Stamping letters into a silver - army Dog tag

Hi Guys & Girls, I have a request from a customer to stamp some text
into a silver army dog tag… any suggestions as to the best way to
line up the letters and what would be the best material to have
behind the silver tag when stamping it …e.g. hard (steel)
soft…(wood) medium (I am thinking of using a plastic kitchen
chopping board!!!) …

Thanks in advance for all you help …

Paul Townsend

Unfortunately the stamps are not all that accurate and my stamped
lettering always comes out crooked. I’ve even tried making up a
special jig but it only helps a little. For accurate lettering I now
take it to a specialist engraver.

Tony Konrath
Key West Florida 33040

Dear Paul: Laser marking/engraving would provide a excellent result
on your silver application.

It offers the ability to laser engrave any true type font and also
allows for images or lineart to be engraved as well.

The process is clean and quick, and since the laser energy is truely
hot light, you do not have to worry about deforming the original

The laser engraving process can be performed as the last step after
you have highly polished the silver and required minimal ultra-sonic
clena up after the laser engraving is completed.

If you would like to obtain the name of a certified LaserStar
Marking system contractor, please advise. I would be happy to put
you in touch with them.

Otherwise, more can be obtained regarding this
technology at our website.

Good luck.
James E Gervais
Crafford-LaserStar Technologies

Hello Paul,

    Hi Guys & Girls, I have a request from a customer to stamp
some text into a silver army dog tag... any suggestions as to the
best way to line up the letters and what would be the best material
to have behind the silver tag when stamping it ...e.g. hard (steel)
soft..(wood) medium (I am thinking of using a plastic kitchen
chopping board!!!) ... 

Lining up separate letter stamps is a challenge since many times the
letters are formed at varying distances (even slightly askew) from
the edge of the stamp - or at least my stamps vary. It’s not as
simple as carefully lining up the letter stamps, one against
another, in a straight line. If the dog tag is well polished, you
might be able to see the reflection of the stamp as it is lowered to
the metal, and visually aline the bottom of the letter to a line
drawn with magic marker. I hope someone has a good suggestion for
this problem - I’ll be watching for responses to this question.

So far as the backing material, if slight deformation of the back of
the dogtag is acceptable, use a hard (steel) polished material to
get the crispest letter marks. A softer material will allow the
metal to bulge into it leaving a dent around the letter, which will
not be very well defined.

If the back of the dogtag must be undamaged, engrave the letters.
This also eliminates the problem with lining up the stamped letters

What a good question - I’m hoping to see a good answer,

Judy in Kansas

   Unfortunately the stamps are not all that accurate and my
stamped lettering always comes out  crooked. 

Here’s one solution, though not one practical for most of us.
Though the steel stamps used to stamp metals are usually not accurate,
the old typemetal type used with old style letterpress printing
presses IS accurate, and comes in a very wide range of type sizes and
styles. Nowadays, it’s been replaced mostly by more modern printing
methods, but sometimes you can find large lots (many pounds at a
time) of the old type available, often for pennies or a few dollars
per pound. This stuff is just a tin/lead alloy, so obviously it
won’t stamp metal. But if you set up the type in a suitable frame
with the phrase you want, lay a sheet of saran wrap or similar
plastic wrap over a piece of sheet wax, you can impress very precise
and detailed lettering into the sheet wax, which can then be cast.
The casting ends up with nicely impressed lettering, which differs
markedly in effect from the main competitor for this, photo etching,
in that with a photo etch, the precision surface is the outer surface
of the metal, not the recessed one. It thus can be altered to
polishing, etc. With the pressed in type method, the precision shape
is the bottom of the impression, so polishing or finishing of the
outer surface doesn’t affect the quality of the image.

Other ways to get what you want are variations of photo etching.
You can draw, or use a compter typography program (your word
processor) to lay out the precise image you wish, and send this to a
graphic arts place which will be happy to make a printing plate for
you, in etched zinc or magnesium. This is used like the type I just
metioned, differing from it in that the real type has a more precise
side slope to the letters than the photoetched printing plate. But
the difference isn’t all that much. The zinc plate, if made so the
writing reads correctly right on the plate, can also be just molded
and cast, for raised letters, or if you made the plate so the letters
are etched in, (which in printing would give you a black background
with white letters), then molded and cast, you’ll have impressed
letters somewhat like stamped in ones. One can also have rubber
stamps made, in either raised letters or recessed ones, in the same
way. If you tell the shop not to mount the rubber, then you end up
with a flexible rubber sheet with your design on/in it, which can by
itself be invested and cast directly, without molding. The rubber
mold method is also useful if you wish to have the lettering follow a
curve, since the rubber is flexible, and can be glued to curved sheet
material (wax or plastic) to make the model for casting.

