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Doming copper


I don’t have a hydraulic press, but I need to dome a variety of
shapes for enameling.

Ovals, squares and other assorted shapes.

My copper is 24 gauge so not too thick but a little too thick for
the newspaper/phone book method.

I have wooden dapping blocks and such but I just need the edges to
be slightly curved with a relatively flat surface for enameling. In
other words not too steep of a dome.

I hope I am not being too confusing and thanks for your help/ideas.



I use a stake and plastic hammer for doming copper shapes for
enamelling. The stake choice and where on the stake you place the
piece controls the amount of curvature, allowing lots of
possibilities for odd shaped pieces. The plastic hammer is
non-marring, unless you WANT the hammered texture. Metal hammers thin
the metal, harden it and increase the size. This can be useful, of
course, but perhaps not if you already have the dimensions or
proportions you want.

Its worth exploring the different textures you can create through
hammering on a stake. Although I don’t use transparents on copper
much, copper is an ideal practice medium for hammering techniques
you might later use on fine silver.

Annealing may be a good idea if the piece is really hard after

Phil Duclos


What you are trying to do is either sink the copper or raise the
copper. Sinking you hammer into a hollow and the copper will be
stretched where it is hammered into a hollow. With raising you are
taking a flat sheet and raising the sides. As Phil mentioned for
raising you need to have a proper stake and the proper hammer.

As the sides are raised it will form little folds. By hammering down
the folds the sides will curve up. Probably not the best explanation
becaus e the raising method requires correct methods of holding the
sheet to the stake and proper placement of the hammer blows.

Phil not sure how big of piece of copper that you are using but I
find that a metal hammer works the best. Yes it will leave some
minor hammer marks that will require plannishing. With a plastic
hammer it does not move the copper correctly and if you take a
micrometer and measure the edge you probably will notice that you
have thickened the sheet some. Raising does not thin the metal or
thicken the metal if done properly.

Warren Townsend


Doming shapes like this (curved edges but a mostly flat front) can be
tricky using round dapping punches. I used a lead block a lot in my
jewelry making days ; pitch blocks were always too slow for
production work. My approach now would be to grind some dapping
punches to the desired shape (60 grit belts on a 3" x 8" expandable
rubber drum sander whoop some butt in situations like this) and make
polyethylene or nylon female dies. That way there’s no messing around
with meticulous (slow) working your way around the edges of each
piece, just a few good smacks with the BFH (although I have a 3-ton
arbor press and hydraulic presses for myself). I rough out the
plastic blocks with rotary files (in an electric drill or air tool)
and then heat up the custom doming punch and use it to melt the final
shape into the plastic (using lots of Shop Ventilation !), and a bit
of cleanup with a bur and hand sanding. Nylon lasts longer, poly is
easier to work and refurbish when it gets chewed up; either one works
fine; or you could cast the blocks in plastic steel. Of course
there’s the old tree stump method too, tried and true by generations
of Native American smiths, but I’d use plastic.