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Making belt buckle bolsters - S.Silver wire

Greetings to all… My first post. I am a Dead Soft Amateur! Heck
I’m so new I don’t know if that was even funny!

Anyway, the big mystery for me is this… I have been making
belt buckle bolsters out of one eighth inch brass for some time. It
is hard to work with.

Today I did a search on Google and found a dealer that sells
S.Silver wire. He sold me two pieces 15" long. He told me that it
was “Dead Soft” wire and that I would be able to make my bolster
shapes very easily. Sounds great. He also told me when the shape
satisfied me, to heat the wire with a torch. He didn’t say what kind
of torch though… and after the wire looked like ‘ash’ let it cool.
He told me when the wire cooled, it would be hard and hold it’s shape
extremely well. Bolsters have to be tough you know…

IS this program going to work out the way the salesman described it?
What “didn’t” he tell me…?

Thanks to any and all in advance!
Gratefully, Colin Paterson

Dear Colin, First off, sterling silver can be heat hardened but
that involves holding it in a hot oven for a sustained period of
time. It is quite specific and not easy for the beginner. I think
it does stay harder if it cools slowly but I still wouldn’t call it
hard. Most of us harden silver by shaping it, forging it, hammering
it, etc… It is called work hardening and it is the common method.
Tim McCreight has an excellent book for beginning metalsmiths that
can probably answer most of your questions.


Hi Colin, Sorry for the slow response… been off doing a show. I
made the mistake many years ago of making a gorgeous inlaid belt
buckle with insufficient strength to meet the requirements.
Fortunately, I made it for myself, and didn’t suffer any undue
embarrassment with a customer! :wink:

I have made several since then, and have rectified the problem. I
use 6 ga. or 8 ga. round wire. Use a triangle or square file to
create a notch where the bend will be, and make the “legs” about 3/8"
(~5mm+) in length. After bending at the notches, solder the bends
with hard solder. Then solder this piece to your buckle with medium
solder. The “peg” of the buckle is easily formed by melting the end
of an 8 ga. wire to create a ball at the end of the wire, then
cutting it off at about 10 mm and creating at ~30 degree bend, about
halfway down. Solder this, with medium solder to the back of the

Any questions… drop me some email!

All the best,
Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)