Rubber stamps have truly been around for a very long time, but they are a technology which is still hanging in there with no signs of slowing down. There are many ways to make stamps, anything from doing linoleum cutting, wood cutting, even cutting raw potatoes, but in this instructable we're going to focus on making a rubber stamp with the help of a laser cutter, and turning a handle from wood.
- laser cutter rubber
- contact adhesive
- inking pad
- laser cutter
- sander or sand paper
While I understand that everyone doesn't have access to laser cutters or other workshop machinery don't let that stop you. There are many ways to achieve similar results, and if you have the patience to cut your stamp by hand do look into linoleum printing and use that method instead.
Step 1: Design Stamp
Before you begin you should have an idea of what stamp you want to create. Design that stamp to scale in whichever graphic design software you see fit. Remember though, when you're done, to mirror your result otherwise your resulting imprints will also be mirrored.
As all laser cutters differ from each other I will not go into how to set up and actually cut out your stamp on the laser cutter you may have access to (TechShop is a great place if you don't have one of your own). However, the idea is to etch away about 2/3s of the thickness of the rubber. If your laser cutter has a setting for making stamps make sure you enable it. It allows the stamp to be cut with a small taper, which means that it will stand up to stamping a bit better, and smaller detail won't be obliterated by the burning laser.
Step 2: Cut/etch Stamp
Now it's time to put your rubber into the laser cutter. Remember to get a proper rubber made for laser cutters though as there are plenty of rubbers on the market, and quite a few are not meant to be burnt and can even be corrosive to the laser cutter and dangerous for you.
If you're not fond of the laser cutting method get a piece of linoleum or wood and carve your stamp out from that. It will require a bit more work, but with a steady hand you can still get very good results.
After you've etched the rubber to a good depth and cut it out you still need to clean the stamp from all the dust left by the laser cutter. Use either compressed air or run the stamp under water while brushing gently with a soft brush to get everything loose.
Step 3: Turning the Handle
Of course, no stamp is complete without a handle. You can choose to affix your rubber stamp to anything, but making your own handle will no doubt give you the nicest result!
Take a piece of wood which you find nice enough to turn into a handle and fix it to your lathe. I'm not a wood turner so I will not offer any techniques on how to make your handle appear from the piece of wood, other than just remove enough material until you're done. A quick standing and you should be done.
Remove what material you can't in the lathe with a saw and a sander until you reach the correct dimensions of your stamp.
Step 4: Finishing the Handle
Once out of the lathe you may want to finish the handle. However, as it's hard to cover something with varnish and hold it at the same time it's wise to glue a small holder to the underside of the handle. Only use a tiny drop of superglue though, as otherwise you won't be able to easily break of the holder once the varnish is dry.
Using a high gloss PU varnish coat the handle with a thin coat. Once it's dry sand lightly with a fine grit sandpaper and give the handle another coat of varnish. This will give the best result with the smoothest and highest gloss.
Break off the holder once the final coat is dry and if need be clean off the glued surface with a knife or sand paper to get it smooth again.
Step 5: Glue the Rubber
Before you can start using your stamp you need to bring the rubber together with the handle. Rubber is a hard material to glue, especially because it's so elastic and pliable. Using a contact adhesive is a great way to glue rubbers to hard surfaces, and it's used in all sorts of similar applications, such as shoe repair.
Apply a thin coat of contact adhesive to both the rubber and the handle surfaces and wait for them to dry to the point of only being a bit tacky. Once at that point put them together and press down hard. Make sure you get the alignment correct at once as contact adhesives bites immediately and gives you no margin for adjustment.