Best material to stamp against?

Hi all. I’ve never had great success trying to stamp a design on both
sides of piece of silver. No matter what material I’ve tried to stamp
against, stamping the back side always smushes the design on the
front side to one degree or another. I haven’t tried pitch for this
because it seems that the striking force needed for these stamps
requires a more solid surface, and it wouldn’t be practical for this

Have any of you discovered a material to use as a stamping surface
that has enough resistance to allow a crisp design on the back side
without distorting the front side too much? Thanks!

Allan Mason
Hermosa Beach, CA

Have any of you discovered a material to use as a stamping surface
that has enough resistance to allow a crisp design on the back
side without distorting the front side too much? 

You can use a hard planishing pitch, some available from Northwest
pitch works,

(I find their hard melts dangerously high and runny)

also from Fischer in Germany
in the form of hard black setter pitch. (a bit brittle but does the
job well)

You can use a regular pitch (softish) and then set it in the fridge
for a while to harden it. You might even try ice…

You can use aquaplast, and jett sett for a rock hard surface. Hot
glue can have its place as a resiliant surface.

Traditional might be orange flake shellac but I do not recommend
this, too brittle, bad organic chemicals (it is ground up bug shell
exudations) and it melts dangerously high.

and so on…


why don’t you stamp on a little piece of silver, Then solder that
little plate on to where you need it…simple and it works for me…

Gerry Lewy

I use lead. You can buy lead blocks from most jewelry supply places
but it’s cheaper and less costly on shipping if you go to a plumbing
supply place and buy 10 lbs of plumbers lead. Then get a 6 inch cast
iron skillet and melt the lead into it with a torch. Don’t use the
skillet for anything else and wash your hands after working with the
lead. You will have to remelt the lead occasionally to keep the
surface smooth.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Allan, as you probably know, most American Indian jewelry especially
Navajo & Hopi is designed using steel design stamps as part of the
design elements. We use stamps as small as 3-5mm faces to larger
concho dies. Many stamp their work against steel anvils or blocks,
but also many use a backing material to keep the work from double
stamping. I am one of the advocates of using a backing material and
one of the oldest is thick paper or very thin cardboard. Many of the
old ones used paper match covers. While I don’t particularly like
them, I do use cardboard about that thickness. I have found that the
thinner the silver sheet, the greater the chances of accidental
double stamping, so that’s when I use a backing material most often.
When I use 14-16-18 ga sheet, I sometimes stamp without a backing

I hope this is what you were referring to and that this helps,

best wishes,
John Barton

Allan… There are many many surfaces to stamp on. Repousse uses
pitch for it’s own reasons. Other surfaces are steel, lead, which is
pretty soft, wood, which is also pretty soft even if it’s hardwood,
and pewter or typemetal. We use a typemetal block to trademark rings
on and it’s perfect for that. Pewter is close - modern pewter is I
guess 100% tin or nearly so. Another thing some people do is buy
solder by the pound - like 50-50 plumber’s solder or whatever blend
they like. All of those metals can be melted on a hotplate and cast
into a cardboard box. Tape the box around the seams and coat it
lightly with vaseline inside…

Just a suggestion…change your power when striking, use thicker
metal, or engrave instead. Use a pad of leather…thick…between
your bench block and your metal.


If you want something a bit harder than lead, and softer than steel,
I have found Tin is a good compromise.

Find an old Pewter tankard at a car boot sale (they are out of
fashion at the moment) and melt that down in an old cast iron
saucepan. (same source!)


When forging copper, which I do alot of, I use the traditional
ashwood stump. If I need more give,to emboss more deeply, I either
use a stack of magazines or some boot leather to get the effect.
When stamping, I use a piece of railroad iron or a heavy plate of


Steel rule die cutting uses tempered or un tempered Masonite,
Depending on whether it is machine or hand cutting same with the use
of gasket punches or leather working punches. It protects the
cutting edge will give a little too. The un tempered more than the
tempered. The clicker presses in leather work use the UHMW plastic
or thick red or black rubber sheeting. It is gasket or diaphragm

Along the plastic line a trade name of Sintra that is used in model
making and signs is a hard surface soft in side material that will
support yet give you can try. As it takes a good impression in it
own right.

Low melting metals that can be used as a backing. McMasters-Carr has
a whole range that go from the melting in a pot of boiling water to
the exotic for price.


Dear Allan: The best way I know to do a double sided stamping is to
make a two sided die, and if edge shape is important, then you will
need a collar as well. The object gets struck all at once. This the
basic set-up for any coining operation.

Yes, it is quite a bit of work to make such a set of tools.

Phillip Baldwin


I think that Aquaplast now sells what used to be called Protoplast
as Friendly Plastic only. Aquaplast is available for broken bones and
F.P. for artists to use. Available in pellets, sheet, etc.

Do correct me if I’ve got my info wrong.


Depends on the back surface. Flat back and clamping hard to polished
hard steel works well, clamp to avoid the work from 'bouncing up’
leaving a negative impression on the back. For large inside ring
stamps with a detailed outside I use a 158 bismuth alloy. Heat and
imbed the shank, stamp and remove. Harder than lead with the same
problems but it works well. Water based poster paint or white out
does work well as a resist to the bismuth alloy sticking, but
normally it just flakes off.

Use care, not an idiot proof technique.