anvilfire! Touchmark Registry
International Registry of Blacksmith Touchmarks   
What are touchmarks?

Blacksmith's touchmarks and silver/gold smiths hallmarks are made with a hardened steel punch. On soft metals including soft grades of steel they are stamped into the metal cold. The piece to be marked is supported on a firm surface or anvil, the punch aligned and then struck with a hammer to impress the mark into the piece.

Black smiths and knife makers also stamp hot metal. The piece to be marked is heated to a red heat and the punch held in place with tongs and then struck with a hammer. This can make a very deep mark in steel. Part that will later be hardened too hard to punch cold are done hot.

Making the touchmark punches is a specialty that can be done by hand or machine. Today factory made touchmarks are machined using computer controlled milling machines. In the past they were carefully carved by hand. In both cases the steel is made very hard after being cut.

The same type of punches are also used for inspector's marks on many things that need a permanent record of inspection. Critical machined parts such a gun parts or safety equipment may have several inspectors marks stamped into them. Most of these are modified letter punches, the letter in a circle, square or triangle.

Copyright © 1999
Jock Dempsey
anvilfire logo (c) 1998 by Patrick Dempsey
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