Introduction: Forge a Maker's Touch Mark
Leaving a permanent mark on the world is one of the biggest aspirations a human can have. Making a touch mark is easy!
In this tutorial I'll write and show how to make a maker's touch mark (that is, a punch to leave a unique image behind) that is suitable to put your personal logo on any work you make. Use it for leather, metals, stone, unfired pottery or wood to let people know you did it.
1. A logo design. Mine has personal significance. You could use your initials or whatever compact design you want.
2. A wheel stud or another hardened bolt, new or used.
3. Sanding or filing tools.
4. A strong heat source. I used my forge to temper my marks but you could use a torch or even a stove burner.
Step 1: A Good Tough Bolt
There are many places to find a good tough bolt. You can use any size you like as long as you can fit your logo on the end of it in the dimensions you prefer.
I used wheel studs because they were available and they are pretty tough. And they were dirt cheap.
You can use a forge and anvil to square up the bolt and to draw out its length a little. But you don't have to blacksmith this project at all. Instead you can use your files and sandpaper to remove material until you have the size you want.
Step 2: Square It Up
Or, if not square, make it whichever rough shape suits your logo design.
If you're removing metal with abrasives then you can make all kinds of shapes. If you're forging the shape (and you're as shabby a blacksmith as I am) then you are limited to square, rectangular or circular for your starting shape.
So, square it up and then make the reshaped face smooth and flat. This will be your area to draw your design.
Use a marker to draw on the steel and indicate the areas that you want to remove material. This isn't something I can describe because I don't know what shape you're making.
Mine is easy though. I used a center punch to indicate the corners of an equilateral triangle.
Step 3: Removing Metal
Don't be disheartened by how difficult it is to file and hand sand this small area. Invest in a very small set of precision files and remove only enough to make the impression in your work that will mark it as yours.
Secure your workpiece the best you can and then cut away the marker areas.
I removed material by drilling shallow holes in the center punch divots. Then I rounded out the corners and pointed one side on the belt sander. If you're using a sander, keep a little water nearby to cool your work and save your hands.
Step 4: Only 1/16th of an Inch.
Remember that when you use your mark you'll only be pushing it about 1/16th of an inch so don't worry about incising your logo deeply.
When you're happy with the cut then you are ready to anneal and harden your piece.
Step 5: Heat Fast, Slowly Cool, Then Heat Slowly, Then Cool Fast.
Heat up your maker's mark until it glows red hot.
Remove the heat and let it cool slowly to release inner stresses.
Give the sides of the piece a light sand to shine the metal. This will help you judge the temper color easily.
Heat the piece from the top to the tip, watching the colors migrate down the length.
I chose to make the punch tip dark straw colored and the striking end darkly blued.
Quench and move on to the next project.
Step 6: Here's the Result
I tried a few different heats and a few different strikes and settled in to heating to yellow hot and then striking lightly. Punching softer material will reduce undue stress on the maker's mark, of course.
Now every piece I make has my unique mark on it! Knowing that it will stay there forever makes it easier to part with my work.
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