Stainless Steel Stamping
Considerations for stamping stainless steel
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Here we go, I’m finally getting the first thread posted, THANK YOU to everyone for your patience. I just want to begin by saying how honored I am that so many of you have joined this team so quickly. I hope that it proves to be informative and helpful for all of us on the team.
As most of you are probable aware, stainless steel (SST) is highly resistive to corrosion and thus does not tarnish (oxidizing will be another topic soon.) That contributes to it’s being desirable for jewelry use along with it’s being very strong and durable. As such it begs the questions, how is it to work with? And, how will it affect my tools?
To begin it’s fair to say that most of the initial suggestions really apply to whatever metal you’re working with but are especially helpful when working with stainless steel.
First of all you want to begin with a good solid working surface. If not you can encounter a bounce action which can produce a double imprint or shadow rather than a nice clean impression. Also if your working surface is not stable you will most likely end up with a shallow imprint instead of a good deep impression. I personally use a 4x4 post w/ a couple of small cross boards at the bottom to support it. Click the link to see a picture:
Besides being very solid it also helps reduce noise which is particularly helpful if you do any shows, it keeps from giving customers a scar when stamping while talking with them. If you stamp on a large table, the table acts like a sounding board and amplifies the sound. With the post, the sound is not much more than a little “plink”. Atop the post I have a 4x4 steel bench block which has a rubber base (removable), which helps reduce noise but with no bounce. There is a 2x2 version but for just a little more money you get way more working surface with the 4x4.
The next thing that will have a significant impact on whether you get good results is the stamps you use. For lettering I primarily use stamps from Infinity Stamps, a bit spendy but VERY good quality. I do not have to hit my stamps much harder when using SST blanks than what I do for silver (I use a 1 lb. brass hammer, brass keeps from mushrooming the end of the stamps.) If you should decide to have them make some custom stamps for you, be sure to mention that you are using them on SST and they will do a little different profile on the cutting edges. I now want to talk about the round shank design stamps that are very popular. They have a wide variety of designs available and they certainly are affordable. I don’t mean to offend anyone but the few that I purchased do not have sharp cutting edges and I found them difficult to use even silver, on SST they’re down right scary ##O## Rio Grande has a pretty good selection of square shank design stamps that work great and are affordable as well. I also just got a couple of the new ImpressArt stamps and my wife really likes them and they do a pretty good job too considering they are on the bigger side.
I know most of you are probably wondering, but what about wear on my tools? Again, SST is tough stuff and so stamps will not last as long as if you only stamp softer metals. However the cost will easily be more than offset by the cost savings of using SST compared to silver. And SST also enables you to offer items with lower price points without sacrificing quality which will have good appeal to your customers.
That’s it for now, I hope you find this useful and sorry it got a bit wordy (lot to describe). I look forward to any thoughts/suggestions anyone else might have on this topic.
Posted at 11:20 pm Apr 28, 2011 EDT
I was researching stainless and saw that there are many different finishes. Can you tell me what the best finish to use for jewelry? I was wondering about scratching from the addition of dangling charms rubbing against the pendants all the time.
Thanks for starting this team! I love it. :o)
Posted at 7:45 am May 2, 2011 EDT
The blanks in my Shop are very shiny, even more so than silver gets when you polish it on a buffer. SST will get small scratches from dangling charms. Possible finishes could be a brushed finish, achieved by using Scotch-Brite or fine sand paper. You could also consider a hammered finish which is something I haven't actually tried myself.
I'm happy to hear you like the team, glad to have you with us :)
Posted at 9:08 pm May 2, 2011 EDT
Thanks for the information. Almost every piece I do has some type of dangle so I think the brushed look will be a good way to go. I have tried the hammered finish on a couple of SST washers, that were heavily scratched, from the hardware store and it made a huge difference in the appearance. It changed it from looking used to being apart of the appeal of the piece.
Posted at 11:11 am May 3, 2011 EDT
You could use a polishing buffer, it will bring up a bit of shine but as the stainless is so tough it will not be perfectly smooth an it is a bit slow. Tumbling is probably the way to go for any significant volume, I personally am not too concerned over the edges at this point, as the sharpness is so minute.
Yes I use the Power Punch for putting the holes in the blanks I sell.
Posted at 8:21 pm May 8, 2011 EDT