i love the look of stamped metal and about a month ago i bought two stamping sets at harbor freight.
at under $10 each, these are really industrial sets.
i bought a 3 X 3 bench block from beadalon (via amazon) and i was able to get by using the house hammer. one great tip that i found online was to fill in the stamped letters with black sharpie (then wipe off any that ends up on the surface). it's a fast way to get a great look.
since my stamping set is really one used by, like, electricians to mark their parts, they don't even have a notch to tell you how to hold them the correct way. i got another tip online: use nail polish to mark the correct orientation of the letters. i took it one step farther and then marked what the letters are.
this should make things easier next time around.