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How to make a baby rattle?

I have been asked to make a small silver baby rattle. But as I have
started to contemplate the project, I find myself unsure of the best,
but also cost effective, way to do it. It has to be a single ball
rattle with an oval handle that is tapered so it is thinnest where it
joins the ball end, and widest and rounded at the end of the handle
(eg like a knife handle). The ball needs to be about 11/2" diameter
and the handle about 2" long. I also need to include some sort of
stamping or pattern on the ball part of the rattle.

I have considered doming two sterling silver disks (after somehow
stamping a pattern, perhaps with leather stamping tools) and
soldering closed with some small beads inside for the ‘rattle’. This
seems to be the easy part - it is the tapered handle that has me
stumped. I have thought about creating a wax model of the handle and
having it cast (although I have never done this before). I have also
thought about making both the handle and ball part in PMC instead,
but I am unsure about making something this large out of clay.

Does anyone else have any ideas?

Of course it depends on what they’re willing to pay but I don’t see
this as a cost effective/profitable project.

What troubles me though is the potential product liability. I’ve
seen some battered and abused rattles in my day, can you be sure the
little balls cannot possibly come out and choke the kid?

I would:

  1. Research government regulations as to the minimum accepted size
    of a rattle. I’ve seen gauges for this purpose;

  2. Braze every seam to avoid germ build-up;

  3. Give it a high polish to make it easier to polish.

Jeff Herman

Does anyone else have any ideas? 

Well, Craig, I guess nobody had the heart to tell you that you just
pick 'em up by their feet and shake 'em…;<}

Never made a baby rattle before - maybe I’ll do that sometime… My
thoughts, though… There are two main issues that are paramount
(always constraints, eh?) #1 is that it is for a baby, unless it’s
not a rattle at all, but a showcase filler. That means that I’d
probably shoot for 1/2 ounce total weight, and certainly under 1
ounce - featherweight but not flimsy. #2 is that it has to rattle,
which also means thin in the ball end. Thick metal won’t rattle, it
will go “chunk” and have no volume.

So, for the ball you’re probably looking at 24 if not 26 gauge. 22
is probably too heavy, but it might be ok. Stamping metal before
doming it is only ok if you don’t mind having distorted stamping,
because it is certain. Stamping after is do-able but difficult. This
is the spot for that other thread - engraving. But that’s just
decoration. I’d do the doming, solder a few bits of wire inside the
edge of one so the other will key into place, punch a hole in the
top of one of them, and solder them together. Then I’d fill with the
beads and put the handle over the hole I made.

A two inch long handle that is cast or PMC will weigh a ton, and no
baby will handle it and the inertia could even be dangerous. This is
a creature you can hold up in one hand, not a 3 year old.
Traditional silver rattles that I’ve seen have had traditional
stamped handles, like table knives have, made out of very thin
sheet, like table knives.

In the situation of not really knowing what you are doing (it seems,
and we all do that) and trying to do good without wasting 100
hours… I might shoot for a wooden handle trimmed with silver, if
the customers are amenable to that. Or something made out of stout
wire, either flat or 3d that is child safe in every way. Just a loop
of silver in the shape would do the trick - some baby spoons are
like that. Then I’d put a plate over the hole in the ball I made and
solder to that, or put a threaded rod on the plate to mount a wooden

Something like that…

After I wrote above, I Googled “silver baby rattle” (web and
images)— 32 grams for one, one common handle is a large silver
ring. Notice too how there’s a rim over the seam of the balls to
clean it up. Another option I found was 3 large silver rings so two
rattle when one is shaken - a much less ambitious and attainable
project, perhaps.

I might just have to make one of those sometime…

#2 is that it has to rattle, which also means thin in the ball
end. Thick metal won't rattle, it will go "chunk" and have no

This is good thinking, but I don’t think it matters to the baby
(might to the parents). They just like 'em to make some kind of
noise or vibration. It’s a rattle, not a bell.

One other thought-- on the subject of caution: It is unlikely a
rattle would come open, but not impossible. Things get dropped and
stepped on. So I would consider attaching a clapper rather than a
loose bead for sound. A tiny “ball and chain” will provide an extra
measure of certainty against swallowing/choking.