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Cutting up a 100 ounce silver bar

Hello all,

I’ve got a dilemma that has set me back in my work. A while back I
bought a 100 ounce bullion bar of silver, the one with the Engelhard
stamp on it. I foolishly thought that I would be able to fabricate
it. I bought some cut-off wheels from Rio Grande that didn’t work
(the mandrels would snap and bend before it would cut). So I tried
sawing with a jeweler’s saw blade which didn’t get very far, then
with a hacksaw which wouldn’t stay put and I was losing all the
shavings. I even tried to melt some off with a #2 tip (the largest I
had) which didn’t do anything but anneal the bar. Does anyone know a
surefire solution? Do I have to send it to a fabricator? I’ve
suddenly found myself overwhelmed and would really like to get back
to work asap.

Thanks, Carmen

a local machinist will have the cut off saw you need. It might cost
you 3 bucks to have the person cut you some reasonable sized chunks
that you can work with or he may have a slitting saw which can rip it
lengthwise giving you virtual sheets of about 12g. each.One tip, have
the person wipe the steel or iron containing particles from the
machine’s blade and table before your silver goes through it to
reduce contamination. r.e.rourke ( been in the same situation, and
that was my solution but there’s a machinist about 10 miles from my
house so it was easy to do…he was amused and since then he has
fabricated some interesting interpretations of molds, tools, and
stakes for me…)


There’s a couple of ways to go getting your bar into manageable
pieces, both of which you’ve tried, melting it and cutting it. You
just need to increase the size of your tools.

To melt it, you could use either a melting furnace or a large
Ox/Acetylene torch with a big rosebud tip to turn it into shot or
ingots. I’ve done both and a furnace is easier, but 100 oz bar won’t
fit intact into most furnaces like the larger 100oz electromelt so
you’d have to have access to a larger one.

I’ve also cut them up with a metal cutting bandsaw which probably
would be the easiest for you to manage. You might be able to pay a
machine shop to use theirs to chop your bar up, or maybe you know
someone with a reciprocal saw you can borrow, they’re like a power
hacksaw, just clamp the bar in a vise and go to town. You can buy
them pretty cheaply at places like Harbor Freight too. Cut it up
over a container of some sort and you won’t lose any silver.


I had a student come to me with a similar situation. We put a metal
cutting blade in the band saw and cut it up. Cleaned the saw first
and then swept up all the cuttings when done. Do you know or can you
find someone with a band saw for cutting metal?


Had you not cut into it already, you could have easily traded it for
shot from a metals dealer as he would sell your bar at a premium
over the cost of silver.

If I had it, I’d lay some newspaper on the floor under my vise and
use the hack saw again.

Hi red,

Long ago I would have tried using a hacksaw: get a hacksaw blade
with the biggest teeth possible, use wax for lubrication, hold the
bar in a solid vice and saw off slices about 1" thick. Arrange bits
of cardboard to direct the filings and lay newspaper around to catch
them. Then use a BIG sledge hammer and anvil to get the slices thin
enough for the rollers or shears. I also would have tried hammering a
hot set chisel (blacksmith’s tool) with my sledge hammer and chopping
off pieces.

If that sounds like consuming too much sweat and time, industrial
machine shops will be able to break up your bar one way or another
quickly and cheaply. Just be aware that they will contaminate the
filings with foreign metals, or embed foreign metals into your pieces
of silver, and take precautions to prevent that from happening.

Then again, you could simply trade your bar for granules at your
local pecious metals refinery!

Regards, Alastair

Hello Carmen;

I couldn’t resist this one. The following is for entertainment
purposes only, unless you’re bored and want to try it.

I once had a huge slug made from scrap silver, about 5-6 inches long
and two inches on each side. Put it in a gas forge and then formed it
red hot under a 75 pound Reiter air hammer. Way cool what you can do
with it that way.

Yes, you can forge it while it is red hot and it will move out quite
easily. If you don’t have a torch that will heat it, fire up your
burn out oven. No oven? A good blazing camp fire will work. Work at a
good red heat, but not orange hot or it can crumble or crack. You can
cut it with a sharp cold chisel and 3 pound sledge hammer over a
piece of heavy steel (put a sheet of copper between the silver and
the steel to keep from dulling your chisel when you cut through). Cut
it cold, or if you’re quick on your feet, cut it red hot. Just get
ready to jump back when the cut off part, still red hot, takes off
across the room. Between forging and cutting, you could eventually
get something that would go through a rolling mill, although you’d
have to grind away the surface a bit first, as the hot forging will
work in a good layer of fire scale.

But here’s the problem. It’s fine silver. It’s dead soft and won’t
ever harden appreciably. You’d have a heck of a time melting copper
to add to it to make sterling. I wouldn’t want to try it myself. So,
anything you make of it will stay too soft. You could draw a mile or
two of wire from it and knit a cool Art-sweater. You could enamel on
it, as long as the pieces were engineered such that they weren’t
subject to bending or denting, which would damage the enamel.

Here’s what I’d do with it though. I’d send it to Hoover and Strong
and trade it in for some more useful shapes of sterling silver. What
you’d lose on the deal would be worth it… unless you’ve got a lot
of time on your hands.


I would suggest a simple solution even if a bit strenuous one.

Use a large chisel in combination with a 5 pound sledgehammer. It
should not take too many blows and there will be no loss of

Dear Carmen:

I had this exact problem…fortunately I also had a friend that
worked in a metal fabricating shop! What we did was cut it into
mangle size pieces 10/20 OZ then used the forming press to thin those
pieces out…from there you should be able to make smaller ingots
that you can from as needed, also your cost would be much lower then
any jewelry supplier would charge…so get out your phone book and
look under metal fabrication…


I think if I were faced with this dilemma I might just consider
popping the bar on a drilling machine and drilling big holes into it.
Then I could easily catch the drillings by putting a cardboard tray
under the ingot, and melt them down into ingots I could work with.
The remaining ‘Swiss cheese’ could be easily cut up into manageably
meltable pieces with a cold chisel.

Best wishes,
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK

You could bring the bar to a local metals recyler; they often have
hydraulic shears that will cut through a large chunk of metal both
easily and quickly! Our local recyler has such a device and charges
very little to do this. The great advantage here is that none of the
metal is lost in shavings or cuttings, and the resultant smaller
pieces can be melted, sawn up further, etc.


Use a large chisel in combination with a 5 pound sledgehammer. It
should not take too many blows and there will be no loss of

This fits right in with the “Exercising in the studio” thread, too

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ

I just checked with my Gold and Silver Exchange. Right now, the spot
price for silver is $13.67 an ounce. They will buy a 100 oz Englehard
Bar for $1312.00 One ounce coins can be bought for $15.24 an ounce.
Ten ounce bars can be bought for $14.40 an ounce. So, to sell the bar
and exchange for one ounce silver medallions, it would cost
$212.00. I could do a lot of hack-sawing for that amount of money.

I took mine to a machine shop, they cut it into 10 slabs, I melted
each of the slabs and poured them into a mop bucket of water. I put
the silver ‘shot’ into an ammo box, and can now have any amount of
fine silver, from a pellet to a handful of silver, when needed.

Love and God Bless

Would you like it just melted into shot? We (or any refiner) can do
that… Or give you good value for it and just ship what you need.

Daniel Ballard
Precious Metals West
National Sales Manager