Best type of wood for silversmith stump

Good morning,

What is the best type of wood (tree) for a silversmiths stump?


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Hi Gerry:

Typically? It tends to be whatever you can lay your hands on, in the
right size. Should be about waist high, or a little less, which tends
to be taller than the size most tree-trimmers chop trunks up into
unless you ask them ahead of time.

The Monterey Pine in my parking lot died last fall, so a couple of
chunks of its trunk ended up at school, and are doing quite nicely.
My original stump at home was a chunk of red oak, which is doing very
well, but isn’t so much fun to cut bowls out of. I also ended up with
a massive hunk of beech that seemed to season well, but I never got
much of a chance to work with it. I’ve had friends who’ve used
eucalyptus stumps, and have been surprisingly happy with them. (It’s
very hard, for all that it grows like a weed.)



I think the wood has to be soft enough to make dapping areas if you
want. And be Dry and de- barked. I think we used good semi -hard
wood stumps in Chicago where I did a lot of forging and Hammering. As
I recall the height is important. Sitting flat footed and having the
surface waist height worked best for me. Less back strain if you are
hammering all day as I was making production pieces for wholesale. I
was forging 5-7 hrs. some days. I just got a 2 and 1/2 high foot
piece of cedar for a stump… It smells wonderful.

A neighbor was chopping it for fire wood. I stopped and asked for a
large chunk. I’m trading a repair for the stump. I just have to get
it in the truck and into the Studio. (It is Heavy and bulky) I am
5"3" it is quite difficult for 1 to move. I will be glad to put my
stake holder on it, and a bench block. It will deaden the sound too.
It is a pleasure to have a good surface for Hammering.

Best wishes
Sincerly, Barbara Kennedy

I hate to confirm my ignorance but as a total neophyte, I must ask -
What is a silversmith stump and how is it used?

I hope one and all will forgive me, but there have been three posts
as of late that really made my day. So how do critiques and a silver
smith stump tie together? Here goes…

On June 29th Karen Christians responded to a fellow named Manuel
about a query concerning etching on silver with: “…If you search
the Orchid Archives, something I urge everyone to do for tips, cause
its pretty durn amazing, and there are quite a few posts on etching
silver…”, but then takes the time and effort to elaborate the
basics between two approaches to etching. On or about June 28, a
woman Joyce responded to Aviva about a query concerning polishing
quartz with a Dremel tool. She offered a “gentle encouragement” to
what she recognized as an “enthusiastic newcomer”. Today, Suzan asks
in effect “What is a silversmith stump?” My perception of all of
this is I believe that we are all capable of handling constructive
feed-back criticism of our efforts; the encouragement and knowledge
shared by all here is truly amazing; and a “What is it”… “How do I
do…” or “Why” are all questions that each of us have asked
ourselves at one point in their development. The sweet part is that
Karen can “urge”, Joyce can “gently encourage”, and Suzan feels
comfortable enough to ask “What is it?” We all share in the growth
of each other… hell, I thought a few years back that I had just
created this nifty thing for hanging pendants, only to discover
after buying Tim McCreights “The Complete Metal Smith” that my
discovery was called a jump-ring and people had been making them for
thousands of years… if only someone had told me! peace and thank
you all…

Basically, I’m a woodworker who does a lot of metalwork.

While silversmithing and in many other areas of work and life, I
can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been stumped.

While in Seoul Korea I wanted a wooden stump to do some light
forging work. Not being proficient in Korean I decided to start
asking questions on the army base I worked on. I finally got through
to the proper shop in the facilities maintenance department. Good
news! They were cutting down a sycamore tree due to some electrical
work. Normally they try to work around the trees since they’ve grown
to big and beautiful. Anyway, I was told to stop by their compound
gate after hours. sure enough, there it was. about four feet long and
eighteen inches in diameter. freshly cut.

I loaded it into my Honda, got it home to my apartment, and after a
couple weeks discovered that it would grow fungus if I set it up on
end. So. I removed bark, tried painting the ends with polyurethane,
then set it up on a couple of blocks. After a while I bought a
dehumidifier and kept the door closed. Over a year later I was
finally able to use it, but I think it took over two years before it
was finally cured.

Now it works great. I’ve cut it to the right height for my 6’1"
height. Its heavy enough that it won’t move. Thankfully the US
government paid to have it shipped back from Korea to Las Vegas for

Mike DeBurgh, GJG
Henderson, NV

Thankfully the US government paid to have it shipped back from
Korea to Las Vegas for me. 

Not that I begrudge my tax money, but if the government had asked
me, I’d have said you should acquire a native American stump after
you got home.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