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I Forge Iron

How did you choose your touchmark?

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Just as the title says, how did you decide on what to use as your personal touchmark to 'sign' your work?

Tonight I complete the "Blacksmithing 101" class I enrolled in. I have acquired enough materials to fake my way through doing a little forging at home with my homemade propane forge and my RR track anvil. I still have a long way to go but I hope to start making some gifts for family and friends. I'd love to be able to mark them as things I made but I'm unsure what to use as my mark. My initials would work or my entire first name is only 4 letters and could probably be made into a reasonably sized mark.

How did you come up with your mark? (Pictures of your mark stamped on your work are welcome too!)

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For lack of anything special I just used a capitol J and F with the verticals over lapping from a letter punch set. Were I to make a "proper" touch mark I'd probably incise the mark into a piece of stock and use a piece of tool steel heated and drive it into the mark to make the touch mark punch.

Frosty The Lucky.

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I use the anglo-saxon rune for the letter G. Think a capital X with 4 additional strokes in the left and right angles of the X forming two adjacent diamonds to the left and right of the central crossing of the X.

Choose something distinctive but fairly simple. Your conjoined initials done with a letter stamp set would work until you come up with something else.

George M.

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Unless you are a very famous smith few people know at whose mark they are looking. This year at the Blade Show a Bladesmith from Wyoming pulled out a folder and asked me if I knew whose touch mark was on it. The mark is a hammer in a halo. Fortunately, I did know. It was Ryan Johnson from Chattanooga and a friend of mine. Ryan was there and I introduced them. That sure increased the value of the knife for this smith. Now think about how stuff travels. Ryan is in Chattanooga, the smith lives in Wyoming and he found the knife in a pawn shop in Arizona. Even many smiths don't know, especially if not in your area. Unfortunately there is no fully recognized registry. For these reasons I think using your name is important. My touch mark is "Wayne Coe" in two stamps. I made it while attending the local tech college using the CNC mill to make a graphite blank, then used that to cut the names with the EDM. Anyone in the world can go to Google and search for “Wayne Coe Blacksmith” and find me.

My favorite TM story is when an antique dealer in Rhode Island was trying to sell a piece to a prospective customer.
"This was made by Paul Revere, see his touch mark here?"
Three problems here. They did not use touch marks in 1760.
Paul Revere was a silversmith.
The person who witnessed this transaction was Peter Ross!

Like Frosty said, you can use letter stamps. You could even put the stamps together then tack weld them together for a permanent touch mark.

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