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A Magazine for Engravers, Artists, Craftsmen and Collectors

Information, Inspiration and Education about the Art of Engraving...and a bunch of other stuff

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An entertaining viewpoint you won't find anywhere else

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When Things Go Wrong by Brian Powley
Success is the result of good judgment.
Good judgment is the result of experience.
Experience is the result of bad judgment.
It happens to the best of us. Some things get screwed up and we are responsible for it.
No matter how inconvenient it is, we must pursue the “fix” in order to keep the customer happy.
            I learned years ago as a manager working in a large steel mill that there is always a solution to any problem.  I can’t say I always like the solution, but like it or not, we all know where the buck stops.
            Recently, I was doing an upgrade for a customer. His project is a Kreighoff Model 32 shotgun.
He wanted the engraved birds gold inlaid and recut the forend iron to match the scrollwork on the receiver.
            The gold inlay was a snap. I was actually able to undercut and gold inlay the birds without taking the gun apart or disturbing the original factory bluing. I thought that alone nominated me for some kind of Medal of Honor. You can’t believe how proud I was of my skills and rightly so.
            I then proceeded to sand and polish the forend iron for engraving. Nothing unusal here. I’ve prepped gun metal for nearly 30 years without a glitch----until this piece.
            When I started to engrave the forend iron, my graver literally sank completely through the metal on the edge. You can’t imagine what went through my mind. A real panic set in and my eyes could barely believe what they saw. WHAT THE HECK WENT WRONG?
            Upon inspection of the iron, I hadn’t noticed that there is a small, thin recessed lip that lets the forend wood slide under the edge of the iron. My sanding and polishing it made it thin enough to actually bend it over with fingernail pressure.
It appeared to be ruined and now I was faced with the difficult task of making it right.
At first I wanted to just figure out how to fix it and, if successful, not mention anything to the customer.
            Experience has taught me to get it out in the open and admit my dilemma. Making that phone call to the owner was a very hard thing to do. After nearly 30 years of metalworking and engraving, I’ve had my share of mistakes, but it still didn’t make this phone call any easier to place.
            I was surprised to hear the owner understand my problem and actually suggest solutions.
I really believe contacting the customer immediately and admitting my fault did more to remedy the situation than keeping quite. Doesn’t seem like when you try to cover something up you, only end up making things worse? Honesty is the bedrock of good business.
That phone call sure made the rest of the day a little easier to suffer through.
            I thought long and hard about the remedy. I really didn’t know anyone that had the welding skills to pad this up and I sure as heck didn’t have the machining tools to recut the iron. I believe my honesty with the customer eased my mind enough to come up with a logical solution:  Call Kreighoff International.
To my surprise, they were more than willing to give it look. I sent the piece to them and they said “No problem, we’ll just simply reweld the metal and reshape it for you.” I felt very much at ease having Kreighoff work on this. They gave me an estimate and I agreed.
What a relief! A simple solution to a most difficult situation.
For the record, I said “simple”,not “inexpensive”.
I think Kreighoff charged a fair price for the work they did. It wasn’t cheap, but they didn’t take advantage of me either. I was happy, and upon inspection, the iron looks as good as a brand new one.
Now, all I have to do is get it right this time.




Send mail to mailto:brian@powleyengraving.com with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright 2011 The Engravers Notebook
Last modified: February 28, 2011