As I said in my last post, I’ve been looking at different ways to make steel punches that I can use for carvings. So far my materials include O1 drill rod from Enco, hot rolled and cold rolled stock from Menards, an old screwdriver, and a 3″ cut nail. I feel like I’m either getting closer to the goal or expecting too much.
My first challenge is to make a tool crisp enough in detail for stamping in red oak so I can make a Maltese cross impression or some other design. When you look at sets for punching numbers and letters, ridges are well defined and prominent on those stamps. I have a set and appreciate their ability to make crisp impressions. However, the stamps that Peter Follansbee and others make to decorate the carving on reproductions of 17th Century Furniture are far less detailed. That makes sense when you look at the 17th Century furniture shown on the Marhamchurch Antiques website which illustrates those types of stamped features. So for a newbie on making steel stamps/punches, learning how much detail to incorporate is basically trial and error. My hope is to reach a point where my stamped impressions in wood can truly compliment the chisel work. Somehow those stamped impressions have to look nice enough, but not appear so regular to look manufactured.
So here is my latest attempt using 1/4″ hot rolled steel. I used a knife file, fine milling file, and some needle files to shape the Maltese cross. Here are some impressions. The two impressions on the left were made with the old screwdriver punch that I tweaked some more yesterday. I used a black sharpie on the cross so you could see it better. I also have some 3/16″ cold rolled steel that I can try next. As you can imagine, it is trickier to file a crisp design in smaller stock. So far my efforts to use a cut nail gave me a basic plus shape about 1/8″ wide. Since the maltese cross in Follansbee’s work is about 5/32″ wide or about 4 mm, I’m striving to get the shape and the size of my punches to roughly correspond. That is the second challenge, to make a stamp small enough to make the statement I want for 17th Century furniture reproduction.