The craftsman featured on the pages linked below has produced a large volume of extraordinarily high quality work. We have provided more photos than normal as a teaching experience. Certain craftsmen set the standards in their area of expertise, and studying the details of their work can be helpful for anyone wishing to follow in their footsteps or take their work to the next level. Not every viewer will want to enlarge every photo, but those interested in achieving this level of craftsmanship will find doing so instructive and, hopefully, inspiring.

The Internet Craftsmanship Museum Presents:

Roger L. Ronnie

Added to museum: 11/12/03

Joe Martin Foundation "Metalworking Craftsman of the Year" award winner for 2004

An engraver with many skills and interests

Roger Ronnie is seen with some of the watch making tools he has built and engraved. (Click on photo for larger image.)

Click on the slide to see a PowerPoint® slide show of a selection of Roger's work. (Once opened, click on screen to advance to next slide. Right click screen to select "full screen" or to end show.) Don't have PowerPoint? CLICK HERE to download a free PowerPoint viewer from Microsoft.

Building a broad basis of skills for later achievement

Roger Ronnie grew up in rural North Dakota. He started drawing at an early age, but because it wasn’t taught in his school, he had to wait until college to get any formal training. In the meantime, he learned what he could on his own.

While in grade school he got his first introduction to engines—a 1946 Cushman scooter.  For a long time he used this scooter as his “canvas”, painting designs on the body. Other than drawings, his art abilities were not developed any further. Attending college was his first real start in art and also learning about different engines. He took every art course he could, which lead to both a major and minor in art. In addition, taking industrial arts courses helped lay down the foundation for his interest in engines. Now he had a basic foundation of drawing, painting, sculpting, casting and engines.

From college, Roger went into the service. Here he was introduced to guns and gun engraving. He couldn’t believe how beautiful these guns were. (These were privately owned guns, not service issue.) They were miniature works of art done in steel. He remembers being very impressed with the workmanship. The engraved animals were so small and yet so lifelike and the scrolls so perfect. He wanted to buy the gun; however, when he saw the price it came as quite a shock. He had no concept of the work that went into these guns, but since he had a degree in art he figured he should be able to pick up this new art form quickly. Not surprisingly, the road was longer and harder than he had expected. Learning all the tools and how to use them and drawing everything so small are all difficult when you are so used to working on much larger projects. For example, being just a few thousandths of an inch off on the thickness of an animal or bird’s leg could mean it looked “too skinny” or “too fat.”  It has to be as perfect as possible. Even when you do birds in flight, the correct number of primary and secondary feathers must be on the bird.

Roger learned more about engraving under the tutelage of a couple of different master engravers. Their teaching of techniques was invaluable, but when it comes down to doing nice scrolls, it was practice, practice, practice! Roger adds that partially because of better optics and lighting, engravers today are able to do better work than at any time in the past, although the tools of the trade have changed little over the past couple of centuries.

After his stint in the service, Roger attended a gunsmithing school. If he was going to engrave guns, he knew he would have to be able to take them apart and put them together again.

An introduction to the beauty of a pocket watch

Sometime after completing gunsmithing school while walking to a gun show, a friend wanted to show him a pocket watch. He really wasn’t interested, but his friend said, “You don’t understand. You just have to see this.” It was an old pocket watch from about 1800. He opened it up and showed Roger the back of the movement. Roger couldn’t believe his eyes! What a beautiful sight! A fantastic pierced balance cock caught his eye immediately. It was all beautifully engraved and pierced. (Piercing is cutting away the background of the scroll.) The balance cock is the piece on which one end of the balance wheel pivots. This pocket watch was a wonderful example of fine artistry and craftsmanship all in one neat little package.

After collecting a few of these little works of art, Roger started learning about the tools that made these watches. He found the 18th and 19th century tools to be as beautiful as the watches themselves. He couldn’t find any actual tools from that era, so he decided to build his own. More projects! All the tools he made were done from photos of the originals except for the fusee engine. On that he had a lot of help from a friend.

Ship models spark a new interest in miniature craftsmanship

A local TV station used to have a program where they would showcase a local artist, craftsman or some other local interest. One day they featured a model ship builder showing his model ships. As a youth Roger had built a lot of models, but these were different. They weren’t plastic but rather were made out of different kinds of woods, and they were loaded with very tiny detail. It was like seeing the real ship, only in miniature.

A few months later he made arrangements to visit the shipbuilder. After that meeting Roger had found himself another hobby. He decided that the ship he was going to build was a 1749 royal yacht Caroline. This yacht has approximately 220 beautifully carved animals, birds, fish, people, etc. He decided to carve all the figures as close to the originals as he could. The scale is in 1:48 and all the figures would be carved out of solid brass stock without the use of castings. While working on the ship he had to do a lot of research on the cannons, and while doing this he got hooked on the cannons themselves. This led to another project. He is now making a set of naval cannons from the late 1700’s era. The set will consist of 3, 4, 6, 12, 24 and 42 pounders, all will be in the same scale.

