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Seastar
12-23-2009, 10:56 AM
I bought two sets of steel letter/number stamps - 1/4" and 1/8" to stamp some data on the receiver of a gun I am building.
I have practiced stamping on some scrap metal and have a tough time getting the letters and numbers even.
All kinds of solutions and fixtures come to mind but I thought I would ask the experts here for the "best" way to make the numbers even.
What do you guys do????
Bill

38_Cal
12-23-2009, 11:04 AM
Unless you're building a field piece (canon), those sizes are much too large to look good. I use 1/16" for both letters and figures. For flat surfaces, I use three or four layers of masking tape against a pencilled line, with the edges of the tape forming a guide to the bottom of the stamp. I used to use the same method for round barrels, but I picked up a LaBounty stamp guide when I worked for Brownells http://www.brownells.com/.aspx/pid=26535/Product/STEEL_STAMP_GUIDE, and use it with no problems. You could clamp the guide to a flat surface and use it, as well. Use tape on one edge of the guide body and a couple of machinist's clamps suitably padded on the opposite side.

David

JCHannum
12-23-2009, 11:35 AM
Agreed that the sizes are too large. A tip I got from a gunsmith friend along the same lines as the multiple masking tape is to use Dymo tape to align the stamp. Put the tape at the level of the desired imprint and set the edge of the character against it. The tape is soft enough to give when the character is stamped, but thick enough to locate it. In use, the character itself is located by the tape, not the body of the stamp.

Another help when stamping individual characters is to stamp from right to left. This makes the previous character visible. This applies, of course to right handed people, holding the stamp in the left hand.

cuslog
12-23-2009, 11:59 AM
I saw a photo in a thread regarding this at homegunsmith.com.
The guy had drilled a hole in the end of a piece of round bar, put in a cross bolt so he could clamp the stamp then put the round bar into a collet in his mill. Then you've got the X/Y movements of the table to position the part under the stamp, the cross bolt helps to "clock" the stamp as well.
He said he could stamp softer materials by hand with just the quill handle,
on harder material he lowered the quill and tapped on the drawbar nut.

Bill Pace
12-23-2009, 12:24 PM
This gizmo is from Projects in Metal in 1992 or 93 by Glen Wilson - I've got it in vol 3 of "The Best of Projects in Metal" titled "A Precision Metal Stamper"

Mr Wilson turned out some really neat stuff and this has to be one of my favorites -- it works so really well! As mentioned in the previous post being able to use the mill to assist in indexing/spacing and the rigidity and adjustibility of this tool allows for some really nice lettering - and in a surprisingly different setups (tho, on a gun it might lose some of it ability)

It has a cocking mechanism and on lowering the quill it will trip, and a large internal spring releases, driving the stamp at a consistant force every time and using the table drives or a rotary table or spindexer, etc you really get some nice lettering.

http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b301/pace1980/IMG_0553.jpg

Mcgyver
12-23-2009, 01:18 PM
Bill, that is a very nice rig and great idea.

A friend of mine when doing his T&D apprenticeship at GM said he had to spend two weeks in the stamp room. Apparently that's how you get so you can stamp straight and judge spacing between characters.

I've had a parade of nice shop made tools through my shop over the years. stuff from estates and whatnot, and I am amazed at how many otherwise very nicely made tools look like they came from kindergarten because the stamping is so crooked.

It's well worth figuring out. I'm not spending two weeks in the stamp shop so you need a guide. Bill's is excellent. I've also knocked up simple rigs with a couple of pieces of hardwood - so long as there's something to rest the stamp against in two planes. Another idea is the Universal Pillar Tool....it has a configuration and bushing made for stamping. Clamp a fence to the table and away you go

http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b201/michael0100/upt/uptsqbushing.jpg

http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b201/michael0100/upt/uptwithpunch.jpg

Furnace
12-23-2009, 02:49 PM
This is strange. I just built a device like the one JCHannum described. I used a piece of 1" square block of steel with a 1/4" slot in one end and drilled and tapped for 3/8"-16 and threaded a piece of drill rod to go in it. I took a piece of motor shaft and turned it to fit in my 3/4" collet and cross-drilled it for the 3/8" rod. I milled a flat on the rod so that a set screw would clamp down on it and hold it in place after I set the length I want. Its loosely based on the one that is in one of the Machinist's Bedside Reader books. Works good, I even stamp them with the little hammer I made just for doing this.

TGTool
12-23-2009, 03:36 PM
I made a fixture for stamping dials that holds the number stamp and let's me flip it up to see if it needs another whack. Since both the work and stamp are held I can be sure of registering again in the same spot if it needs more than one hit. There are spring crowders to keep the punch over in one corner if they don't all fit the same. Unfortunately not all the numbers are properly centered on the body so it's not completely bullet proof.

