How To Use
Letter Stamps For Leather

By Bob Sherman

letter stamping exampleOne of the most popular types of stamps are alphabet and number stamp sets used for personalizing leather projects. These are commonly used for names, initials, troop and pack numbers, and so forth.

These stamps are designed for ease of use and when used properly will provide straight, properly spaced text. If used incorrectly the results are usually less pleasing.

Letter and numeral stamps are sized by the height. So a 3/4 inch letter is 3/4 inch tall. The width is determined by the correct spacing and the letter so widths are generally not provided in product descriptions. Several type faces are available, so choose one that suits your design best. For this demonstration I used a standard 3/4 inch leather typeface.

Each set will have individual stamps with an interchangeable handle included. Smaller sets sometimes include numbers as well, however on most sets numbers need to be purchased separately. The full selection of letter and number stamp sets may be found here.

Stamping sets are made of plated metal and with care will last a lifetime.

  1. Never hit stamps with a metal mallet or hammer. This will chip the plating and make them rust easier. Use of a wood, rawhide, or polymer mallet is essential to preserve your stamps.
  2. Never use stamps on anything but leather.
  3. Never put stamps away wet.
  4. Always store stamps in a dry area.
  5. Avoid dropping stamps whenever possible.

IMPORTANT! - Individual replacement letters are not available for most letter / number styles so don't lose any.

Basic Stamping Instructions
It is much easier to show the process than to write about it so please read through the following before proceeding.

letter stamp Direction
In order to stamp writing correctly it is necessary to have all of your letters aligned properly. Every letter and number stamp has an alignment mark on the top or side of the tool.

The letter or number will match the stamp and be positioned on the side that is the bottom of the letter. In this example our B stamp has a small B on top. Note that on smaller stamp sets this mark will usually be on the edge of the stamp.

This is particularly important for letters like Q which will look odd if not aligned correctly, but if you develop the habit of always positioning the marked edge to your base line then your letters will always face the correct direction.

Begin Stamping
Once your leather is properly cased, align your first letter and stamp the impression. It may take repeated blows with the mallet to get a good impression, just make sure the tool does not shift between blows.

Letter and number stamps are designed to be self spacing. This means that if the stamps touch at the edge, you will have perfect spacing.

Whenever possible, leave the previous letter in its impression and align the next stamp touching it as shown.

If you need to repeat a letter (such as BB), mark where the stamp ends before moving it.

Repeat Until Done
Continue aligning and stamping until your writing is complete.


Before Stamping, layout and measure the writing to make sure it will fit the desired area.

Centering the writing looks best in most cases.

A straighter line may be obtained by marking the baseline of the stamps before beginning.

Using a Background tool such as A98 to matt down around each letter adds depth.

Using a Background tool such as A98 to matt down inside the letters gives an inverted carving look.

There are special tools called letter bevelers that simplify matting the outside edge of standard letter sets If you do this a lot, consider tools Z780, Z781, Z782.

If you have leather carving skills, consider cutting the outline with a swivel knife then using a beveling tool for even more depth.

Letter sets are simple to use once the proper technique is learned.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is accurate to the best of my knowledge and common leather working practices as of the time of this writing. This article was originally published to the internet in June 2009 and has been modified and republished in April 2012. The author and the publisher accept no liability for the use or misuse of any of the information presented in this article. This article is presented for informational purposes and is used at your own risk.

Author: Bob Sherman

Publisher: Bobby's Craft Boutique Inc.

This article is provided free of charge for use.

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