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Picture of Cut a Royal Seal
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If you ever need to send a letter, adding a wax seal is the undoubtedly the best way to show class. Cutting a seal is a simple but laborious task, and the finished product is very rewarding. A seal made of the proper material will last generations.
 
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Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials
Tools:
-metal lathe(optional, highly recommended)
-Dremel
-precision Dremel bits (small bits with coarse teeth)
-rat tail metal file
-vise
-400 grit sandpaper
-600 grit sandpaper
-jeweler's rouge(Flitz)
-printer
-Craftsman Bench Buffer(optional, makes things easier)

Materials:
-3" to 6" round aluminum stock, 1" diameter
-one sheet of paper
-glue(stick, Elmer's, whatever)

Step 2: Design

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JP Seal.jpg
I used Powerpoint to design my seal. Simply draw a circle, draw your design with the various shapes, and group everything together. Then resize everything to a 1" diameter and REMEMBER TO FLIP IT horizontally or vertically. Print and cut out a copy.

Tips for designing:
-Be aware of your limitations. You'll probably want to stick to 2D designs for your first run.
-Lines should be far apart and easy to distinguish from one another. My simple JP symbol was more than challenging.

Step 3: Cut a Chunk

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The size of your chunk depends on how big you want your finished piece to be. I cut mine 2" longer to be safe.

Step 4: Machine a Blank

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The exact dimensions of the seal are not important. This is a custom job. Just remove the oxidation and turn a flat face. Then add a fillet to taste. You only need to do one side at this time.

Step 5: Apply Design

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Center your design on the face and glue it in place. Be sure it's dry before proceeding!

Step 6: Secure the Piece

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Use a towel to avoid scratching. You'll want the face to be perfectly flush with the surface of the vise. Confirm with a straightedge.
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Kyrc004 years ago
As much as I appreciate the tutorial, somehow all the steps seem completely meaningless, minus doing the finish. Take a diamond wheel point dremel bit, like 5/64", and simply etch the design into the piece of metal before finishing it up. All it takes is a steady hand. I did a topography map on the back of my iPhone and people ask where I got the custom case. ;)

Not to say that I don't appreciate your efforts here, but for such a simple, I think the steps are far too over-complicated, turning a two-step process into eleven.


~Just Friendly Advice
zappymax Kyrc003 years ago
and also instead of steel, you could perfectly use a bronze rod, much easier to etch any design. no problem with a seal on wax.
JamesRPatrick (author)  Kyrc004 years ago
Thanks for the Just Friendly Advice.
corradini3 years ago
Quite a few thoughts/suggestions: (and, nice work, btw!)

1) Missing from your tool list is the Dremel attachment where you can set the depth. (But - 'spect for you using JB Weld, which is as essential as duct tape and WD-40 for any DIY'er!)

2) You spent (imho) disproportionate attention on polishing the opposite end (don't get me wrong -- it's a beauty!) - but the functional end is still fairly rough. Kind of a backwards priority. No insult - I do that ALL the time: spend way too much time/attention on the parts that don't matter as much - must be my ADD. ;-)

3) You didn't mention which Dremel bit(s) to use, other than 'coarse teeth'. I'd suggest something else (and I've been working on precision groove grinding for some time). You do NOT want to use diamond bits - they'll clog (aluminum is 'gummy'). I'd go with the HSS (high-speed steel), and almost certainly a ball-end (like their #107) -- it won't wander like a straight or point bit, especially if you use the SIDE rather than the end, and it's easier for the wax to release cleanly from a rounded channel.

4) You don't need a lathe or a buffer/grinder. The aluminum rod (I'd recommend getting 6061 aluminum, which is about the most common) should have square ends to begin with. (Try metalsupermarkets.com or one of their stores, or onlinemetals.com or mcmaster.com - or ANY metals supplier in your local area - they'll probably have cutoffs ('offcuts') of 1" dia 6061 and might even just give you what you need from their scrap bin - just ask nice and look poor.)

If you need to face a cut end, just use a flat fine-cut file (rub it with paraffin first to keep it from gumming up, and use a "file card" or just a wire 'toothbrush' (any hardware store) to keep it clean. I'm not sure why to bother with all the lathe work, OR use all that Al - when you're done engraving, just cut off an inch w/ a hacksaw (or better yet, a tablesaw - yes, you can cut Al w/ a standard carbide circular saw blade, and it'll be nice and square - just clamp it *securely* and use your miter guide (and eye protection!)). Then epoxy it onto a 3-4" long 1" dia walnut dowel, sand the wood to 400 grit or so (too fine a grit does NOT improve the finish of open-grain woods like walnut or oak!) and ease the edge on the other end a little with sandpaper. Then finish with something like MinWax wipe-on semi-gloss poly -- or just linseed or tung oil (let dry WELL between coats!) or even vegetable oil.

0000 steel wool and/or wet-dry automotive sandpaper (any car parts store) will give you an unreal mirror finish. If you really want to go to town, use toothpaste (moistened) and a cloth - seriously. You could polish the Hubble mirror with that.

