How to Carve Steel Stamps

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Turn an Allen wrench into a carved steel stamp with these steps.
Turn an Allen wrench into a carved steel stamp with these steps. (Image: TRBfoto/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Steel stamps are used to impress images into metal, leather and other surfaces. Stamping copper, brass, silver and gold is very popular to make jewelry. A lot of folks use steel stamps to make their own name and medical alert jewelry. Others use steel stamps to show ownership of tools and equipment or to sign art. Carving metal stamps allows you to create custom pieces and develop your own style. Small business owners can carve stamps to imprint the company symbol, logo or trademark. Up cycle your old Allen wrench, a nail or other similarly-shaped steel tools to create quality steel stamps.

Things You'll Need

  • Vise
  • Jewelry saw (optional)
  • Flex shaft or rotary tool
  • Cut off wheel or separating disk (optional)
  • Torch
  • Course file
  • Needle file set
  • Burrs
  • Mini muslin wheel
  • Gray star polishing compound

Sketch the design for your steel stamp. Calculate the size stamp you need. Select an Allen wrench, steel nail or other similarly-shaped steel tool to accommodate the sketched design.

Create a steel blank for the steel stamp. Place the nail, Allen wrench or other steel tool in a vise. Use a jewelry saw or a rotary tool or flex shaft with a separating or cut-off disk to cut off the end of the nail, Allen wrench or other tool.

Remove the steel blank from the vise. Use a torch to anneal the end of the blank planning to carve.

Draw your design on the annealed steel blank with a permanent marker. Use a course flat file to taper the sides of the steel blank pursuant to the outside lines or curves of your design.

Use needle files to carve the design into the end of the steel blank. Use a rotary tool or flex shaft and burrs to carve details that you cannot carve with needle files.

Using a rotary tool or flex shaft with a mini muslin wheel charged with gray star compound to polish the end of the steel stamp.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sharp tapers on steel stamps yield a clearer and crisper imprint. Stamps with sharp tapers are easier to use because you can better see where the design of the steel stamp makes contact with the metal or other item you will be stamping.
  • Take fire safety precautions and work in a well-ventilated space when using a torch. Wear eye goggles when using a rotary tool or flex shaft.

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References

  • "The Complete Metalsmith: Professional Edition"; Tim McCreight; 2005
  • "Metalsmithing"; Robert Ebendorf, Michael Jerry, and Thomas Markusen; 1973
  • "Form Emphasis for Metalsmiths"; Heikki Seppä; 1978
  • "Jewelry Concepts and Technology"; Oppi Untracht; 1982
  • "The Complete Book of Jewelry Making"; Carles Codina; 2006
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