Metal Stamps – Tips and Techniques

by Rena Klingenberg.
(Jewelry Making Journal)

Metal Stamps - Tips and Techniques Tutorial by Rena Klingenberg

Metal stamps created the lettering on this washer pendant.

Metal stamps are fun, creative jewelry making tools.

These tips and techniques show you how to get great results, from the very first time you try metal stamping jewelry.

Learning the Technique:

It takes a bit of practice to get nice, even results when metal stamping jewelry.

I recommend practicing on pieces of scrap metal while you get familiar with using the stamps.

Metal Stamping Tools

In addition to your metal stamps, you’ll need just a couple of basic metal stamping tools:

  • A jeweler’s steel block or other very smooth, hard surface that can take some banging.
  • A metal hammer with a flat face; I use a regular hardware-store hammer. A fairly heavy hammer that’s still comfortable for you to use can make your stampings turn out better. (Don’t use your rawhide or nylon jewelry hammers on jewelry stamps – they’ll get torn up quickly.)

Other helpful items to have handy:

  • A small piece of non-skid, rubberized shelf liner.
  • Masking tape, blue painter’s tape, or post-it notes.
  • Fine-tip Sharpie markers, in black and / or any other colors you wish.
  • Rubbing alcohol, to remove excess Sharpie ink from your metal.

Tip for Using
Number and Letter Stamps

I recommend using a Sharpie marker to write the stamp’s number or letter on it:

Now it’s much easier to find the right stamp while you’re working on your project.

Also, if you’ve written your number or letter on the side of the stamp that will be facing you when you do your stamping, you’ll always know which way to hold it.

That helps you avoid accidentally stamping a letter or number upside down or sideways – which is a terribly easy mistake to make!

How to Label Dark-Colored Stamps:

If your stamps are black instead of light gray, you can dab a small spot of white paint near the top of each stamp.

After the paint dries, you can write the letter on each stamp’s white-painted spot with a black marker.

Getting Beautiful Results with Your
Metal Stamps

Part of stamping’s handmade charm is the imperfect alignment and spacing of letters and numbers.

If you embrace the lovely, rustic quality of metal jewelry stamping, you’ll get a lot of pleasure from this art form.

Here are a few techniques that can help you get beautiful results:

Put a small piece of rubberized, non-skid shelf liner under your steel block to hold your working surface completely still while you hammer:

Some people like to use masking tape to tape the item they’re stamping to the steel block. This helps them hold the item steady while stamping it.

Before you start, line up all the metal stamps you’ll use for your project and put them in the order in which you’ll need them:

This can help you avoid making “typos” in your project!

It also makes it easier for you to stay in your rhythm of hitting each stamp uniformly with the same amount of force.


Hit each stamp only once with your hammer. If you hit it more than once, you’re likely to get blurred or double images.

To keep your stamped message in more of a straight line as you work, you can use one of these methods before you start:

  • Use a ruler and fine-point Sharpie marker to draw a “baseline” on your metal, so you’ll know where to set each stamp.
  • Or instead of drawing a Sharpie line, place a strip of masking tape, blue painter’s tape, or the sticky end of a post-it note on your piece of metal to mark the baseline for your text.

Only Part of My Stamp is Making an Impression in the Metal!

This can happen sometimes, especially with intricate stamp designs. Try this technique to get the full design:

Place the stamp where you want the letter to go on your metal.

Then slightly rock the stamp toward you and hammer it; then slightly rock the stamp away from you and hammer it again.

Make Your Metal Jewelry Stamping
More Visible

It can be hard to read a stamped message on metal, unless you bring out the letters or numbers with color:

On sterling silver and copper, you can darken your stampwork beautifully by oxidizing the piece, then cleaning most of the oxidization off of everything but the letters or numbers.

You can get a similar effect on most metals by using Gilders Paste to darken your stamping.

Also on most types of metal, you can use fine-tip Sharpie markers to color or darken your stamping:

And depending on your project, you may want to use colors other than black.

Here Santa enjoys a jolly bit of red, while Frosty sports a chilly shade of blue:

(The Santa and snowman Christmas ornaments above were something my mom had lying around that got snatched up and stamped! I don’t know the source of them. You may find something similar in your local craft store or by an online search for something like “flat metal Christmas ornaments”.)

