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Please note these instructions are a rough guide to get a novice started using these tools.
1. The first thing one needs to do is read up on what cartouches looked like when first applied and study any pictures you can find concerning how cartouches look at various times in the life of the weapon and the general position on the stock, where each maker placed their cartouche or stamp. If you do not have books on the weapon you are working with, go to Amazon.com and purchase a used book or books that covers your particular rifle. Another way is to go to your public library and check out the books you need, if they don’t have the item you need they can order one. This may take a few days, but the service is free.
2. Once you have the information covering your particular weapon, you need to practice. It is best to dig up most any old broken stock to practice on. I say this because, a stock has a curved surface which gives you a truer surface to test a die, rather than practice on a flat piece of wood. Of course that is up to you, you may not have stocks available to you and you will have to resort to a flat piece of wood. Something is better than nothing. However you you can sand a piece of wood with a curve to test stamp if desired.
3. Remember, originally stock stampings were not usually perfect and trying to make a perfect impression screams out as a fake or poor reproduction. The object is to restore a stock to original, not to fake a stock and pass off as an original. Since stocks are curved and the die is flat, most generally the stamp will have lighter and heavier marks due to the curvature of the stock and flatness of the die. Do not attempt to make a perfect looking impression. Remember, practice before attempting a stamp on the actual stock. Practice, practice, I can’t say enough about this.
4. In your practicing, lay out about 3 different sizes and weights of hammers or mallets.
5. Construct an area to work on that is solid and without much give. The ideal base to lay your stock on will be a heavy piece of wood, has a plastic, nylon, etc. that has a general curvature that matches your stock. This base/cradle will work on most all weapons, but needs to be a general cradle slightly curved like the stock, also smooth so not to leave unsightly marks. (Also lay a piece of cloth on this cradle), after much practice, place the stock in the cradle, take the stamp, with a proper size-weight mallet/hammer, hold stamp firmly and strike the stamp one time only. Never, ever attempt to strike the stamp more than once. Remember, die marks are not perfect when new, so if your mark is lighter on one side, is crooked, etc., that is okay.
6. Never try to place die on top of a previous mark and attempt to redo the stamp, this will not work.
7. Never attempt to freshen up an old mark or new mark, this will not work.
8. Each maker had their own cartouche or crossed cannons stamp and their own general area on the stock where the mark was placed.
9. An attempt on your part to do a perfectly straight, equally depth impression on all sides will result in an image that is unlikely to please.
10. Remember, practice is the one thing you can do for yourself and your customers. There is nothing difficult or technical about making a stamp mark. Practice assures one that his work will be well accepted. Also, keep the cartouche lightly oiled when not in use.
11. Be sure to place the stamp mark on your stock after you have finished the stock with the proper oiled finish, usually raw linseed oil. After marking your stock, lightly bone down the mark which smooths out the edges of the imprint (bone down means to take a smooth object, usually slightly rounded and lightly rub over the stamp mark, rub oil into the stamp mark as a last step. This step is entirely up to you. (Try this on your practice marks first).
12. This guide is just some of own personal ideas I have figured out over the years. Although, I make the stamps and test them continuously, I do not stamp for the public or for myself. Thanks and good luck!
Please keep this instruction sheet for my contact address or for any additional items you may wish to order and or to make payments in the future. My email Address is firstname.lastname@example.org We also make custom dies/stamps, example, (company logo’s, signatures, designs, etc.).