5) The acid-etch suggestion is well-intentioned I'm sure, but a Bad Idea -- trust me on this one. (The details involved in masking, templating, etching, and a number of other issues - well, let me put it this way: your effort:results ratio will be VERY high, unless you REALLY know what you're doing, in which case you wouldn't be reading this. >;-)
sypher4 years ago
Awesome...
Would chemical etching yield better resuts?
thepelton4 years ago
Incidentally, I have been working on a roller seal instructable, but it takes a long time because I have to use the library computer, and can only get it for an hour a day.
It's done, now. I hope you have seen it.
JamesRPatrick (author)  thepelton4 years ago
Very good! Keep it up!
thepelton4 years ago
Incidentally, remember to wear a mask while you are machining aluminum. It is slightly toxic, and it's better to not have to worry about it making you sick.
thepelton4 years ago
I have been carving wooden seals out of walnut. It is hard enough to stand up to pressing into wax, clay or dough, but not so hard it is difficult to carve, like yellowheart.
JamesRPatrick (author)  thepelton4 years ago
Interesting, will you post a picture?
This roller seal was made out of Padauk, a bright red wood from the Andaman Islands that is about the same density as Walnut. The whole piece is about three inches(76.2mm) across, and about an inch and a half thick(38.1mm). It makes a figure that is about ten inches long in a soft material like sculpey or dough.
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Ten inches, incidentally, is about 254mm. The whole idea was copied from roller seals used by the Mesopotamians about 3 thousand years ago. The picture repeats itself if you roll it far enough.
JamesRPatrick (author)  thepelton4 years ago
Wow that looks really nice! I was considering adding one like that to the side of mine. How long did it take to make?
It took me a couple of hours to design and carve. The best wood I found was walnut (juglans cinerea). It is not too soft to deform when pressed into sculpey, and not so hard it's difficult to carve, like yellowheart.
Dr. Pepper4 years ago
Great job!
rush_elixir4 years ago
You can also use rubber to make a seal, like the use in the rubber stamps, much easier to carved and will also last longer. already tried it, just need to make and instructables for this... very busy this holidays
JamesRPatrick (author)  rush_elixir4 years ago
Rubber will last longer than aluminum?
I've found that bolts work just as well, and is a lot easier to find. I hope this helps!
JamesRPatrick (author)  uberrobodude4 years ago
Stainless?
msoft44 years ago
Pretty cool. I've always wanted to do this. Should I buy a certain wax or will just any candle suffice?

Now I can (finally) alert the queen of the unjust attitude of her cousin, Leopold, and the oncoming...
JamesRPatrick (author)  msoft44 years ago
Regular candle wax works, but it will break in the mail. They make wax for sealing that's really flexible and looks nicer(craft stores).
sk24 years ago
Nice job. Next time remeber to wear protection glasses. A mask and gloves are also a good idea. Take care your eyes and your hands when you work with a Dremel !
roland985 sk24 years ago
Yeah, I have seen bits flying off em for tens of meters, not a nice thing should one hit your eye...
JamesRPatrick (author)  roland9854 years ago
Thanks for the advice.
There is no substitute for safety...
hruodger4 years ago
If you use a diamond bit at the final phase of the engraving, the finish on the engraved surface is smother. It´s like polishing the engrave. Also if you use diamond grease (5um or 2um) to polish the surface, you'll get a "mirror finish". Good Job!!!
JamesRPatrick (author)  hruodger4 years ago
Thanks for the help. My bit collection is getting a little thin.
tomtom43884 years ago
I first thought this was the logo of zenmagnets.com, your tool looks almost the same, but your stamp would be mirrored :)
JamesRPatrick (author)  tomtom43884 years ago
It's supposed to be a JP.
Awesome job, it really comes out as to what it's meant to be.
sszarck4 years ago
i recently made one of these out of some sculpey. While the actual seal doesn't look as good as yours i think the wax seals turn out all right. since it is not made out of metal i need to use oil to keep the wax from sticking.
-T
I was making a signet ring for a school project, and I finished it last night, I have never seen your instructable, but I also used a Dremel, and it came out pretty well, and I think it looks cleaner than yours when you use it. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of this.
JamesRPatrick (author)  bobwantzanapple4 years ago
You should take a picture of it so we can all see it.
I tried on the last post, I have no pictures of the wax
Signet Ring 1.JPG
JamesRPatrick (author)  bobwantzanapple4 years ago
Sweet! Have you considered writing up an instructable on it?
I was going to, but I don't want to steal your thunder.
JamesRPatrick (author)  bobwantzanapple4 years ago
By all means, go for it. It's not the same projects and lots of people would benefit from it.
Did you look through all of my comments after I made one on your instructable, and then call be a troll on the 9v thing, or was that a separate incident?
JamesRPatrick (author)  bobwantzanapple4 years ago
Must have been a separate thing.
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