After coloring your stamping with Sharpies, you can easily wipe off the excess ink using a small piece of paper towel soaked in rubbing alcohol:

I hope you enjoy the wonderful design possibilities of metal stamps.

It’s a beautiful form of texting on jewelry! :o)

Please share your tips for
metal stamping jewelry!


Well Written Tutorial
by: Noreen

Your tutorials are always so clearly written and easily understood and followed. I do have one suggestion to add: Be sure to hold the stamp straight up and down, because if it is the least tilted the impression will not be evenly deep. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

Great Tutorial
by: Michelle

Thank you for sharing your tutorial! It is so clear and easy to understand!

my version – stamping brass
by: Thejoyfulgem

A friend sent an etched brass slab. I cut, finished edges and carried the daydreamer theme to the backside of the pendant. I love this look. May just have to keep it for myself. I wasn’t sure it would turn out since one side was already etched, but I was surprised and pleased with the result.

stamping blanks

I love the colored blanks & tags you used to stamp on. Where can I get those?

Source for colored tags and other stuff I stamped
by: Rena

Thanks for asking!

The cream-colored and gunmetal mini-tags you can see in my review of the American Typewriter letter stamps are made by “7 Gypsies”, and I ordered them from Ornamentea. I think they all came in packs of about 12.

The 7 Gypsies rectangular mini-tags I used are called “photo turns” and the round ones are “photo frames”. I think they’re actually intended to be scrapbooking supplies, so you may want to check in that section of local craft stores.

All of the washers (metal donuts) I used came from a local hardware store.

The Santa and snowman Christmas ornaments – I’m sorry I don’t know the source – they were something my mom had lying around that got snatched up and stamped! :o)

I recommend looking through your jewelry supplies (and items around the house) for all sorts of metal doo-dads that have stamping potential!

by: Anonymous

Of course Ornamentea! I forget about about neat and funky items they have.

Thanks so much

Random Letters are Fun, too!
by: Virginia Vivier – Esprit Mystique

I’m not as good as Rena is at keeping the letters in a nice straight line. I made a few pendants with random placement of letters and it gives a fun, casual look to the message. Then, when I make a mistake, and one letter is higher or lower than it should be, it’s OK.

by: Made by JD

Great tutorial Rena!

Love your tips. Can’t wait to do some stamping too!

Where did you get your stamps?

I noticed that has some like this.

Yes, they are Infinity stamps
by: Rena

Thanks so much, Jeannie!

Also, these are the same stamps I reviewed here: Letter Stamps.

great tutorial
by: Anonymous

I do practice on a piece of leather, draw the shape of my blank on it and then place the leather on the block and stamp your design that way when you stamp your blank you know how to space the word and will know what your design is going to look like!!
Believe me I ruined lots of my silver disks before I started using the leather and now after a lot of practice my works is finally looking much better.

No waste!
by: Debra Gikas

In order not to waste my copper, i practice stamp on a small legal pad…The impression it leaves shows me I am getting better at getting it straight…AND it has lines! Of course it is not the same hardness for practicing depth…but it has been helpful to me.

thank you
by: Agnes

I have been searching and searching for more info on metal stamping….bought a book, some tools and waiting for my blanks to arrive. Going to start on this new jewelry making idea…..and your info was the first that makes the instructions so clear and easy to understand….thank you

defining letters
by: Gail

i love metal stamping and working on learning more… what i have tried is the liver of sulfer to darken the letters. this technique does work but looking at the pieces on etsy for example the letter look way more defined and darker. does anyone have suggestions on how to accomplish this?

by: Anonymous

when i hit the stamp only once, it doesnt leave an indention. i guess im not hitting it hard enough. when i hit it multiple times, it doesnt blur. how can you hit it only once and still get a visible letter?

Hitting the stamp just once
by: Rena

Hi Anonymous,

What kind of hammer are you using? Maybe that’s the issue.

I use an ordinary, regular size, metal hardware-store hammer.

I make sure I’m holding the stamp completely straight up and down, and then give it one good whack with the hammer.

