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Aaron O'Bryan-Herriott




Location: Edmonds, Wa
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Aug, 2012 11:51 am    Post subject: Armourer's mark stamps         Reply with quote

Hello all,

Does anyone know how an armourer's mark stamp is actually made?

My assumptions are:
(i) that it would have to be hardened after having been made.
(ii) that it would probably need to be cut or carved rather than etched (as in acid) since the detail would need a decent degree of physical depth.
And that's about it! I could be way off and I am very happy to be corrected Happy

How do modern armourers go about making a stamp?

Cheers... and thanks in advance for any replies.


Aaron

BTW: I would have tried to post this to the "makers and manufacturers" forum, but wasn't allowed to post there.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Aug, 2012 11:56 am    Post subject: Re: Armourer's mark stamps         Reply with quote

Aaron O'Bryan-Herriott wrote:
BTW: I would have tried to post this to the "makers and manufacturers" forum, but wasn't allowed to post there.


Only people in the Industry Professionals usergroup can start topics in the Makers and Manufacturers Talk forum. That is their sales and business announcement forum.

Happy

ChadA

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Jeffrey Hildebrandt
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PostPosted: Fri 07 Sep, 2012 6:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron,

An armourer's mark needs to be hard enough to deform the steel or iron it is being driven into, and tough enough not to shatter under the significant force required to do so. Historically, such a stamp would likely have been stamped or chiselled while in a hot or annealed state, or carved with a burin in an annealed state. The stamp would have to be hardened and tempered before it could be tested, and then heated or annealed again if it required further work.

Modern armourers have the option of using die grinders and diamond bits to carve already hardened tool steel. As long as care is taken not to over-heat the stamp during work, the stamp can be tested repeatedly during manufacture, and will require no heat treating after shaping.

Etching would not likely yield clean enough results for an attractive stamp.

My current avatar is a mark I made using the modern method I described. It took far less time that I would have expected - not a situation an armourer often finds himself in!

I hope this helps!

-Jeffrey

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Aaron O'Bryan-Herriott




Location: Edmonds, Wa
Joined: 24 May 2006
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 23

PostPosted: Fri 07 Sep, 2012 11:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you very much Jeffrey!
I greatly appreciate the explanation.

I have been fooling around with my own small blacksmith's shop for several months now and although I am still gathering tools and equipment (which effort, I doubt will ever cease) and trying to teach myself when I'm not working or with the family, I have been making progress with it. Albeit slowly Happy
Armouring is one of my ultimate goals, but not in the sense of it being a sole focus. However, I would like to explore the marque/stamp for its own sake mostly because I am just interested in the process. So again, I really appreciate your detailed explanation.

As for your description, I don't wish to hold you too long, but I'd like to ask a few further questions if you don't mind...

Basically it seems that you're saying most folks will tend to use machining on already hardened stock. I assume this is because you can get the job done with much less effort and because you can get a hell of a lot more detail and sharpness this way...correct?

The original method obviously entails quite a bit more work Happy
Since I don't have access to machining equipment and would anyway prefer to explore the historical process, I think I will look to that first.
I would imagine that just making the chisels and punches for such fine work would be challenging, not to mention the labour-intensive process itself. But I'll give it a try. I think I'll start with punching the larger forms/negative spaces in the design and then move on to the chisels to clarify, sharpen and add depth. Make sense?
Would a burin not have too shallow an effect to be of much use? By this I mean that in my experience, burins tend to be used for engraving by hand, which I can see being used for surface texturing and such, but would wonder about being used for the gross forms in the design. Keep in mind that I have never *used* a burin myself, so this opinion is literally baseless.

Depending on the stock used, how effectively it was hardened/tempered and on the way it is employed, what kind of life-span would you expect for a typical, well-made stamp? Years of daily use?
I can imagine that redressing it would be required quite often depending on how clean a stamp one wants... which leads me to understanding why most stamps avoid a lot of fine detail in their designs!

Anyway, thank you again for your response. I had resigned myself to accepting that I would get no response to this post. You have brightened my day considerably.

Cheers and best of luck with your fantastic work.
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Jeffrey Hildebrandt
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PostPosted: Fri 07 Sep, 2012 10:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I could not say whether it is common practice to use stock removal on hardened tool steel for making an armourer's mark, but it is the technique that I used.

I think that your proposed procedure of working large voids with punches and chisels, before graduating to finer details should work well. I have used the same technique for other tools, like rivet forming tools, and tools for impressing decorative band-work, rosettes, and so on. I would advise you to regularly file the surface of your mark flat as work progresses, because punches and chisels will displace the steel rather than removing it, leaving ridges around the impact sites. You will have a better idea of how deep your voids actually are if you are aware of where your finished surface will be. As a note on void depth - keep in mind that the depth of the voids in an armourer's mark need only be a little deeper than the intended impression - I would say that 3/64 would be enough. Also consider the amount of surface that is to be forced into the armour to be marked - the greater the surface area, the more force will be required, and the more deformation to the armour surrounding the impression site.

As for the long-term performance of your punch, I doubt it will ever require reworking if you heat-treat it properly. An armourer of my acquaintance has been using the same mark daily for decades without noticeable wear.

What I have often wondered is how city / guild marks were stamped on completed armours. If the armour had already been heat-treated, stamping it would be next-to-impossible.

Perhaps you should post your progress when you begin work on your mark; I would be interested to see it.

-Jeffrey

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Aaron O'Bryan-Herriott




Location: Edmonds, Wa
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Sep, 2012 11:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks once again Jeffrey.

I was reading just yesterday that although heat-treating/hardening armour pieces may have been common practice by the 14th century, the effect would in many cases have been negligible because the stock used was so low in carbon. It wasn't apparently, until the end of the 14th century or early in the 15th that said content generally reached a high enough level that the hardening process resulted in much of a change in the metal's performance. ('Techniques of Medieval Armour Reproduction', Chapter 19). So perhaps the steel (such as it was) remained soft enough that it could be impressed after having been completed...

Speaking of carbon content, what type of steel do you generally use for your work?

I'll post my progress. In your opinion, should I do so here in the Historical Arms Talk forum?

Thanks again...

Aaron
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Jeffrey Hildebrandt
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Sep, 2012 9:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Certainly, steel quality varied in armour, but I am not as certain as some are that armourers did not know what quality of steel they were working. After all, 14th C. bladesmiths were not in the habit of accidentally manufacturing blades which could not be hardened. Metallurgical analysis suggests that even low-carbon bearing steels were heated and quenched, but the same structures could result in the steel unintentionally, from repeated heating and quenching during hot-working. You will have noticed, however, that Price believes armour must have been worked cold, because contemporary illustrations always depicted armourers holding a finished armour part in a bare hand, with a hammer raised menacingly far above their head, and that the open forge an arms length away was for controlled, overnight annealing...

I digress. I was actually curious about Nuremberg marks on 16th C. landsknecht armour, much of which is known to be heat-treated medium-carbon steel.

As for my own work, I use what my customers request, which is usually mild steel, for reasons of price. Medium-carbon steel is not only significantly more expensive, but hardening and tempering it is laborious. Still, I prefer to do it when it is appropriate for the piece, because it improves the function while keeping the weight accurate. Thanks for your interest.

As for where to post the progress on your armourers mark; I would put it in the off-topic forum, if I were you.

-Jeffrey

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