What is this stylus-like tool?

So, I found a mysterious tool at my mom’s house, and none of the people who frequent the house know what it is or where it came from. It’s about the shape and size of a largish pen. One end of it has a spring-loaded metal tip with a rounded end, while the other has a tapered flat plastic spatula-like blade. One can twist the plastic portion in and out, which compresses the spring on the metal tip (there are numbers on the shaft to indicate how far in it’s compressed). There’s a metal band in between the two main segments, which bears the words “Chartpak” and “Made in the USA”: Chartpak appears to be an art supply company, but I can find no reference to styli on their website.

Hopefully these pictures will work:
Full view
Close-up on taper of blade

Anyone have any idea what this is?

I’m having trouble seeing your images, it might be all the extra security on my machine. But it does sound like some kind of craft tool.

I’m pretty sure it’s this adjustable burnisher.

I have no idea what it’s used for. Description says something about “burnishing dry transfer type.”

I’m unable to see the images directly, but if I click the down-arrow, I can download them to look at.

Looks like one of these: http://www.misterart.com/architecture-drafting/drafting/tools-accessories/chartpak-adjustable-burnisher.html

Yup, it’s definitely that burnisher thing. Which is only a partial help, since nothing I’m finding online about burnishers seems to correspond with this thing, so I still have no idea what it’s supposed to do.

When you want to put lettering on some object, you can use so-called “dry transfer type.” This is a kind of decal which is attached to a semi-transparent carrier sheet and can be transferred to another object by applying pressure on the carrier sheet. This tool can be used to “burnish” the particular letter that you are transferring to the object. I’ve used dry transfer lettering to label the front panel on custom built electronic devices. I don’t remember having a special burnishing tool. If there was nothing better around, I used a ball point pen, preferably one that was out of ink.

Letraset - Dry Transfer Lettering

Transfer letters were de rigeur for book report covers when I was in elementary school (1980-1985). My parents had sheets of different fonts… you did have to check first that all the letters you needed weren’t used up!

If you did it carefully it looked pretty good. But oh the pain of an incomplete transfer!

The tool in action:

Does this video help? How to use a burnisher.

Rub-on letters?
What are they?

Now I feel old.


that would be: not old enough.

rub-on letters are a dry decal. they were used in the graphics arts industry in doing large type for print in photo offset.

OK, yeah, rub-on letters, and a specialized tool just for use with them, are definitely the sort of thing my dad would have used, which lends support to the hypothesis that this is something someone must have found at his house (and brought it to my mom’s house) after he died. Would one use just the metal tip for that, or the plastic blade-end as well?

the size of the type would the size of the tool.

also what is being applied to what surface. a decal letter to paper the plastic might be fine. a hard roller might be used for other substances and uses.

My wife uses something similar when she makes Birthday and Christmas cards.

Google “Letraset,” who was the biggest maker of what we never called “dry transfer letters.” :slight_smile:

Damn, I had no idea Letraset still existed. I used to use them back in the 60s.