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

    1. 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

      1. 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?


      2. 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

      3. 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!


    1. 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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