How to Make Military Dog Tags

By Peggy Hazelwood ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Practice sheet metal
  • Bench block
  • Letter set
  • Hammer
  • Marker
  • Metal blanks shaped like dog tags
  • Liver of sulfur or other oxidizing solution or thin permanent marker
  • Super fine steel wool or pro-polish pads
  • Hole punch pliers or drill or screw-down hole punch
  • Jump ring or key ring
Make your own military dog tags.

Make military dog tags that are personalized and totally unique. Stamp your name or a favorite saying on the dog tags. Military dog tags strung on a necklace make a great gift when they are personalized for the recipient, and they also can be made into a key chain.

Take a piece of practice sheet metal and set it on the bench block. Place a letter stamp from the letter set on the sheet metal with the letter portion touching the metal where you want to make the first impression. Hit the flat end of the stamp once with the hammer. Look at the impression. If you like this impression, use the same stroke as this. Experiment to see if two strikes looks better.

Line up the stamps for proper spacing on the dog tag. Practice spacing by spelling a word on the practice sheet metal. The letters are not always centered on the stamp, so play with the letters in the words you want to spell to see how to space them.

Write down on a piece of paper what you want to stamp on the dog tags. Set the dog tag on the bench block and mark the middle of it with a marker. Find the middle of the word on one line and begin by stamping that letter then move to the left and then to the right to spell the word or words in that line. This is the best way to center a line of text while stamping.

If the dog tag starts to sink to the middle and flare up on the edges, take a rubber mallet or cover the dog tag with a towel and gently strike it with a hammer to flatten it again. Strike on the front of the dog tag so if the bench block has any nicks in it, those nicks will appear on the back of the dog tags and not on the front. Several strikes should make it flat again.

Make the letters on the dog tags stand out by oxidizing the individual letters. The simplest method is to use a permanent marker. Write over each letter with the tip of the marker, making sure to get ink in the grooves of each letter. Let the ink sit for a few minutes, then polish the dog tag with super-fine steel wool or a pro-polish pad. Scrub the surface with the ink to remove the ink, leaving some ink in the letter grooves.

Punch a hole in the dog tag by using one of these tools: drill, hole punch pliers or screw-down hole punch. Practice on the sheet metal to make a hole and then make a hole on the dog tags you've stamped. Add a jump ring to the hole, and the military dog tags are ready to wear on a necklace, or add a key ring and make a key chain.

About the Author

Peggy Hazelwood began editing engineering reports in 1987, then textbooks for major publishers and now writes articles online. She has written business articles for the "Boulder County Business Report" and has completed writing courses through EEI and Career Track. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in speech communication from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.