Although store-bought stamps are sometimes used in letterboxes, most boxers much prefer to find hand-carved stamps. Wouldn't you rather find something unique out along the trail? I especially like stamps that are somehow related to the location where you find them.
Now that I have my design, I need to transfer the image onto some carving block. Usually I pencil in the image, which is tedious, then rub the image onto the rubber so that the pencil leaves traces. Today I made a photocopy using an old copy machine, then used nail polish remover and rubbed the image onto the carving block.
Notice everything is a mirror image. This technique will not work with modern inkjet copiers, although some people have had luck transferring inkjet printouts using oil of wintergreen instead of nail polish remover.
Let the carving begin! I use some micro gouges to slowly remove rubber in all the places that aren't covered in black. Pretty simple. The Staedler 1v gouge is the most commonly used tool by letterboxers, but I prefer to use micro woodcarvers.
After carving, I test out the image and leave an impression in my planter logbook. The stamps are rarely as good as I hope, as is the case here, but such is folk art. Nobody expects to find a stamp carved by a fine artist.
For more information about stamp carving, see Carving 101. A popular place for letterboxers to purchase carving supplies is Stampeaz, run by a fellow letterboxer.