Also, what kind of surface are you stamping? I found that there were a few hardware store washers that were nearly impossible to make a mark in with my stamps. At the moment I can’t recall what metal those were made of, but it was very hard stuff.

Luckily I had bought a variety of washer types to experiment with!

Please let me know if you still need help! :o)

Re: help
by: Anonymous

i am using just a regular store hammer as well. this is my first time to try, so i was just doing it on a magazine i didnt care about! HA! would doing it on concrete be ok? like my garage floor? or does it need to be on metal? what kind of metal is good to do it on? should i buy one specifically for the purpose of metal stamping? i think im scared to give it one good wack! HAHA! scared ill miss!

Stamping without hitting your fingers
by: Rena

I can totally understand worrying about missing the stamp and hammering your fingers instead! :o)

And about using concrete as your stamping surface – I think the concrete would leave marks on the back of the piece you’re stamping – which you may not want.

I use a square metal jewelry anvil as shown in the photos above, and it works very well for that purpose. If you don’t have one, you may want to check your hardware / home improvement store for something similar made of metal with a smooth surface.

You might want to start practicing stamping on a notepad or post-it note pad. That way you can get a good feel for your stamps and how to hammer them without having to practice on expensive jewelry supplies.

You can start by hitting the stamp softly till you feel good about your aim with the hammer, then gradually try hitting harder. You may have to stamp up several sheets of the notepad till you hit your stride with the hammer, but practice is the best way to develop your technique.

Please let me know how you progress, and if you have any other questions! :o)

Practical Tutorial
by: B

Thank you so much! I love how practical your tutorial is, as you use simple items such as a regular hammer rather than an expensive stamping hammer, and shelf liners, rather than fancy rubber block, a sharpie instead of dangerous oxidizers…

Thanks for proving that this can be done cost efficiently!

Thank you!
by: Rena

Thanks so much for your kind feedback, B! I try to keep things simple, low-cost, and less toxic whenever possible.

The sharpie-darkening technique is actually quite durable.

Last summer I stamped a washer with my son’s name and blackened the letters with a sharpie marker. This washer is used as a “name tag” on his mess-kit bag for Boy Scouts.

This bag (including its stamped name tag) has been on numerous scout camping trips – where it’s been washed, rained on, dragged around, subjected to all kinds of weather and other hard use – but the sharpie-blackening hasn’t faded or washed off the metal tag at all. It’s still just as dark and well filled-in as it was when it was new.

by: B

That is great! I will definitely be using the Sharpie method. πŸ™‚ As I’ve been looking into this further, I had a question for you: What has your experience (if any) been like using aluminum blanks. Does the sharpie then rubbing alcohol work okay on aluminum too?

I’m sixteen years old and I’m going to be making a metal stamped necklace for my mom for mother’s day, with the names of her children (4) the foster children we have cared for (2 so far). Then, if we have other little ones who stay with us, I will add their names to the necklace.

All of that to say that using sterling discs gets kind of pricey for the amount I need, so I’m looking for a cheaper option…


B – Using Sharpies on Aluminum
by: Rena

Hi B, I’m pretty sure that aluminum washers have been among the items I’ve stamped and then darkened with sharpies.

If you’re looking for low-priced, stampable metal discs and donuts that aren’t sterling silver, check in your local hardware store or Lowe’s / Home Depot. Lots of interesting, cheap metal items there!

Craft and scrapbooking stores also sometimes have doodads with potential for stamping.

On my Letter Stamps page, the small round and rectangular tags came from Ornamentea – they are mini photo-frames and photo-turns that were quite cheap to buy. They weren’t made for the purpose of stamping, but they worked really well for it!

I love the idea of the Mother’s Day necklace with your mom’s children and foster children. A fantastic idea, and I’m sure she will treasure it.

You were a temptress!
by: Sheri from Edmonton, AB

I love you already! Your clear and tempting tutorial got my mind ticking for Xmas gifts to relatives, promo items for my husband’s small business or a simple “here’s a gift for you for being such a nice person!” that today, I bought the only and last metal stamp (so I had no choice of font)and anvil at my local jewelry store supplier. The other tools I already have so I will keep my eyes open for any metal in the house to get started! Yahoo! Thanks for the idea!!

cleaning with alcohol
by: Anonymous

thank you so much for your great tutorial. I have just gotten my alphabet stamps last week and have tried cutting some metal sheet that i bought, but not very successfully. I tried stamping and got an impression but very faint. i did not know about the sharpie and cleaning the excess off with alcohol. cannot wait to try that this afternoon. and i must not be hitting it hard enough. my workbench has a bit of a bounce to it, so will have to find a different surface.

