10 Top Tips for Metal Stamping
10 TIPS FOR METAL STAMPING
Don't expect to be good at metal stamping on your first try, or second or fifth! Know that you WILL mess up 3-5 blanks, just put that into your practice budget and keep those imperfect blanks around for further practice.
STABLE WORK SURFACE
Make sure you are on a stable table and preferably over a table leg. If your surface isn't stable, your stamp will jump and you will get a doubled or shadowed impression. If you're able to make a stamping post, that's even better!
USE TAPE TO HELP LINE UP YOUR LETTERS
Use stamping tape to help stamp in a straight line. Lay the tape on your blank (use it to tape your blank down if you wish) and place the top edge of the tape where you want the bottom of your letter to be. Place your stamp on your blanks and lightly scoot it down (without scratching the metal) until you feel the bottom of the letter bump up agains that top edge of the tape, then stamp. This will help you impress your letters in a straight line (yay!).
STRONG RESISTANCE UNDER YOUR METAL
Make sure you have the proper resistance under your blank while using a steel bench block that is at least 2" x 2" by .75" thick and even bigger is better. Don't put anything soft under your bench block. A sandbag is great to have under your steel block because it provides further resistance while dampening the sound.
PUMP UP THE POWER
Some stamps, like larger ones or ones with a lot of detail, need more muscle behind them when stamped. Consider moving to a 2lb hammer for those. You will be surprised how much this helps!
TILT N' TAP METHOD
For stamps with a lot of detail, try the Tilt n' Tap method. Start by holding the stamp straight and giving it one strong whack. Without moving the stamp from that position, slightly tilt it to the right and hit again. Now slightly tilt it towards yourself and hit again. Continue in this manner, in a circular motion, until you complete the circle then hit the stamp again while straight. The tilts should be very slight (the below example is a bit over exaggerated).
Practicing good ergonomics will result in better looking jewelry and a happier body. The way you hold your stamping hammer, the way you sit at your bench or table, and the way you hold your metal stamps, they all matter. If you're struggling to get a good impression try moving your chair higher or lower, you may even benefit from standing.
USE QUALITY STAMPS
Quality metal stamps make a difference. They will stamp easier, provide a better impression and be easier to position.
DO NOT COPY OTHER PEOPLE'S WORK
Use aluminum foil tape (found at your local hardware store) to practice your design. You can find this at almost any hardware store, but we also sell it here. Lay the tape on a wooden surface and press the stamp into the tape, you may even tap the stamp lightly. This is great for practicing layout and design. Do not lay the tape on your bench block and then stamp your stamps into it. The tape is so thin that this is directly stamping straight on your steel bench block dulling and ruining your stamps and damaging your block. Want to practice the force of your blows? Use a practice metal blank or sheet metal of at least 24 gauge in thickness.