A Complete Beginner's Guide to Metal Stamping
According to historians, metal stamping was first practiced on coins in the 7th century BC. The process involved creating a die and using a heavy hammer to carve the metal. The process wasn't refined until 1550, where 12 people had to work together to get the job done by screwing the die into the metal coin.
Today, it can be done all by yourself from the comfort of your own home. Metal stamping allows for you to create personalized gifts for every holiday and occasion, all for an affordable price. There's nothing better than something handmade from the heart. If you'd like to know more about how you can get into metal stamping yourself, follow our beginner's guide.
Metal Stamping Tools
Like any hobby, metal stamping requires specialized tools to get started. Some tools may seem a bit pricy, but our high-quality jewelry-making tools tend to last a long time and end up paying for themselves, making the investment worth the money.
The following list of tools can easily be found on our website, with tools for every skill level. You can purchase them separately or in a convenient jewelry stamping kit for beginners that we offer. The tools include:
- A stamping hammer
- Metal stamps (both metal letter stamps and metal design stamps)
- Polishing cloths
- Stamping tape
- Stamping enamel or paint pens
- Metal tags or blanks
- A stamping block
All of the above can be purchased separately or as part of a metal stamping kit.
How to Get Started
Getting started with metal hand stamps is easy. It can be done in the following four steps.
Begin by setting up a sturdy workspace; you're going to be hammering, after all. If you're worried about damaging the surface of your workspace, you can put a strong piece of wood over the top. If you're stamping on a table, make sure to stamp over the sturdy leg of the table, that way the force of your hammering can be dispersed evenly.
Get all of your equipment together and set your stamping block close to you. You'll be using this as your practice piece. We recommend you start with either practice aluminum sheet metal or practice aluminum foil that we offer! You'll want to get familiar with how hard you need to hit, so use these pieces of metal and foil to practice how deep your stamps will impress the metal. We think its important you practice so you don't mess up your final piece.
Choose the stamp you want to start with (make sure it's not upside down!) and stabilize it with your thumb and forefinger. Pick up the hammer and begin striking the top of the stamp. It may take a few strikes to figure out where best to hit the stamp. If the stamp is larger or more detailed, you may need to follow the tilt and tap method to impress all parts of the stamp.
When you feel you're ready, pick out a metal stamping blank you'd like to use for your piece. Use your stamping tape to secure the blank in place on the block to avoid moving and double stamping. Follow a similar process to what you did on your aluminum foil or aluminum practice sheet metal. Don't worry if your piece isn't perfect, just like any art, metal stamping takes practice and anyone that metal stamps consistently has a collection of messed-up blanks they use for future practice!
As you practice, you'll learn how and where to hit the stamp and whether you need to hit it once or twice.
Beginning Your Journey Into the World of Metal Stamping
When starting, think small and simple. You'll want to get in a lot of practice before you move on to more complex pieces, so make sure you have enough metal stamping supplies. When shopping for blanks, it can be helpful to purchase larger tags or dedicated practice blanks to help you hone your technique.
Stick to flat surfaces in the beginning. They're easy to mark up and stamp with the design of your choice.
Technique Is Crucial
You want your finished piece to come out impeccable. It's going to take a good amount of practice for you to get your technique down, so don't feel discouraged if your first few projects aren't up to snuff.
You'll get there sooner than you think!
An important part of your technique involves hitting the stamping blank with the right amount of force. If, after your first attempt, you lift the stamp and notice you've barely made a mark, you probably won't be able to try again on the same piece. Oftentimes it won't be easy to line your stamp back up in your original impression.
Most metals used in metal stamping will need a hard hit for stamping to occur. However, different metals require differing amounts of strength to stamp them.
Aluminum, for example, generally doesn't take as hard of a hit as brass might. As you practice, you'll eventually get a feel for how hard you need to hit each alloy.
Believe it or not, a common mistake for new crafters is choosing a design that doesn't fit the blank. It's often helpful to use a pencil and masking tape to mark the exact placement before you stamp.
One trick you can use to improve the accuracy of your placement is to mark out the center and plan as you expand outward.
Working on Projects
All right, you've practiced enough, and you're ready to start working on some actual projects. Start coming up with ideas about what you'd like your finished work to look like. You can also start planning personalized gifts, such as jewelry charms, special date tags, name pendants, and tags for your pets.
Basic stamping may be enough for a while, but most people eventually want to enhance their pieces. As luck would have it, there are several ways you can do that.
Make Your Letters Stand Out
You may have noticed that other metal stamping works have darker, more robust lettering. You can easily create this effect yourself by carefully using a black sharpie to fill in the indentations created after stamping.
Sharpie is the easiest way to make your letters pop, but it can rub off with time. To create something more permanent, you can do so by stamping blank enamel. The enamel will look much more professional and can be a better choice for jewelry or other pieces that see a lot of wear.
Some metal stamps for jewelry come with holes already punched, but not all of them. You can punch a hole either by purchasing specialized hole-punching tools to stamp the hole yourself or by using hole-punching pliers.
If you feel like your finished product is a little drab, you can alter the texture using specialized hammers. They can imprint lines, zig-zags, dimples, and more.
To create a curved effect on a simple blank, you'll need to get yourself a dapping block. They come with circular daps in varying sizes which allow you to use curved hammers to add an indentation or cupped effect.
If you're worried about ruining your design - don't be! Dapping doesn't affect the design of your stamp.
The Only Limit Is Your Imagination!
Metal stamping takes a little practice to get right, but by following the steps in this guide, you'll have it down pat. If you'd like to learn more about the amazing art of metal stamping, check out the education section on our site for more detailed instructions on creating specific projects and learning new metal stamping techniques!