I found my steel lettering stamps
by: Anonymous

At Harbor Freight. They have 1/8″, 1/4″ and larger letters!

by: Cath Mc

I have come across your tutorial by accident-i am now going to leave this site and find a website to buy a set of metal stamps and some copper blanks-Thank you so much for sharing. You have inspired me to try a new craft.
Your a excellent tutor!
Best Wishes from the UK xx

Glad to hear it!
by: Rena

I’m absolutely thrilled to hear how much this tutorial has helped / inspired so many folks here. Like most jewelry activities, stamping is quite addictive – no metal surface in your house will be safe after this! πŸ™‚

Oh What Fun!
by: Nancy Vaughan

Thanks for all of the information on using sharpies. And thank you Rena for providing a place where we can exchange idea and learn from each other.

A few weeks ago I borrowed a set of stamps from a friend just to play around with. Well, I don’t mind telling you I had more fun than I expected so I had to buy my own set of stamps. Since I work primarily with copper and use a lot of sheet metal I had plenty of scraps to practice on.

Quite some time ago I bought some metal snip. They are great for making straight line cuts and convex curves. They are also great for making shapes for stamping especially if you like to work with free forms.

I’ve done stamping on both copper and brass sheet as well as commercially made discs in both metals. And I have discovered if you add color from a torch you have limitless design possibilities.

by: Anonymous

I SEEM to have a couple options for buying my metal stamps. Beadsmith has some cheap ones but I want to make sure they are good quality. Are there certain characteristics these stamps should have? Made of a certain type of steel for instance? I dont knwo where to get them. Are they all pretty much the same?

Different brands of stamps
by: Rena

Hi Anonymous, I don’t think I can answer your question.

I would phone any of the suppliers you’re considering. Ask what the metal is, and where they feel these stamps fall on the quality scale. Most suppliers have staff who are knowledgeable about their products and willing to answer nearly anything you ask about them.

My experience with metal stamps is limited to the three sets I own:

1) A cheap, generic stamp set I bought years ago – in this set, two of the stamps came with a manufacturing goof. On the number 4 stamp and the letter C stamp of this set, the characters are messed up so you can’t read the stamping from them. I’m not sure what type of metal they are, but I’ve seen a very similar stamp set (not sure if it’s the same product) on several of the major jewelry suppliers’ websites. They came in a burgundy-colored plastic case with a sky-blue sticker that says “Pittsburgh”.

2) Another cheap, generic stamp set I bought years ago. Not sure what the metal is. This set works fine. It came in a royal-blue plastic case with no stickers or other manufacturer’s info.

3) A stamp set from Infinity Stamps that I’ve had for a year or two. These are much higher quality than my other two sets, and they’re also much higher priced. If you plan to do a lot of stamping, I would go for a higher quality.

I hope this helps somewhat! πŸ™‚

by: Mandy

I just got my stamps yesterday and they are oily. How do I clean them? I do not want them to rust but don’t care for slimy either. Thanks for all the info here. I am ready to get started.

Oil on stamps
by: Rena

Hi Mandy! I would use a cloth rag or paper towel to wipe off the excess oil – especially off the shaft of the stamps so you can hold them without slipping – and then have fun stamping!

by: Susan

Perfect. I just started metal stamping and your tips are extremely helpful. It’s trial by error, and I’ve made most of the ones you’ve already mentioned, so I appreciate your solutions! Keep stamping!

Stamping addiction
by: Rena

Thanks so much for your lovely feedback, Susan! I hope you’ll post some of your stamped creations when you have some you’d like to share here! We’d all love to see the projects you’re doing.

This was so helpful!
by: Fancy Nancy

I am just starting to add some metal stamping into my leather bracelets and am sort of going in blindly. I have had trouble with a few of the things you set straight here. I really appreciate the tips as well, so simple and helpful! Thanks so much! I am about to add the items with metal stamping into my etsy shop (within the next month).