Model engines take his skills into new areas

About four or five years ago, Roger got involved with fellow craftsman Clif Roemmich’s model engine group. Here we go again—another hobby. Once inspired he decided to start building an engine of his own. Being on the practical side, he wanted to build something he could use. Since he is still restoring Cushman scooters, he decided to build something he could use on a scooter. It took a while to decide, but he finally narrowed it down to building either a Allison V-12 or a Rolls Royce Merlin V-12. After collecting a lot of information on both, the Rolls Royce won in the end. To work in a scooter, it would have to be built in 1/3 scale. This is currently a work in progress. All the pieces are being made from wax and will be cast in metal using the lost wax process. Since the original engine was for an airplane, a lot of modifications have to be done. The supercharger is going up front where the gearing for the propeller was. Where the supercharger originally was there will be a flywheel and housing. To learn more about engines before attempting this daunting project, Roger is building a "practice" V-12 based on a modified existing design to test a number of building methods. He hopes to complete this project by the end of 2005.

Roger has always had several projects going at the same time. It’s not “if”, but “when” he runs into a problem or two, he can go to another project until he solves the problem on the first one. Being an engraver has really helped in developing an “eye” for detail. This has helped, not only his own projects but has also given him more appreciation of work done by others.  He better understands all the blood, sweat and tears that they have shed over their projects.

Roger Ronnie selected as 2004 winner of the Joe Martin Foundation's top award

Roger Ronnie of Rapid City, SD was awarded a plaque and a check for $1000.00 from Joe Martin Foundation for being selected as the 2003 winner of the foundation's "Metalworking Craftsman of the Year." The award was presented by Craig Libuse on behalf of the Joe Martin Foundation at the 2004 NAMES show where Mr. Ronnie displayed examples of his engraving work. (Click on photo for larger image.)

After seeing the quality of his work and the wide variety of areas of skill in which he excels, Joe Martin has selected Roger Ronnie as the 2004 winner of the Joe Martin Foundation's award for Metalworking Craftsman of the Year. Roger will attend the North American Model Engineering Society Expo in Southgate, Michigan April 24th and 25th, 2004 to accept his award and a check for $1000.00 from the foundation. He will be displaying some of his engraving as well as some of the clock making tools he has produced.

Note that some of Roger's best engraving work is not shown here. Customers who have paid for his craftsmanship and artistic ability often request that the photos of work they commissioned not be displayed anywhere so that they cannot be copied, keeping their work of art unique.

Gunsmithing in miniature

Although Roger is featured here for his engraving and other modeling abilities, he has just completed building a miniature pistol and is now working on reproducing in 1/2 size a rare Lefever "Thousand Dollar Grade" 10-gauge shotgun. To learn more about Roger's pistol see the photos below or go to his gunsmithing page that covers the building of this 1/2 size pistol and the restoration of the rare full-size original as well as showing photos of the work in progress on his shotgun. Below are links to sections that feature the various areas of skill in which Roger excels.

The best way to tell how small this 1/2 size 1896 Bergmann pistol really is, is to see it in Roger's hand for size scale. (Click to enlarge photo.)

To view examples of Rogers work, visit the various sections below:

(Click photos on left side for larger images or click on underlined titles to view entire section with more photos and descriptions.)


Engraving on Watches and Guns


Watch and Clock Making Tools

Miniature Gun Projects


Engines and Other Projects

Roger attended the 2004 North American Model Engineering Society Exposition in Southgate (Detroit), MI on April 25-26, 2004 where he was presented with his award. He took the opportunity to share his work with the model engineers and interested spectators who attended the show. Here some of the spectators admire his work close up. Roger was so inspired by the work he saw at the show he hopes to drive over from Rapid City again next year to attend the show as an exhibitor. He'd also like some more time to look around and view some of the fine projects exhibited there.
Spectators at the N.A.M.E.S. show inspect Roger's detailed work with a magnifying glass. At the show Roger was able to meet three former winners of the Foundation's Craftsmanship award: Jerry Kieffer, Wilhelm Huxhold and George Luhrs. At this show Sherline hosts a contest for miniature machining projects. The Foundation now offers a new award for entrants under the age of 21 to encourage craftsmanship. As a group, Roger and these three former winners got together to select the young entrant whose project displayed the best craftsmanship. This new "Master's Choice" award is intended to provide additional incentive for young people to get into building things and to build them to the best of their ability.
All engraved designs shown are copyrighted by Roger Ronnie and may not be copied or reproduced in any form without written permission.

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New Submissions Welcomed

If you have additional information on a project or builder shown on this site that your would like to contribute, please e-mail mecm@craftsmanshipmuseum.com. We also welcome new contributions. Please see our page at www.CraftsmanshipMuseum.com/newsubmit.htm for a submission form and guidelines for submitting descriptive copy and photos for a new project.

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This section is sponsored by

Makers of precision miniature machine tools and accessories. Sherline tools are made in the USA.


Sherline is proud to confirm that Roger Ronnie uses Sherline tools in the production of some of his small projects.

To learn how your company or organization can sponsor a section in the Craftsmanship Museum, please contact mecm@craftsmanshipmuseum.com.


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