is second to none and has to be seen to be believed.
To get the needles into the right shape for miniature engraving, first the points are flattened slightly, then re-sharpened using a 'True Hard Arkansas' whetstone.
These are the best sharpening stones available in the world and have been the preferred choice of US Federal Government bank-note engravers since the mid 1800s.
Once the needle had been sharpened it is then hardened and tempered to the correct working strength.
I've found that the best way to heat the thin needles is over a small candle. I use the very small birthday-cake candles. Once the needle is glowing it is then quenched in an egg cup filled with oil.
The tempering is always difficult. It involves reheating the needle halfway along its length until it shows a straw colour. The needle is so thin that the merest heat often shoots down to the point very quickly and then it is too soft to work with.
I've often spent all day just heating and reheating a single needle.
What were the biggest challenges in making this?
Without a doubt, vibration was the biggest problem. Even mice walking along my bench in the night would cause the graver to slip. I often had to stop work for a while to compose myself before starting again.
Some nights I would only engrave one letter. The problem is that there's nowhere for the grave to travel. It's simply a matter of positioning the engraving tool and waiting for the right moment when to exert a little pressure.
Also, many times I've got to the bottom of the pin only to realise that I've got another four or five lines left to engrave. Yet again, another pin is scrapped. Many times I often wondered if it was all worth it.
Given the fact that it took 300 hours to make, was there ever a time when you felt like giving up?
I felt like giving up many, many times. It wasn't continuous though. Some nights I could sit for 5 hours, others only 30 minutes.
I remember on many occasions, sitting for three hours or so and not having the right moment when to 'feel' the pressure in my finger tips. I was perspiring a lot! My nerves were shattered, not to mention the strain on my eyes.
Did you have a particular market in mind when making this?
No, I didn't even think about it. It was the achievement I was after. Some people saw this as an obsession, which I suppose it was. It certainly took over my life.
What will be your next project?
I've a big project coming up, but can't reveal what it's about. There's a big media company launch being planned for April. My engraving will be featured on a television programme to coincide with the event.
How did you become to be a hand engraver?
I started work at the age of 15, straight from school. I needed