Metal Thickness
by: Alexis

Hi Rena,

I was wondering what metal thickness you use for stamping?

metal stamping
by: Vel

I am wanting to buy some metal stamps, but don’t know about how large to buy. I like the American typewriter look. What mm is that? When looking at what to buy they have 2mm 3mm 4mm 5mm 6mm. I am wanting something that will stay out and be seem clearly. Like a name for instance. Also where to buy and the cost they vary so much.Any help you could give me would be great.

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  • Jeanette says:

    Great tips! I bought a metal stamp set from Pick Your Plum and have yet to use it. Maybe now I won’t be so intimidated to try it! Thanks for sharing.

  • Carissa says:

    That looks so easy! I love the look of stamped jewelry. Maybe now I can make my own

  • This turned out beautiful! Would make a great giveaway!

  • Kathie says:

    Thank you for this! I just received a stamping set and had so-so results from my first attempt. This will help me a lot! Found you via the Inspire Me Monday blog hop!

  • Crystelle says:

    Thank you so much for these tips. I bought my metal stamps but have not yet used them because I am a little bit intimidated. These tips will help me get started! Thanks a TON!

  • Skye says:

    Thanks! I’ve been wanting to try this for a long time, so your tips are helpful!

  • Thanks for the tips! I haven’t tried this project yet, but it’s definitely on my list!

  • I’ve always wanted to try jewelry stamping! thanks for these great tip!
    glad you shared with us at tip toe thru tuesday!

  • Christina says:

    This is great! I’m always trying to find new tips like this on jewelry making. Thanks!

  • laurie says:

    LOVE this idea, Rena! What a wonderfully easy tutorial! I’ve used my stamps on clay tags in the past, but never metal. I think I need to try this out! Thanks for the great lesson today! πŸ™‚

    xoxo laurie

  • Hoopsbyhand says:

    Another great post! You keep coming up with some awesome ideas, and great instructions. You are an inspiration and I am so glad to see another one of your posts, keep up the awesomeness!

  • Hoopsbyhand says:

    Another great post. Thank you for all of your hard work. You do flawless work, and the instructions are perfect. You are amazing and I look forward to the next post:)

  • I have some metal stamps and have been meaning to give it a try, but wasn’t sure where to start. Thanks for the tips–I think I’m ready to give the project a try finally.

  • Mary Beth says:

    I bought some metal stamps months ago but was ‘afraid’ to use them but I think I will try them now.

  • BeColorful says:

    So inspiring and well written. You really make me want to give this a try. Thanks for sharing your tutorial on beColorful

  • Great tips! Thank you for joining TTF last week. Hope to see you again. Have a fun day!

  • Thanks for the great tips! I’ve been wanting to try this for awhile now and I think I’m ready to tackle it!

  • Thanks so much for sharing on craft schooling Sunday, a great post and looks like there’s lots more to learn in the comments!

  • lindsey says:

    LOVE your tip about writing the letters on the stamps.. can’t believe I never thought of that.. I’ve been putting them back in the alphabetical order in the wood block they came in and squinting my eyes!

  • Stacey says:

    This is an amazing tutorial on how to do this! I’ve read a few trying to decide if this is something I want to do/invest in and this is the best resource I’ve seen! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Crystelle says:

    OK, I followed all your tips! Thank you so much! The sharpie is a great tool….

  • Hi Rena, I’m featuring this project on Impatiently Crafted Sundays this weekend. Thank you for your submission! stop by again and participate, love your work/projects.

  • Jeanette says:

    Great job on the tutorial!

  • inez says:

    New to this whole stamping thing, but love it! !! Your tutorial was awesome! !! Very clear and easy to follow. Few questions-how often do you need to live your stamps… is there a sign I should watch for? How do you lube stamps?

  • Margo says:

    This was a very helpful and informative tutorial. The tip about a regular hardware store hammer was most appreciated.


  • Caron says:

    Does anyone have any tips for stamping on narrow pieces of metal (copper), specifically a cross? I always have the problem of the metal curving as I stamp the word. I would LOVE help on this if anyone has any tips that help. Thanks!!!

