Amy, thanks for your post. It led me to making some tests and
finding a better way to stamp.
My stamp shank is 8mm square, or I would buy this stamping press
by Harper manufacturing
The Harper web page shows a pliers and a press. The directions for
the press say to hold the handle down (with stamp in place) and
strike the top of the press with a hammer. Multiple hammer blows is
First of all, their press looks identical to the Harbor Freight 1
ton arbor press, which Harbor Freight sells for $47. Perhaps Harper
has modified it in some way to justify their > 2X price.
So I ran some tests on my arbor press. I used small and medium
’sterling’ and ‘999 FS’ stamps on 18 ga. copper since I don’t have a
stamp as large as yours.
The directions are right, if you hold the handle you can strike the
top of the press multiple times without getting a double impression.
I tapped it three times with a 2 lb. brass mallet. That was real
overkill! The impression was deeply cratered.
After more tests I did without the hammer and just used the press
itself. That worked. In fact, I got really clean impressions without
any box-like indentations [sterling] using very little hand
pressure. VERY LITTLE. I found it easier to get nice impressions with
the press and light hand pressure than the traditional way of
striking the stamp with a mallet.
It would seem to me that Harper’s, or Harbor Freight’s, or any
similar arbor press would do just what you need.
Because of its rough surface you might want to remove the revolving
arbor press base (on the Harbor Freight model) and put a polished
bench block in its place. I’m quite sure you could get a nice
impression using gentle-to-moderate hand pressure on the handle - no
hammer needed. If you really did need more pressure you could extend
the handle with a length of pipe, but I really doubt you’d need to.
If you want to tap the top of the press, use a plastic or rawhide
mallet. Anything heavier is counter productive.
I had no problems keeping a straight, thin stamp vertical, but to
make it easier to get it right every time, I’d suggest drilling a
hole in a block of wood or plastic to widen the contact area between
the top of the stamp and the bottom of the arbor press shaft. A tight
hole or some shims would keep the stamp from falling out of the
An arbor press is also very handy for cutting discs with a disc
cutter, and for doing some metal forming using dies and a urethane