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Hot Stamping vs Cold Stamping Metal

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Hot Stamping vs Cold Stamping Metal

Pros and Cons of Hot Stamping vs. Cold Stamping

Questions about hot stamping vs.cold stamping largely come up in our conversations with knife makers looking for a custom knife stamp or stamping die. Our answer always begins with a question, “How do you make your knife?” When knife makers want to stamp their maker’s mark, their making process largely determines how they will stamp their masterpieces.  While we refuse to enter the debate on forging a knife vs. stock removal of a knife (we love both!), we do want to help all styles of knife makers achieve a beautiful touchmark on their final product.

The experts at Buckeye Engraving share some insights below with knife makers (as well as farriers, black smiths, and other metal crafts people) into hot stamping vs. cold stamping, so they can confidently select a touchmark process to suit their needs and get the impression results they desire.

Hot Stamping for Forging a Knife

hot forged knife blade glows red while hot stamping trouchmark happens illustrates hot stamping vs cold stamping metal

Forging a knife involves creating the blade shape, size, and thickness by shaping heated metal with a hammer and anvil. Generally speaking, forgers use the hot stamping method during the forging process. So anyone forging a knife likely will use the hot stamping method. Below, we cover some of the pros and cons, as well as how Buckeye Engraving touchmark stamps for forgers enable you to leave your desired mark.

HOT STAMPING METAL PROS

Hot stamping your knife or other forged products comes with many benefits. Because the metal is more malleable during the hot stamping process

1.     You can stamp a larger maker’s mark or logo than you can with cold stamping.

2.     Even bold designs can be larger than with cold stamping.

3.     Hand stamping and press stamping can produce crisp, clean marks.

Basically, hot stamping like the forging process itself relies on displacing metal to form and shape it. This point is important to note as the amount of force will play a part in the end result of the stamped image: the bigger the touchmark design, the more force you’ll need to displace more metal while making the impression. For this reason, some makers prefer to use a stamping die and press, to make a clean mark at their preferred depth. A proper press setup will help hold the stamp square and provide even pressure.

HOT STAMPING METAL CONS

Like all good things, though, hot stamping does have some drawbacks.  Specifically, hot stamping requires the metal to be, well, hot! As a result, gloves and other protective equipment must be used during the stamping process, and some metal workers feel cumbersome gloves, aprons, and tongs interfere with their ability to manipulate the stamp as carefully as they’d like.  Of course, with enough practice, makers easily overcome this awkwardness.

To help overcome these hot stamping drawbacks, Buckeye Engraving offers a couple of solutions.
  • First, we can make your stamp to be used in a press.  Knife makers especially like the flexibility our hydraulic stamp dies offer them. 
  • Second, we offer different shaft lengths to make manipulating the stamp at a safe distance more comfortable. For those who still wish to use a hammer to hot stamp their metal, you can choose our standard shank length of 3.2” or our extended shank of 5.5”. Either can be used with gloves, tongs, side holder, or locking pliers.
close up of Colony knife logo stamped using hot stamping method on forged knife blade
close up of custom Buckeye Engraving steel hand stamp for hot stamping knife on anvil with hammer

It’s worth repeating that hot stamping is largely limited to makers who are forging metal, as it pertains to the temperature of the metal when you stamp it. So if you’re not forging your knife or other metal product, you’re probably looking to learn more about cold stamping pre heat treat below.

Cold stamping for stock removal knife making

cold stamped knife shows makers mark

Stock removal knife making involves shaping the blade by stripping steel material away from a steel piece through the use of abrasives, saws, and belt grinders. Stock removal knife makers should use a cold stamping method, and they should do so PRE heat treat and only on non hardened metals.

COLD STAMPING METAL PROS

Cold stamping options are versatile, as you can cold stamp using a hammer or press, just as is the case with hot stamping. Cold stamping, though, comes with three important benefits to consider:

1.     Cold stamping allows for more precision. Not worrying about hot metal makes it easier to get close, line up, and handle the stamp or press during cold stamping. For many, this level of precision is everything.

2.   The final impression can have more darkness and depth thanks to processes that occur after stamping. Because metal is heat treated after the stamping process (Remember, never cold stamp hardened or heat treated metal!), the stamped impression receives added darkness and depth from that process. 

3. Cold stamping works for a larger variety of making processes. Unlike hot stamping that is limited to the forging process, cold stamping works for makers who craft with non-ferrous metals, annealed steel prior to heat treat, and non-hardened metals that will not be heat treated.  

Ultimately, cold or hot stamping will be determined by your making process and metal. And we cannot stress this enough: NEVER stamp hardened metal.

COLD STAMPING METAL CONS

The added precision is definitely a big positive for cold stamping, but again, there are limitations of cold stamping.

  • Limits users to smaller stamp sizes. Cold stamping still relies on displacing metal to leave a mark. In order to achieve this, the force of the stamp or stamping die needs to be more concentrated into a smaller size to work adequately.
  • Requires a sharp face logo or maker’s mark design for best results.  Usually, bold designs displace more metal than do sharp face ones. Thus, we typically only recommend cold stamping for sharp face logos and maker’s marks.

Get Your Touchmark Design Right for Hot Stamping or Cold Stamping 

The artists at Buckeye Engraving have extensive experience helping knife makers, farriers, blacksmiths, and forgers create or reconfigure their logo and maker’s mark artwork to work for the stamping method they need to use. For instance, if your project will benefit from cold stamping, we can help you transform your artwork from a bold to sharp face design, as well as scale it to a better size and level of complexity, to ensure a crisp, clean touchmark. Likewise, we’ll ensure your forge stamp dimensions and design set you up for stamping success.

We offer fast, free estimates for your custom touchmark stamp or die. Fill out our easy online free quote form today to get started.