  • Katie says:

    I have been playing with stamping on serving spoons as gifts- any advice on getting good results when stamping on a curved surface? My problem is having the spoon want to rock back and forth while I am placing my stamp and my spacing/alignment not being as uniform as I’d like as a result of the movement. I don’t want them to be perfectly uniform, i think that would make is lose some charm, but I do want it to be better than it currently is… thoughts?

  • Ilene struck says:

    I recently talked to someone who said in order to get their letters black they used a wax based substance but would not say what it was said they think its better then a sharpie. Have any ideas on what it is????

  • Thanks so much for sharing. I hopped over from Homemaker on a Dime. I’ve been collecting silverware to start yet another hobby!!!

  • Thanks for the great info! I’ve stamped washers – hammered and hammered, trying to get it to imprint enough to see well. Now I know to color them! All your tips are very helpful. πŸ™‚
    His blessings,

  • heidi says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial. I’ve wanted to try out some stamping, and this is going to be so helpful.

  • Jackie Davidson says:

    Rena, can we use a sharpie to darken stampings on sterling silver, too? It sounds like above, you say “on other types of metal” meaning NOT on sterling or copper? I would like to darken without using harsh chemicals to oxidize. I have tried the “egg” method to oxidize and that works nicely, but for stamping, it would be so much easier and quicker to use the sharpie. I am currently buying new tools for your upcoming class, and I am also purchasing tools for stamping my sterling silver. Thanks!

  • Hi Jackie, I’ve used Sharpies to darken sterling silver, copper, and various hardware metals. It’s worked wonderfully, and is very durable. And I’m with you – I prefer to use as few chemicals as possible.

    Here you can see Sharpie ink on copper stamping:
    Adjustable Class Ring Tutorial.

  • Diane says:

    That is so cool. I remember wearing stamped jewelry when I was a teenager. Great tutorial. Visiting from The Gathering Spot πŸ™‚

  • Michele says:

    Super neat project. Thanks so much for the detailed tutorial:)

  • Thanks for the tips! I bought some tools a while back when they were on clearance but could never quite figure it out, I think it’s because I wasn’t using a block..

  • You always have great tutorials. I imagine that children could get involved by picking out the designs or helping with the hammer. They might turn out a little more child-like but fun just the same. Thanks for sharing on Artsy Play Wednesday.

  • Carol says:

    Thanks for the tips. I have the metal stamps and the metal pieces, but I have never tried before. Today’s the day!

  • Nicole says:

    This looks so cool! Smart idea to label them first! I’ve never done any jewelry making, but I can see that being a problem for me πŸ™‚ Thanks

  • Candice says:

    Great tutorial!
    I have looked and read plenty tutorials on the subject, but I just love how you added special tips. Like marking the stamp itself and also using tape for guide.
    I bought my stamps today, I thought I had washers laying around the house but I couldn’t find them..I found in my jewelry stash some flat blanks…. They were too thin that they tend to bend when I hammered. I will try again tomorrow after a trip to Lowe’s. I will surely keep your tips in mind. Thanks.

  • Marilyn says:

    I LOVE the tip to use a sharpie and write the letter on you stamp….GENIUS!

  • Great tutorial. Thank you for sharing it with us at TTF!

  • Great tutorial! I’ve always wanted to this. I’ve got to get myself some of these metal stamps so I can try it.

  • natashalh says:

    Wow – thanks for the tips! I’ve been working with metal for a while but I’m just starting stamping it and I’ve been having some problems. This is really helpful!

  • Ruth says:

    These are great tips! I love stamped jewelry – I can’t wait to try out some of these!

  • These are great tips! Thank you for sharing with Small Fine Print! I’ve pinned this to my tips and tricks board on pinterest for future reference. I have a stamp set that is collecting dust, i’ve never braved trying it!


  • Great tutorial!

  • Susan says:

    How beautiful. I’ve admired metal stamped jewelry and now I know how to try making my own. Thanks for sharing at Inspire Us Thursday.

  • BeColorful says:

    Just when I think I can’t take on another hobby you tempt me. πŸ˜€ This looks so fun and you make it look easy. Thanks for sharing.

  • I enjoy your tutorials and always come away wanting to do your latest project!

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