Phil, yes, and I think that would look terrible, I don't intend to try it but I feel like the letters would be toasted too, not just the sunk field.
Just for stamping wood,heating the stamp to blue would bring it to a spring steel temper(about 52 Rockwell,depending upon the steel,original tempering temperature,etc.). The stamp would still work on wood. I use my stamps on metal too,and would not like to heat them to blue.
Pipe Makers, who want a subtle but substantial mark in burl, love the stamps made by Paul Argendorf, firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have one, and for putting a small mark on a tool, I find it quite good. I did not make perfect marks the first time I used it. I had to learn how to use it. One of the things I learned is that each block of wood will act a bit differently. The main trick that I learned was to mark the wood before starting the project. This way I know what it will take to make a good mark. First I clean the face of the wood so the case hardened wood does not mess up my test. My favorite method is to press the mark in with a vise. Sometimes I wet the wood with turpentine, drive the mark home with the vise and leave it there for a bit. Some wood has a strong dry/wet memory and it seems the mark needs to be made in both states if you want it to survive finishing.
It is horrid when you make a nice but subtle mark, finish the tool and then find that the mark is now closer to undetectable than it is to subtle.
Paul Argendorf's stamps are not cheap, and they are not the universal answer to all woodwork markings. They also take a bit of learning and experimentation to use well. The makers of fine burl pipes swear by them. I am quite pleased with mine!
Email Paul Argendorf email@example.com
A & M Steel Stamps 55 Windsor Ave.
Mineola, N.Y. 11501
I realize you're wanting something small, unobtrusive and commercially made, Derek—and I think Bob Strawn may have your answer—so while this might not appeal to you, someone else might find it useful, interesting or entertaining. For stamps in your preferred dimensions, a pipemaker's stamp or jeweler's Microstamp* may be just the thing.
Having made stamps and brass bookbinding handle letters and having even tried my hand at punchcutting, I just had to make my own stamp soon after creating my first furniture pieces.
Laser toner transfer makes it straightforward and you're not limited to manufacturer's typefaces and poor letter-spacing—you can make your own logo and even draw it by hand, scan it in, reduce and reverse it, transfer and you're good to start excavating. It doesn't have to be anything approaching perfect—a few chips in letter edges will just give it that Caslon Antique flavor.
• You can have exactly what you want.
• Your stamp will be entirely unique.
• Fun to try new things.
• Is easier, goes more quickly than one might imagine and is quite satisfying.
• If you don't like it, grind it off and start over.
• Could provide an excuse to buy another tool or two.
• Can also stamp leather, and so on. Can also ink it (acrylic paint works) and print it.
• You'll need tool steel and a torch to heat treat it or send it out.
• Helps to have a Dremel or flexshaft.
• An optivisor is helpful (nice for sharpening DT saws, too).
• Buying a ready-made stamp is easier.
• Does take more time than simply ordering a stamp.
• Might need to buy another tool.
• Can become addictive.
• Keep it small. Larger stamps need much bigger hammers—a 3-lb sledge or drilling hammer, even.
• Keep it simple—use initials, monograms or simple symbols.
• Keep letter and line weights to as thin as possible—takes less force to punch and gives cleaner impression.
• If you want to stamp the year, do that separately ('95 came far more quickly after '94 than I expected).
• For reliefs, it's surprising easy and quick to "background" letters with simple punches, stamps, rotary burrs and gravers, and yields an attractive hand-wrought look. Dyeing or otherwise coloring the ground can also set off the letters, glyphs, shapes.
• If you mess up, you can always insert a piece made from another bit of wood or a medallion (all my personalizing is with medallions—cast, carved, repoussed, engraved, etched, enameled, whatever) and it'll look terrific.
• And Bob Strawn's right—for tiny maker's marks suitable for pipes or pens, Paul's stamps are the way to go.
Wood engravers had various secrets to their ground preparation, one which involved treating engrain with boiling wood ash solution (lye) to partially delignify it. Just a thought—not really suggesting you try this, but...Anyone have the same experience and have a solution, or are my expectations simplistic? I think I may have to settle for an owners stamp as this has less surface area to imprint.
*I highly recommend Microstamp products—the smaller hammer solution—and use them for all manner of things; jewelry hallmarking and eyeglasses frames, tool and security I.D. stamping, and more.
Last edited by David Barnett; 06-11-2013 at 1:35 PM.
It is somewhat tempting to try to make one.
George, what temper would you make a stamp - would it be knife/tool temper, or something more like spring temper (under the assumption it would never go in anything harder than wood, anyway)?
Last edited by David Weaver; 06-11-2013 at 1:41 PM.
All this talk about 3-lb sledge hammers, wetting the wood, heating the stamp, etc., make me glad I went with small brass plaques to mark my furniture.