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Familiarize Yourself with Some Tools and Techniques Used by Silversmiths…

Silversmithing techniques,silversmithing ancient techniques,manual of techniques & tools

Like any other tradesman, silversmiths also utilize a variety of tools and techniques to craft beautiful articles of silver. Knowing every single one of them would be necessary only for someone who is planning to enter the trade. But for you, as a collector of antiques, a few terms might come in useful.

(1) Our banking system has originated because of SILVERSMITHS who fashioned the first coins to be used by the general public. They are responsible for crafting silver artifacts and even flatware (flat tableware and silverware).

(2) Serving dishes (hollowware) and eating utensils (flatware) are generally fashioned from STERLING SILVER. This is an alloy of 92.5% of fine silver and 7.5% of copper. Pure silver is too soft for these large functional items, and therefore stronger Sterling silver is utilized in its place. As a matter of fact, this proportion in Sterling silver has been decided by U.S. law.

(3) FIRESCALE is a purple stain that is produced on Sterling silver when soldering is attempted at high temperatures. Despite a silversmith doing his/her best to prevent this from occurring, he/she may not always be successful. Thus, you can see this stain on antiques from Colonial times, even after several polishes.

(4) When a sheet of metal is hammered to form the outline of an object, it is known as DIE FORMING. This process also comes in useful to make duplicates.

(5) REPOUSSE helps in embossing a metal object from the inside or the back.

(6) While Die Forming does the rough hammering, PLANISHING provides the final smooth touches to the metallic surface. After all, this sheet is going to be used for crafting decorative and functional pieces. Silversmiths have to ensure that no dust is retained on the metal.

(7) Once a rough outline has been created on the metal sheet, the grooves have to be deepened slightly. This is known as ENGRAVING. There is hand engraving, and there is machine engraving.

(8) To provide the necessary gloss to the metal object after soldering, we have a long-spindled arbor with wire wheels. This is the SCRATCH BRUSH. The wheels move at slow speed with the aid of a motor.

(9) In contrast to the scratch brush is the POLISHING WHEEL. This is also a long-spindled arbor with wheels, but they move at high speed. This is also motorized. Based on the type of finish that is required, abrasive compounds are applied on the polishing wheels—rouge, matte, etc.

(10) And finally, we have the purest form of silversmithing, which is known as RAISING. It is a labor-intensive technique that results in hollowing out metals. It is possible to achieve this effect by flattening a sheet of metal over a cast-iron T-stake or head.


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