And if you already have stamps, it may be simplest to just stamp
into wax sheet, with saran wrap as the seperator. the wax sheet is
cheap, and you can try several times, learning the quirks of the
stamps, till you get it right. You could even do this in the wax just
to practice, and then attempt to stamp the metal once you know how to
adjust the positions of the stamps.

Hope that helps.

Hello, Paul Quite a while ago, pre-computer printed invoices, Indian
Jewelers supply wrote out the whole shebang by hand, and to ease the
burden of addressing, we had a rig called the Addressograph. You
slammed a pad down on your invoice, onto a ribbon, and onto this
dog-tag like plate. The ribbon imprinted the top white copy, and
pressure carbonned the duplicates.

Used to have the plates made at the office supply for a fee, then
they got tired of nursemaiding the platemaker, and sold it to us. We
went computer, and that behemoth went to the scrapyard.

If you can’t locate an Addressograph, polish that silver dog tag
very highly, and utilise its mirror reflection for character
alignment on perm marker lines. Go hard for your stamping surface.
Don’t want the tag going lumpy.

Dan Woodard, IJS
Sorry I’ve been inactive, didjah miss me?

        Hi Guys & Girls, I have a request from a customer to stamp
some text into a silver army dog tag... any suggestions as to the
best way to line up the letters and what would be the best
material to have behind the silver tag when stamping it ...e.g.
hard (steel) 

Hi Folks; OK, I have a bright idea, but it’s something I haven’t
tried. Using thermoplastic like Jett-Sett, etc., put the stamps in
the order you want and form the thermoplastic around them like a
sleeve and as it cools, make adjustments in the alignment of the
tools. When it cools, lay out a thin layer of heated thermoplastic
on the dog tag and while it’s warm, push the ganged set of stamps
down until they contact the metal beneath. You can then remove the
sleeve and the thin template will have seats into which you can set
each stamp and strike. The thermoplastic should have enough yield to
allow the stamp to impress the metal. In my opinion, you do best
backing it with a clean, smooth piece of steel, preferably polished.
You’d probably need to super glue down the template to the tag and
lining it up would take some carefull observation. Easy enough to
test it on a strip of brass.

David L. Huffman

Hi Judy, I had a terrible time with this at first. I tried
everything to line up the letters so that they weren’t skewed on the
little disk tags I attach to necklaces and bracelets. I tried
marking a line and setting it as closely as possible, but because the
stamps all vary in where the letters/numbers are on the end, it never
looked ‘clean’, always a bit too artistic. :o)

I had four Sterling cuffs to make recently for awards and had them
professionally engraved. So much for the stamps. Then I was
holding down the flat stock on my anvil (iron RR track), with duct
tape. I had taped the surface of the anvil, then held the pieces
down with the tape while I stamped in my marks on the inside.

Quite by accident, I found that by lining up the upper edge of the
stamp on the edge of the tape, it looked really pretty good. no more
uneven letters–So, when I came to marking the front of the piece, I
taped it horizontally and vertically on top of the tape (to protect
the undersides), and then used more tape to ‘line up’ the letters.
It really worked quite well, and didn’t have such a ‘rustic’ look
about it. LOL

I’m sure with more practice, and using a better light so that I can
’see’ where the letters are falling, it will be much better. I had
initially tried stamping on a hardwood board, but the anvil makes a
much more consistent mark.

Hope this helps.
Cheerfully, Dinah.

It has occurred to me – you say a “silver army dog tag”. Do you
mean it is actually silver, or just silver-colored? Regulation Army
dog tags, while of a silver color, are not really made of silver. (I
think they are stainless steel??) Anyhow, much harder than silver
and would probably need to be engraved.


I have taken silver and gold dog tags to the local Army Navy Surplus
store and they stamp them just as authentic dog tags. Another
thought would be pet stores that supply tags. I have seen them
while buying cat food at the local pet supply chain. Mick

Hi Paul,

I stamp 14ga silver sheet with conventional alphabet stamps.
Alignment I do by sight after putting in some orientation lines. If
you just press the stamp HARD by hand, you can put enough of an
impression on the metal to check registration and alignment. Then
come back and sink it in with a hammer. It takes a very light touch
to get it back on the light impression but you can get the hang of
it. FYI for my application, I hard fire enamel into the impression
of the stamp, then stone it flush and refire to gloss it off. People
are amazed I did it with conventional alphabet stamps.

I am stamping on a polished bench block btw

Dexter, Oregon

Hi … Thanks for all the great info on the stamping ideas …
Unfortunately here in Dubai I dont have access to a lot of the
latest technology (most of the stuff here is still made by hand) …
but there were a few answer which I will try out (especially lining
the stamps from the top edge and not the bottom edge and also using
the reflection of the letter to align it …)

Cheers Paul T