Drunken Dwarf

When to start signing your work

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This is something I've been pondering sort of abstractly, I'm not near ready to myself, but when during the learning of your craft do you invest time/money in a touchmark?

It's I'm sure different for those of us that were properly trained through an apprenticeship or similar, but for the average hobbyist whose hammering away in a shed? It's obviously not worth the complete novice putting their mark on the 50 J hooks they learn to point and taper with, but at what point do you consider yourself to be "producing work" worth signing?

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You could invest in a cheap engraver to initial things and date them if you like till you feel confident to purchase a touchmark. Also you could make a simple touchmark to sign your work. It never hurts to mark your work unless you are really trying to keep up some sort of standard.:rolleyes:

I'd have started marking my work Sooner, if that helps. 

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Average hobbyist here. I don’t have a touchmark yet. I have stamped my initials and the year it was made into a lot of pieces. The years fly by fast! I wanted to be able to reference when I made something.

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Perhaps when you start selling your work. Buyers do like to have the maker's touchmark when they buy an item. At times I have forgotten to touchmark a finished piece only to have the buyer return later to ask for it to be marked. My one regret is that I did not add a serial number to some of the more popular items.

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 A few years back when starting out, I put my mark on the back of my work. As things improved I started marking the front. Now it seems I look to place it more front and center. The problem I am now finding is, it seems I need  to order a smaller one for the work I am doing. I need to check with the guy out in Idaho if he can make me another one in 1/16 inch. The 1/8 inch is just to big at times.        Life is Good                Dave 

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EVERY THING..   EVERY THING..  EVERY THING.. 

I have early piece I had made 35 years ago before I started signing stuff..    30 year later the stuff is being put on the market as vintage or historical.. 

I know this because some of my current customers had bought some of my early works form an antique dealer and paid more than what it cost to make.. 

sign everything even things you think will never see the light of day.. the ability for someone 100 years from now to see what happened locally will be like mummies in Egypt.. 

I always want to know who made something when its a piece of history.. 

I use an in-house makers mark   and then my stamp of which I have a smaller stamp and a larger one for larger work.. 

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I suppose even the things you first make, it's useful to stamp something on them to identify date etc, so you can track development. I've always been told to stamp tools with the type of steel you use in case you need to reharden etc.

Maybe I should get just a set of letter stamps and start putting "DWARF 2019" on things until getting ready to actually design a "touchmark".

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Sign everything.  Every piece of furniture I build gets marked.  Every painting I've made is signed (and more recently, dated).  It's fascinating to look back 20 years later and see the evolution of your work.  Even things like a pair of tongs.  Make a mark.  You can always make a different mark later.  You can get a set of letter/number punches for $20 and that's fine place to start.

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What would be recommended for the best steel for a beginner with limited tooling to use to make said touch mark?

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I've been forging for a few years now and just ordered my first touchmarks.  I ordered a small one and a large one to cover all the work I'll be doing.  It's cheaper if you order them at the same time.  My touchmarks are made form O1 tool steel and heat treated correctly by the seller.  It is important to mark your work, but sadly many of my early things I made for around the house are not marked.  Though they'll never fall into the wrong hands, some day they will be out there when I'm long dead and gone.

I think it's important to wait to get a touchmark made until you really know what sort of things you enjoy making.  It also gives you time to figure out a great name for your forge or a symbol that is meaningful to you.  While researching the historic blacksmiths in my area and where their shops were, I found out my town used to be named Yorkshire back in the 1700's and early 1800's, hence Yorkshire Forge was selected to be be my forge name.  I put this on my touchmark along with my first initial and last name.  In the middle is an actual shape of my anvil I forge with.  I feel having an anvil on your touchmark shows it's modern work and it communicates everything you need to say in one symbol even if your name or forge name is not as clear.  They cost a lot of money to have made, so be sure you know what you want.

I did a lot of research before coming up with my touchmark.  I really feel strongly that you should have your name included in it because if you have say a cross as your symbol it really doesn't tell future generations much about who made it.  Even initials are a guess.  A name can be researched.  I picked up a pig sticker antique knife from a junk shop that had the blacksmith's name stamped in it.  I was able to track him down through research and find out where he lived and worked.  I kept that info with the knife so now there's some history behind it.  Without the name on it, I wouldn't have known anything about who made it but now there's this connection with the maker.5ad735c020ea9_DSCN5209(002).thumb.JPG.54bc2ea190a0be52b8d36efd9558ddcd.JPG

 

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MC Hammer. You make a really good point. I've been thinking about touchmarks from my own perspective in a way to say "I made this" on something I'm proud of producing. I've not really thought of the other people down the line who may come across my work and enjoy having a bit of history to it. To be honest it's because I never intended to do this commercially in any way and have much less interest in selling anything than just making pieces for myself. But some day, long after my lifeless body has been burnt on a fitting longboat, some else is going to come into possession of 200 misshapen S-Hooks and they might want to know who swore at the steel until it bent.

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On 3/20/2019 at 8:17 AM, Ben Hoover said:

What would be recommended for the best steel for a beginner with limited tooling to use to make said touch mark?

Practice and research.

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Garage, yard, rummage, etc. sale punches, chisels, etc. Practice with a Dremel  till you have the touchmark you like. Carve a master in a piece of steel then heat and drive the punch into it. Or, carve your touchmark directly into the punch. You'll want to preform the: cold chisel, punch, coil spring, O1, whatever you find for punch stock by grinding it to diameter and flat.  

If you plan on marking your work hot heat treating the touchmark punch isn't so important but if you want to mark it cold then the punch needs to be heat treated.  Hardened and tempered as for a cold chisel.

Don't be too surprised if you end up with a collection of not right touchmark punches. It takes practice and experimentation. What you like as a touchmark might not transfer well to your work, the more flat areas it has to imprint the more force it will take. 

Frosty The Lucky.

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I concur with Frosty's suggestion..   If you have good chisel work skills, making small chisels and then working the information into the annealed steel backwards works very well.. I did a drawing first then a stencil.. I did this a few times and once everything would come out right on the steel I set it then used the information I gained to create the raised letters.. 

I also wanted to mention there is a cold use one and a hot use.  I opted for the hot use because it makes a deeper impression..  But it can only be used when the item is hot.. 
 

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Getting the reversal right is the hard part for many people.  They even found a medieval coining die that got it "backwards", (at York IIRC), and a much bigger Oops! back when it was a lot harder to get good material and tools for die sinking.

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Is there a difference in the quality of the outcome between carving directly into the punch or carving into a master and then driving the punch into it? I get the impression that the latter wouldn't be as crisp, but certainly seems easier to do with a Dremel or something. Also, using that method, should the master be tool steel? And hardened?

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There is a great advantage to having a die struck for making the punches..  It means once it's made and hardened you will have the ability to make the same exact logo for as long as you live or until you break the logo die you made..  and if you make a few stamps at one time and keep one in reserve you will always have a way to make another one.. 

Done well the die will work very, very well.. The largest problem is keeping things in alignment when the hot metal is driven into the die.. 


Yes, tool steel and hardened for the die.. 

Chisels are much finer to use than a dremel.. We are talking 1/32" or so..  Well depending on what one wants..    

Stamp companies have been around for ever..  It's a very old profession and a specialty at that..  

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