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Old 10-12-2008, 05:44 AM
paul66 paul66 is offline
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Australia Vic Horsham
Posts: 73
Default Pauls Tutorial:Making a Punch

(If you would like to comment on this submission, you may do so by posting a reply in this thread. Thanks! Kaitlin

This should be titled NOT GETTING ANY WORK DONE (I am easily distracted)
While looking for more copper wire, which I remember drawing up some in my trade school years, I came across a stamp I had made.
At trade school there was a week of graphic drawing and part or that was coming up with your monogram in some design, two of the designs I thought could be made up into a makers stamp, and while at work one day (easily distracted ) I fashioned one from a nail. This was carved held in a vice, using a hand loop small dental drills and a setting graver.Although it turned out OK it is totally unusable as it is too large for most projects and not sharp enough, but it was at the limit of my tools at the time, it did however earn me a credit at trade school.

So here I am several years later looking fondly at my stamp, thinking I should now be able to make a better smaller one, lets give it a go.

First step was to locate some 3'' 3.5mm dia plain steel nails, you dont want galvanized or stainless steel, as these will need different heat treatments, plain steel is fairly easy to heat treat and experiment with. I am no expert but I routinely re-temper setting punches and other tools, There is plenty of advice on the net for specifics but mostly is just a case of experimenting and giving it a go, If you a working on old tools that are not much good, you have nothing to loose.

I started by heated up the nail with a torch to a bright red color and let air cool, this will soften the metal and make it workable, I then cut off the pointed end and filed the end to give a nice flat working surface.
A handy hint that I use to test a tools metals hardness is to just rub lightly a file across the metals surface, if it glides over it like glass the metal is hard, if it wants to bite in the metal is annealed and soft, this is handy when you a tempering a metal as you can check if you have gone too far and softened it again.

I found my original art work for my punch ideas, I decided to try and cut out the circular design this time, and plan to make the punch about 2mm wide.

I am going to outline the design on the nail using my gravergraph machine, This has a scale reduction of up to 6 times.
As I want the punch to be around 2mm, I scaled my design down to 12mm wide, also remembering to reverse the design, as the punch has to be in reverse, to print the right way.

well that all the freedom I could afford today, will try to finish this up in the next day or so

Yours Paul
Old 10-16-2008, 08:30 AM
paul66 paul66 is offline
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Australia Vic Horsham
Posts: 73
Default Re: Pauls Tutorial:Making a Punch

Hello, Back to finish this project

I would like in advance to apologize for some of the out of focus pictures, I dont know if it was the scale of the subject me or the camera, but I had great difficultly even achieving these pictures, I think in future I should work on subjects MUCH bigger.

I set up the nail in my engravers ball to work on under my microscope, on full power it takes up just under 1/3 the view and the work area is even smaller, but this is still a HUGE improvement than my first effort under a hand loop.

Now this is where I supposedly dazzle everyone, but on my first attempt I engraved my boarder too close to my guide line and stuffed it up. However a few file strokes and back in the gravergraph and 2 minutes later I could have another attempt.


OK this is the one.
First I want to engrave the outline or boarder for my stamp, but this time I cut well away from the guide line, In fact because of the scale of the stamp, the smallest slip or bulge of metal may mean starting over so I plan to engrave all my lines away from the guide lines and as I achieve the depth I want I will slowly reduce the thickness of the walls I am engraving.

I next realized I did not have a graver small enough for the engraving, Using a Lindsays template I ground a very small knife graver that had a very small flat heal ground on the bottom, This was used for the whole engraving.

After the outline, all the background was cut away in small stages, slowly adding depth because if a big cut was attempted you ran the risk or distorting the metal around your cut. Also Don't cutaway and leave the "lines" too thin or they will be too fragile and may break off, Eventually you want them to taper from a fine short point down to a broad base down to the background, but this is not achieved just yet.

After the depth was achieved I wanted to level the background evenly, I made a small fine punch by spinning an old broken drill bit up over a file to get a long fine taper with the smallest flat on the end, this was just hand pushed over the background to flatten it evenly

To achieve the tapered "lines" you could engrave the taper but one slip would mean starting over, Instead I used a polished carbide starlight bur in my drill handpiece. This burnished and polished the metal to a taper and by doing both sides you achieved your point .

Next I removed the remainder sides of the punch

Next job is to reharden the metal and then temper it so it is not too brittle. My experience with this is only at an amateur level but this is quite adequate for using this punch on soft metals gold or silver, If it were to be used on steel you would need a much more accurate method to heat treat and temper the tool like a thermostat controlled furnace, or send the tool away for heat treatment.

To make the tool hard again its a simple matter to heat the tip again under the torch till its red, then immediately dip it while red into a cup of water. Now the punch is hard again but brittle, it needs to be tempered for any practical use.

To temper the punch it needs to be reheated again but to a lower heat, to gauge this temperature you will need to observe the metals color as you heat it up.
First clean all the discoloration from the end of the nail with emery paper, this will make it easier to see the color changes on the metal.

This next bit is better performed with the lights turned off so you can better observe the color changes on the metal. Start to heat the meal, but not at the tip, a bit further down, I wave the torch back and forth across the metal slowly, when there is a fine "straw" color where you are heating you lift the flame up towards the tool tip drawing that color along the meal, as soon as it has reached the tip, again quench the metal into water, it should be hard but tempered.
To test lightly rub a file over near the tip, it still should have that glassy feel, if it wants to file you have gone too far with the tempering, but its no loss as you just reharden it again and try again. It took me a second go to get it right.

Now test it


I would recommend a bit of experimenting on another nail the color changes metal goes through when you heat it, under low lights its easy to observe. Also the way you move this color along a piece of metal is useful to practice. If the metal just seems to go red, try heating it slower, and make sure the metal is clean to begin with when tempering. A little bit of practice will help you when it comes to the real thing. Also remember to test the tempering with a file, but dont file your work by mistake

Yours Paul
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