Making a Hanko


Last week I started to carve my own hanko. My Sensei found me a stone. Don’t know what kind.

But one thing I can tell you is that it is very soft. You can smooth it down with sandpaper. Which is how I flattened it out to prep the surface. First with rough sandpaper. Then with really fine stuff.


From there, I had to find the right style of character. My Shodo name issho-un Sho-Un. I could try and get both onto the stone, but frankly it’s a lot to expect on my first go so I just went with the first character, Sho. I checked out a book with the right style for these things.

I decided on the one you see below.

But since this is a stamp, you have to carve the reverse.

And then transfer it onto the stone that I flattened earlier. Thing is, it’s hard to mark these things, so you paint em red with the Sensei’s correction ink and then draw in pencil.


From here I tried to cut around the kanji, the red area. Almost immediately, I cut across the edge.


Fortunately, you can just sand it away and start all over again.


Which I did.


Finally, I mangled my way through to a finished product. When I say finished, I don’t mean polished by any means. I only mean to say I stopped carving.Below is just partway through.


You can see the left side pretty well. The right is a disaster.


Just in case I might have applied the ink badly (hey I can hope right?), I tried it again a couple more times.


Long story short, there was no problem with the ink. Still, it was a lot of fun, and a great experience.


13 thoughts on “Making a Hanko

    • I have just enough Irish pride to be mock offended by the spelling but yes, Sean. Not a secret, I wrote it in the About page. Probably need to make that more clear. Honestly, I just couldn’t get the URL I wanted so…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, sorry bout that. I kind of drift through posts on WordPress so I completely missed that. Cool approximation of your name though!
        And out of curiosity, if Sean is the Irish spelling, where does Shawn come from?


      • Ah, my sho name. My last name begins with ボー so I looked for a kanji to abbreviate that. One of 某’s readings is それがし which can mean basically anonymous so I thought it would be kind of fun to go with that kanji. 風 is the part of my name passed down from my teacher’s teacher and his teacher and so on. So my teacher is 竹風 etc. and 書 (sorry can’t write the 草書体 in text) is just the regular suffix indicating that I’m writing an “original” (though based off of a mihon) not a 臨書.
        I suppose the reading of my name is ぼうふう which actually has kind of an ominous sound to it to me ー 暴風.
        Sorry, went on kind of a rant there XD

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, I see!
        Yeah, it’s the 草書体 version of 書. To be honest, I struggle with my signature still so I tend to favor that version because it’s easier for me to write reliably. As you know, the signature can make or break a work.


  1. So cool! I’d like to do this! I once had hanko for the normal reasons one has them in Japan. Actually my first one was all katakana for my maiden name. If I could make one for my “bonsai” persona (my a.k.a. the name I use for my foreclosing book) that would be awesome. You have inspired me. Maybe I can order one since I’m not that talented!


    • Thanks! I have my official one too. And one to sign for parcel deliveries, etc. This one was all hobby.

      I’m sure you can order online. If not, I think that theobstinatenail hand makes them.


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