How to Tattoo Initials

About: Architect/designer based between Chicago and SE Minnesota. Resource based problem solver... in other words, I always take a minute to peek in construction dumpsters :) ---the way some have to workout everyd...

Intro: How to Tattoo Initials

Why it's better to use a screw driver than a knife...

Traditional Carving. A standard way to leave initials or a message. I have rarely carve initials for a few reasons.

  1. tree damage---living wood is always damaged by carving
  2. graffiti ---the visual clutter in some places is intense
  3. damage knife tip ---depending on how dense the wood is it can be painful to watch someone carve
  4. safety ---carving is generally risky. especially for someone with less experience

On a recent trip to glacier national park we made Trail Tea on a rustic log bench. A few initials (shown later in the post) were already carved into the bench. I had actually visited this bench years ago and think it would be nice to see initials in the future.

Tattoo Method. Recently I started carrying a Leatherman Skeletool and am loving it!! This knife has my most used tools and is nearly half the weight of the larger multi-tools.

In this instructable I show why I prefer to tattoo initials over traditional carving.

Step 1: Tattoo Initials

The method of creating marks using the tattoo method is far simpler and safer than carving.

Using either the flat or philips head screw driver tap our a series of marks. After a few test runs it's easy to get into a rhythm.

The durable driver tips create a groove that in close series forms a line.

Step 2: Compressing Vs. Carving

By compressing the material into a dense line it is more durable than the carved lines of traditional carving.

Wood fibers are packed together to maintain a barrier. While traditional carving exposes more of the wood fibers to decay.

--in either case it's not recommended for living trees

Step 3: Lower Impact Approach

Who benefits from carving? Carved initials really only look good the the person who does the carving.

Lower Impact. By by compressing wood fibers the finish is maintained. See in the photos how the recessed lines are less visible than the exposed wood fibers below.

Step 4: Save Your Blade

Again, the main reason I choose to tattoo is to save the knife blade.
The tip is the most fragile part of the knife.

While not traditionally the way to carve initials a better option is a screw driver!

Tattoo Method. Equally valuable to the blade is that it is a safer, quicker option that provides the same value for the carver while causing less clutter visual clutter for others. Also, less damage to the tree

Leatherman. Thanks to Leatherman for sponsoring the '18 Pets Competition. I'm loving the Skeletool!!

Hope you find this trail hack useful.
Here are a few other recent backcountry and trail hacks.

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