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Getting clear hallmark stamping

I am sure that I should know this somehow, but I am having a heck of
time properly stamping my logo/initials and the “sterling” stamp on
my pieces. What is the proper way to anchor the piece and the stamp
so that a hard hammer blow gets it right the first time?

Thanks for help from the far more experienced out there!


Many will disagree with me. I like a distinct and deep mark, I will
use a stable steel surface, like an anvil with a sheet of paper or
two to “protect” the surface and strike the punch with a chasing
hammer. Sometimes two or three light strikes is really a better
idea. After I mark the work the side facing the “anvil” will need to
be refinished. Often, I will mark the work early in the finishing
process. For rings, I will often use the die from my shank bender
for the anvil.

Bruce Holmgrain

Hi Sally:

My trick is to hold the stamps in a small (1 Tonne) arbor press
that’s been rigged to hang on to them.

That way the pressure comes down evenly, without having to worry
about wacking it with a hammer. For small ring-sized stamps, the
arbor press will put out plenty of force. If you need more umph, you
can smack the top of the arbor with a copperhead hammer. That’ll get
you all the force you could ever use.

Brian Meek.

Hi Sally,

I cast a small 2" block of tin made from a melted down pewter
tankard from a car boot sale. I found it gave just the right amount
of ‘give’.

If you are worried about contamination put it in a plastic bag first
to keep the two metals separated You can always hammer a suitable
dent into it to conform to your jewellery item’s profile.

regards Tim Blades.

What is the proper way to anchor the piece and the stamp so that a
hard hammer blow gets it right the first time? 

Well, Sally that’s a real question… Jo-Ann makes me stamp some
things because she just gets nervous, still. We use a type-metal
block for ring stamping (pewter or soft solder works pretty well,
too) -much harder than lead, much softer than steel. If it’s flat I
use a steel block with thin carboard (cereal box, note pad backing,
etc.) Make sure everything is in place - that the ring is on-center
and won’t tilt… Then give it one good whack with a big hammer
(big, not HUGE) Trying to chip away with a little hammer will get
bounce and double strikes, very often. Hold the whole arrangement in
place with the stamp - once you are set, push down hard on it to
hold the ring, too. Then just whack it, just the right amount. If
it’s a curved stamp on a flat surface, start on the right or left
end and roll it across as you hammer it. And don’t swing the hammer
again unless you are ~sure~ the stamp is locked into the previous
strike. And do it early on - I stamp rings before I even file the
outsides, and finish everything at once… I use an 8 ounce
balll-pein for just about everything (unless I need the 16 ounce) I
have a chasing hammer somewhere down in the bottom drawer, for if I
ever need to do chasing. Cute little thing…

Brian Meek you are a super cool dude with great ideas! now, how are
you riggin’ the arbor press? Please describe. I am looking at it and
I am thinking but I want to know your method.

Thanks so much,
Thornton Metals Studio

Hi Susan:

I wish I could claim total credit for the arbor press idea, but
mine’s a riff on one I saw while working for Doug Zaruba, many moons

What I did to make mine:

Remove the arbor, and put the arbor in a 4-jaw chuck on my large
metal lathe. (yeah, it really is all about the toys.) Drill down the
centerline of the arbor for about 1.5-2 inches, with a 1/2" drillbit.

Drill & tap a hole into the front face of the arbor for a setscrew
to hold the punches. (make sure the setscrew hole hits the centerline
of your borehole.)

I used a 1/2" drill for my ‘holder’ hole because I have assay office
stamps (from London) that are pretty beefy across the (square)
shank. (10mm or so.)

If you’re using more typical 1/4" round rod stamps, you can just use
a 1/4" borehole.

The setscrew doesn’t have to do much beyond just hanging onto the
punch. All the force comes from the arbor, so the holding rig
needn’t be anything fancy.

In the unlikely event you don’t have a large lathe with a 4-jaw, you
can easily rig the arbor into a tabletop drillpress to get a hole
down the center of the arbor. Remember, this is mostly about getting
a relatively small amount of force in the right spot, just once per
use. So the holding rig doesn’t have to be ultra precise. However, I
wouldn’t try this with a hand drill. If that’s all you’ve got, see if
you can pay somebody a couple of bucks to shoot the hole for you. It
should at least be axial to the arbor shaft.

I’ll get some pictures of it up on the website in the not-entirely-
distant future, but it’s pretty simple. For a base, I tend to use
whatever’s handy and about the right shape. I’ve got a block of UHMW
plastic with grooves in it for ring shanks. Everything else, I wing
based on the piece.

Hope this helps.
Brian Meek

I wish I could claim total credit for the arbor press idea, but
mine's a riff on one I saw while working for Doug Zaruba 

I wanted to let Brian have his moment - good idea if you have a
press. If you don’t have a press and you need a real tool, then

works really well. Not cheap, but great, and consistent, results. I
use a hammer and a stamp, partly because we have around 20 of them
for different purposes…