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f244/TGTool/P8160124.jpg

dp
12-23-2009, 03:43 PM
Mr. Ishimura built this simple stand:

http://homepage3.nifty.com/amigos/stamp/punch_mark_holder-e.htm

deltaenterprizes
12-23-2009, 05:26 PM
Great thread! I have been wanting to stamp calibers on rifle barrels but I did not want the work to look like Mcgyver described as looking like it was done by a kindergartener!
The setup in the mill should work for what I need.

Paul Alciatore
12-24-2009, 01:46 AM
I think the first thing you have to know when stamping is that the numbers and letters are not all centered alike on the stamps. Some will be high and some will be low. Also left and right. I found this out the hard way. And I am talking about name brands, not just cheap imports. So, if you use the body of the stamp for guidance, they will NOT come out straight.

Using the masking tape or Dymo tape to align the characters instead of the body of the stamp is a good idea. Or, if you do align with the body, use some shims to get them right. This requires some cut and try and a table of the shims needed for each stamp.

Nothing is ever easy.

Weston Bye
12-24-2009, 07:16 AM
I think the first thing you have to know when stamping is that the numbers and letters are not all centered alike on the stamps. Some will be high and some will be low. Also left and right. I found this out the hard way. And I am talking about name brands, not just cheap imports. So, if you use the body of the stamp for guidance, they will NOT come out straight.

Using the masking tape or Dymo tape to align the characters instead of the body of the stamp is a good idea. Or, if you do align with the body, use some shims to get them right. This requires some cut and try and a table of the shims needed for each stamp.

Nothing is ever easy.

Never occurred to me that the number or letter might not be centered. Rather than dealing with tables and shims, why not grind whatever side of the stamp is used for justification. Once all the stamps are ground, they will always line up when using the guide.

lynnl
12-24-2009, 11:06 AM
Though this is a slight departure from the original post, I thought it somewhat relevant.

Last night while browsing through an old catalog from Garret Wade (woodworking) I came across a stamping set that comprised a number/ltr set and a stamping tool made like an automatic center punch. In place of the normal punch tip, it had a little square socket for holding the stamps.

Anyone ever seen or used one of those before? I thought it was a clever idea if it works well.

Bill Pace
12-24-2009, 11:55 AM
number/ltr set and a stamping tool made like an automatic center punch. In place of the normal punch tip, it had a little square socket for holding the stamps.

Anyone ever seen or used one of those before? I thought it was a clever idea if it works well.

I got one - from another source - and probably the reason its shown in a woodworking catalog is it probably only works on wood! the spring just hasnt got enough 'oomph' to put a useable dent into metal - its is so-so on aluminum. All and all, it wasnt very impressive...

TGTool
12-24-2009, 12:09 PM
Though this is a slight departure from the original post, I thought it somewhat relevant.

Last night while browsing through an old catalog from Garret Wade (woodworking) I came across a stamping set that comprised a number/ltr set and a stamping tool made like an automatic center punch. In place of the normal punch tip, it had a little square socket for holding the stamps.

Anyone ever seen or used one of those before? I thought it was a clever idea if it works well.

There are heavy duty ones that will stamp on metal. We looked at a couple options for an industrial automation project. You could actually make one yourself once you understand the principle, scaling up the spring and weighted slug inside. It's not only spring pressure that does the work, but the energy imparted by the weight. Some of the heavy duty ones are designed to take a line of print so you know they've got some muscle behind them.

lynnl
12-24-2009, 01:13 PM
That Garrett Wade description said something like "...wood, plastic, and mild (or "soft" maybe??) steel..."

Nevertheless, I'd think it would certainly be do-able to make one that performed ok on metals. Bigger, heavier, stronger springs, etc.

However, I'm not sure what's to be gained over just the handheld stamp and the ol' tried and true hammer. ...since the problem isn't really the 'whomping' but the alignment and spacing.

I also have that book with the Glenn Wilson stamping tool. Found it fascinating, but never bothered to try making it. I appreciate hearing your evaluation of it Bill. I may give it a try one day, just for giggles.

Jim Caudill
12-24-2009, 01:29 PM
For those of you that mentioned the variability in stamp location from punch to punch, it's a little pricey, but you can buy stamp sets that are designed to be used in a holder. They DO have the stamp properly located for each of the letters/numbers. They also make holders that allow you to assemble the punches into whatever arrangement you wish, prior to punching. I'm guessing that it would take a lot more force to stamp a 5 letter word than just stamping one letter at a time. Also, the holder would not work well for curved surfaces; however, the punch set might be desirable just for the standardization.

