Cut a Royal Seal




About: Currently pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering. contact: jamesrpatrick(at)

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

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

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

Step 2: Design

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

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

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

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

Step 6: Secure the Piece

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.

Step 7: Cut Your Design

Chuck a pointed bit into your Dremel, and set the depth to about 1/32". Then carefully make a pass along your design. Go slow. Once you finish one pass, lower the bit another 1/32" and go again. It'll take a while but the final product will be nicer. Continue until you have a depth of about 1/8". A thin, pointed file can be used to smooth edges.

Step 8: Polish

Chuck the rod back into your lathe and go over it with 400 and 600 grit sandpaper, followed by the jeweler's rouge. Polish the face too. That part needs to be the smoothest.

Step 9: Part

Turn a fillet in the chuck side and then use a parting tool (or in my case, a hacksaw) to cut off the raw end.

Step 10: More Sanding

My seal was left with a nub on it, so I used a palm sander to flatten the surface. A flat metal file would also work. I then polished it as I did with the other section.

Step 11: Finish!

That's about it. By now you should have a completed seal. To use it, drip a nickel-sized drop of molten wax onto a closed envelope, wait 5 seconds, and press your seal evenly onto it. Wait another five seconds, and your seal should lift free.

If you liked my instructable, please support my work and vote for my entry in the Dremel Contest, Craftsman Tools Contest, and Epilog Contest once judging starts. I would really appreciate your ratings and votes!



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    104 Discussions


    8 years ago on Step 11

    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

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 11

    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.