Letter Stamps

I was wondering if anyone had any experience using letter stamps. I am inlaying a chess board into a table top, and would like to label the rows and columns with the appropriate letters/numbers. I was thinking of using a letter stamp to stamp each of the letters, then filling the indent with some hard wax, sanding, then staining and varnishing over top. (it is important to me that the top is perfectly smooth) Will this work, or am I asking for trouble (note: I plan on using hardwood -- probably maple and mahogany).
I don't want to buy the letter stamps if this won't work.
John
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on 2/15/2005 10:01 AM julvr said the following:

I would question the ability to maintain a finished, perfectly smooth top using wax to fill in the indented letters/numbers. Aren't there some two-part epoxy compounds you could mix up and lay in there and then, after it's cured, sand it flush?

Whatever method you choose, why not do a test run by taking a small, flat-bladed screw driver and create a letter "L" in test stock and see how it works? THEN buy the lettering set if it works out.
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Unquestionably Confused wrote:

One thing I think is it will be difficult to get them precisely in line and square as they have a pretty small dimension. I'd think it necessary to use an alignment fence to get them where they need to be, but possible w/ care. I certainly would want to practice several times before I went at it w/ the final product.
I agree that an epoxy as a filler would probably be much more reliable.
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There's a spring loaded gizmo that holds letter stamps. Press down and it works like a trip hammer - stamping with consistent force. BUT - as noted earlier, alignment is not trivial with this thing.
You could get just the letter stamps and wack 'em with a hammer. Alignment is still an issue and getting consistent force is not easy.
BTW - despite the mahogany descriptor of "hardwood", it really isn't that hard. So if you use the trip hammer gizmo, the letter indentations will be deeper in the mahogany than in the maple.
Maybe rub on letters and a water based poly over it would be easier.
charlie b
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Thing is, different letters have different volumes of metal (wups, wood) that they'll displace - so an I will go deeper with the same force than a W will.

maybe a very light hit with the letter stamps, followed by hand carving? Dave Hinz
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Tue, Feb 15, 2005, 11:01am snipped-for-privacy@terayon-dot-com.no-spam.invalid (julvr) says: <snip> I don't want to buy the letter stamps if this won't work.
Oh, it'll work. Definitely work. I've not tried it, so just don't know how well. I'd not opt for the smallest letter stamp, I don't think detail would be great with them - but never can tell, I'd try to borrow a set and see how they turn out. OR, Harbor Freight has sets for around $5-6.
Personally, I don't see why you'd want to label the rows and columns. I'm not clear on that either. Do you want to label JUST the rows and columns? If so, you might want to consider a border row, with the letters & numbers there, maybe scrollsawed; possibly print on paper, and glue them on. Or, do you want to label each, and every, square. If I was going to do it, I think I might use calligraphy, on a border row.
JOAT Intellectual brilliance is no guarantee against being dead wrong. - David Fasold
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On 15 Feb 2005 11:01:04 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@terayon-dot-com.no-spam.invalid (julvr) wrote:

Rarely a good one.
I think your biggest problem will be getting the _depth_ of the stamps to be the same. These stamps are designed for use on metal and form a groove that's triangular in cross-section. Any variation in depth gives a variation in width. Unless the depth is accurately consistent, then I think this variation will look uneven and sloppy.
Try it on an offcut of the same timber and see how it looks. You'll be wanting offcuts anyway, as they're always handy to test out finishes upon them.
To align the stamps, an essential tool for use with these letter stamps is a length of broad steel L-angle. Clamp this down and use it as a "ruler" to align the stamp's edge. A fast tap with a very light hammer usually gives a better and more consistent impression than a heavy hammer or mallet.
As for the infill, then I'd second the epoxy suggestion. Fill this epoxy with a soft mineral filler (microballoons are best, but you could use chalk whiting or talc). This makes the cured epoxy softer to work and reduces brittle pull-out of thin lines. Sand or scrape it smooth, but wait at least twice as long as you expect curing to take place before attacking it - these are very thin lines !
Personally I'd carve the letters, rather than stamping them. Even beginner's carving would look better than an uneven stamp.
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Smert' spamionam

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You can't use wax and then varnish over it. Use epoxy resin which you can color. The varnish will work well over that. max

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I goofed up my post on this. you can only really stamp endgrain well. you may or may not get away with doing face grain depending on the wood. but it usually mashes. this problem killed me stamping my marking knives. really the only way is to carve it out or burn it in. you can get letter holders to hold the numbers/letters in place.
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On 15 Feb 2005 11:01:04 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@terayon-dot-com.no-spam.invalid (julvr) wrote:

they really only work well on endgrain.
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Instead of stamping, how about metal inlays. Don't put characters on each square, just label one end of each row at the border. Also, at the bottom of each column.
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I'd be scared that contraction/expansion of the metal would cause the finish (varnish) to crack or get wrecked. I think from the previous posts, I may forgo labeling the rows and columns. I've put together a model without the labels, and it looks decent without them (see www.virtualautomateddevice.com/XTable.jpg ).
Thanks for all the advice
John
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