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Making a hair comb

Dear All,

I want to make a silver hair comb for a good friend as her Father
died recently and she needs some cheering up. I have never made one
before and wonder if its feasible to saw and then file one out of a
sheet of silver? Any advice or suggestions anyone can give me?

Many thanks,
Sharron in Dhaka, 5 months to go before heading off to Mexico

Hello Sharron,

If you are thinking of sawing and filing the teeth of a comb, I
think it would be a very frustrating project and the teeth would be
very easily bent. Why not purchase a good quality comb and apply your
silver design as trim. It’s the trim that will be visible when worn.
Plus, when the comb breaks, the silver can be removed and applied to
a new comb.

What a thoughtful friend you are. I know she will appreciate your
efforts to bring cheer to her in a time of sorrow.

Judy in Kansas, where we should see snow tomorrow!! The moisture is
badly needed for the wheat to thrive.

Hi Sharron. I have made few hair combs from various materials. Some
of the Art Nouveau examples from around the 1930’s were a great
inspiration. Do an internet search for Lalique, Fouquet and Vever
Hair combs. There are some fantastic pieces made from bone, wood,
metal, vintage plastics or resins and various other materials. I
found metal a little too heavy to make the whole thing from. Metal
thin enough to be light enough will usually bend too easily.
Riveting a nicely pierced silver or gold top piece is not difficult
at all. I highly recommend piercing out the comb part from Mother Of
Pearl. But BEWARE of the dust from the Mother of Pearl.

ALWAYS use a face mask to prevent breathing in the dust. Its not the
most toxic thing in the jewellery trade but still not good to inhale
it. You can also use a little water when sanding or cutting it to
stop the dust becoming airborne.The reason I like M.O.P is because
it is relatively cheap and is a lightweight and strong natural
material,that often has nice grain or pattern to it. It can be
polished and worked very easily.

If you cant locate any M.O.P, since you are doing a nice thing for a
friend I might consider sending you a piece since you’ve got me in a
generous mood.Also if you want I can send you some pictures and other
hints to your email.

I’m currently trying to work through over 4000 emails that have come
through since I last had a quiet day so I may not see a response to
this. If you like you can CC a response to [phil at philwalker dot co
dot nz] so I don’t miss it.

Thanks Phil W

There are some fantastic pieces made from bone, wood, metal,
vintage plastics or resins and various other materials. 

I have seen antique hair combs made from tortoise shell.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.

Why not purchase a good quality comb and apply your silver design
as trim. It's the trim that will be visible when worn. Plus, when
the comb breaks, the silver can be removed and applied to a new

Just s random quote, and I may have missed it if somebody said this.
I’ve never made a hair comb, 1st off, but there’s something I know
about it. An effective comb has to “stick” in the hair. The reason
most hair combs have been made from bone and similar - even plastics

  • is because there’s a certain “bite” to the material that makes it
    stay put. Not saying it’s impossible to use silver, but put a fork in
    your hair and then bend over or shake your head, and see what
    happens. Whatever works, works, but it’s something you need to think
    about or it will be a paperweight, in the end.

Hello Sharon,

An alternative to the sheet metal comb ends is to use twisted wire
for the teeth. The actual ends of the twist being in the shape a
"bow" will help the teeth to stay in the hair by providing a wider
end and twisting of the wire will help to work harden the metal so
that is stays springy. A fellow student in metalsmithing used this
type of teeth in a hair comb she designed and it worked very well.
The twisted wires were then riveted in between sheets of etched SS
that she had also made using a “married metal” technique to inlay
her design, it also had some inlaid shells and gypsy set stones, and
it is quite beautiful. I still see her wearing that piece

Also, I have seen many hair combs that have teeth that were made
from Tortoise Shell, (Lalique maybe?), but I believe it is illegal to
use that now, understandably. You can find some very nice alternative
products on the market that are made from acrylic and resins. They
hold up quite well and are also very beautiful, often resembling
Tortoise Shell so closely that it is hard to tell the difference. I
have also seen some “Faux Bone” hair combs that are quite nice. You
can find Faux Bone at Just some added ideas.


i have made many hair combs from different hard woods, the bandsaw
works very well for the tines, also make alot of forked
hairsticks, many women i know swear by a 2 or 3 tine stick, and
they need no impression on the wood to hold it in the hair, but i do
make the legs close to each other at the end and spread out towards
the head of it to capture the hair, it is only the single
hairsticks that sometimes need surface tread so they stay in
better, and for that i usually make very slight deburred grooves-
actually usually do a crisscross pattern angled towards the head of
the hairstick so it goes in easy but won’t just slide out, like
recurved python teeth so the prey can’t escape or barb on a hook,

try for really nice comb inserts.

I don’t know what the material actually is but it works very easily
and even takes a superior polish if you don’t get crazy on the buff
and gall it. Make a silver spine and recess the comb into the spine.
Its important that you not allow gaps that snag hair. If you’re
talking about dresser set type combs, stuff that’s meant to be
practical, I cannot recall seeing any metal toothed quality combs.
If you’re doing a hair ornament the teeth need to be of a certain
design to hold rather than glide thru the hair. Most I’ve seen were
either swiggly or a sort of navette shape, those can be silver if you

Tortoise shell is illegal but I’ll bet horn would work as well.

Rose Alene

i recall metal [aluminium] combs in the 60’s…and other material, as
well… just saw this, this morning and thought to post for this


i recall metal [aluminium] combs in the 60's.. 

Just FYI - the reason that hair-combing combs aren’t made of metal
is because they tend to snag and pull hair - split ends… Doesn’t
mean it can’t be done, just that there are more appropriate
materials. That doesn’t necessarily apply so much to what this thread
is about - decorative combs -but it’s also something to be aware
of… Combs haven’t (almost) always been made of horn, ivory,
plastic, etc. because nobody ever thought of metal, it’s because it
just doesn’t work anywhere near as well for the job.