Edited to insert forgotten link:
Here's a link to the MSC page. You may note that letter sets are around $180 and number sets are around $50; But also note for those of you that wish to stamp a caliber of some other repeatable stamp, you can buy just the individual "type" to make up your own punch. On the catalog page before (1881) I noted that they sell "hand cut" and "machine made" stamps. It may be that the "machine made" stamps would offer greater uniformity of character location.
http://metalworking.mscdirect.com/CGI/NNPDFF?PMPAGE=1882&PMITEM=53989893&PMCTLG=54

MichaelP
12-24-2009, 06:30 PM
On edit: Here's a link to the MSC page. Where?:p :D

Paul Alciatore
12-24-2009, 06:48 PM
Never occurred to me that the number or letter might not be centered. Rather than dealing with tables and shims, why not grind whatever side of the stamp is used for justification. Once all the stamps are ground, they will always line up when using the guide.


That would work. You could also grind all two or four sides to bring them all to the same overall size and to allow any side to be used for positioning.

Sounds like more work than just doing the shims.

RichTes
12-24-2009, 07:20 PM
What is the dividing line between stamping and engraving? For no apparent reason or need I bought a Deckel engraver.

Rich

38_Cal
12-24-2009, 10:45 PM
Rich, stamping displaces excess metal to leave a desired mark, engraving removes it entirely.

David

Weston Bye
12-25-2009, 07:55 AM
That would work. You could also grind all two or four sides to bring them all to the same overall size and to allow any side to be used for positioning.

Sounds like more work than just doing the shims.

Yep, but you would only have to do it once, rather than messing with shims every time and run the risk of getting it wrong.

firbikrhd1
12-25-2009, 08:15 AM
As I read this thread a thought occurred to me. How about using a holder that is held in the head of a shaper. The ram can be moved to any required position over the table, the table traversed side to side using the dials to place stamps precisely where you want them. Work is clamped to the table or held in a vise. The holder could be very simple, a square the proper size to allow the stamp to slide which is attached to the head and a small hammer used to strike the stamp.
This would not address stamps that have the characters not positioned exactly the same from stamp to stamp, but would still provide spacing that is more accurate than most hand held methods.

Tony Ennis
12-25-2009, 09:12 AM
It sure seems like for accurately spaced and aligned lettering one would want to either buy carefully made punches or make them true.

Forestgnome
09-05-2011, 12:59 PM
Rich, stamping displaces excess metal to leave a desired mark, engraving removes it entirely.

David
Just as a side note, the BATF requires gun markings to be stamped. That's because x-rays can bring out original markings from the stress in the metal if they were ground off for nefarious reasons.

Forestgnome
09-05-2011, 01:01 PM
A question for those who use masking tape for alignment. Any tips for achieving accurate spacing between letters?

madman
09-06-2011, 07:39 AM
On Machined Blocks I simply use a clamp to hold a parallel up against the back with part of the Parallel proud of the surface for the square (you are talking square bodied Punches Right? ) and guide the punch body against it. For spacing eyeballs good, dont do it after 12 beers or so. Hope Helps. Mike

A.K. Boomer
09-06-2011, 08:49 AM
I must have a pretty good set of stamps both in numbers and letters --- All Iv ever done is put a straight edge down on shims at a raised height so I can get the flat of the stamp shafts involved for alignment - for spacing all I do Is use the last letter or number involved and fit it into it's stamped surface - then place the next number or letter to the right of it.

loply
09-08-2011, 04:12 PM
for spacing all I do Is use the last letter or number involved and fit it into it's stamped surface - then place the next number or letter to the right of it.

So how do you stamp the letters MM when stamping the size of something? :D

Chris S.
09-08-2011, 05:46 PM
So how do you stamp the letters MM when stamping the size of something? :D

I'm getting senile. It took me >30 sec to get it!! :eek:

gwilson
09-08-2011, 05:55 PM
One thing you can do to get letters to line up is to scribe a line in the metal. The stamps must be crisp on their edges. Starting above the scribed line,draw the stamp down until you feel it engage the scribed line. Then stamp. Stamp in the vertical position,then rock the stamp 4 times,striking it 4 times on each "corner"of the letter or number,to assure that you got the whole letter stamped. The scribe line can be abraded away later. I always gently file over stamped letters,and then use wet or dry. It looks cheap to leave metal sticking up around your letters or numbers. This is something that most manufacturers fail to do,and it looks bad.

Paul Alciatore
09-08-2011, 06:26 PM
A question for those who use masking tape for alignment. Any tips for achieving accurate spacing between letters?

This brings to mind an old joke: A new, southern, female air traffic controller directed two planes to land from opposite directions on the same runway. When her supervisor quickly brought the situation to her attention, she radioed the two pilots in her best southern drawl, "Youallll be carefull, now!"