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Making silver plates?

I want to make sterling or fine silver plates at approximately 24
gauge. I want to make them as big as 11x14 inches but mostly 4x5
inches. What is the best method for doing this?


I want to make sterling or fine silver plates at approximately 24
gauge. I want to make them as big as 11x14 inches but mostly 4x5
inches. What is the best method for doing this? 

I am guessing that by “plates” you mean some kind of dish or tray

The term “best” could have variable meaning, depending on what you
have available in your shop. If you intend all hand work, an obvious
way would be just to hammer the form using standard silversmithing
tools (hammers, pitch bowl, stakes, etc.) If you intend to make
deeper forms in circular shapes, spinning is an option. If you have a
press, that is another way to make a depression. I have made small
pieces (spoons) by making a matched hardwood die and punch set,
similar to a dapping punch, but not limited to a circular shape. You
can easily strike the punch with a mallet and get your bowl shape.
Someone in the forum may have personal experience with the specific
forms you have in mind, especially in the larger sizes you are
thinking of.

The techniques used are independent of the metal, but are obviously
easier with the more malleable alloys such as copper, pewter, brass,
sterling, etc. Much more difficult with something like stainless

If you intend to attach handles, decorations, feet, hanging eyes,
etc. you will need the appropriate torch, solders, flux, etc. You
would probably pickle the piece to remove oxidation before final
finishing. Presumably you intend to polish the pieces after the
forming and soldering operations, so you would need the proper
polishing buffs and arbors.

Good luck!

I am guessing that by "plates" you mean some kind of dish or tray

By plates I meant sheet-metal. Flat, square, boring.

buy them in the 11x1" range! if you are asking how to make sheet I
presume you are a novice metalsmith, that said after you have an
ingot to work with, or thicker sheet than desired, anneal the metal.
Put it through the rolling mill and keep reducing, annealing when
necessary, until the sheet is the size and gauge desired. If you have
no access to a rolling mill you should buy the sheet- explaining the
entire process is beyond the scope of jotting it on Orchid for me.
However you should read Tim McCreight’s “The Complete Metalsmith”- any
edition and Oppi Utrachst’s “Techniques for Metalsmith’s” and Carles
Codina’s “Jewelry Making” if you haven’t already, and review the
Archives on Orchid for details.
By plates I meant sheet-metal. Flat, square, boring 

Early in my career I made a few bazillion of those, various metals.
We had an ancient bench shear which made it super easy. Just always
trim every side(always from the front face) so you get a slightly
rolled over edge, almost no finishing required after that. I’d use an
intermediate scrap of wood so the clamping thingie wouldn’t mar the

Short of dropping some not insignificant bucks for one the easy
answer is to have your metals supplier cut for you. Ask if they will
trim as mentioned above. Depending on what your piece is…yeah you
could file and buff, but why? when for a few bucks they’ll do it for
you. You can get on with your project.

But, if you anticipate frequent ‘per job’ trimming…times when you
need to be exact, or right now, or special configuration, on some
sort of ongoing basis you might be better off to buy one. Its
frustrating to wait for material to be cut, it finally arrives, and
its ‘wrong’.

I want to make them as big as 11x14 inches but mostly 4x5 inches.
What is the best method for doing this? 

Jonathan, since you made it clear that what you want is sheet metal,
I guess somebody has to say it - pick up the phone and call Handy &
Harmon or any of the others. That is unless you want to set yourself
up as a refiner. To make a 4x5 sheet of 24 ga., you’re going to need
at least a 6" roller, but 8" would be better - I’d say about a 2hp
motor would be nice, too. That’s besides having a foundry setup to
pour ingots and a kiln for annealing. Now, I roll sheets all the
time, just for convenience, but getting a 4x5" sheet of 24 gauge
silver that’s of any quality is difficult to say the least - in my
standard workshop, that is.

To get an 11x14" sheet you’re going to need a serious foundry, a
big-time rolling mill (like $100,000), a milling machine and an
annealing kiln, plus the auxiliary systems. You could also sit down
with an ingot, a big steel plate and a hammer. I estimate the time
to do that at 289,576 hammer blows, and your product will be
relatively crap…

There is a book available titled Silversmithing by Rupert Finegold
and William Seitz that has a chapter deicated to tray fabrication is
is quite discriptive. This book is available through Ebay, Amazon,
Abe books and others. This is really a good book for those who like
working with silver sheet. I hope this helps.


Thanks for the response. I was looking for 11 x 11 square. I haven’t
been able to find a rolling mill that will do anything larger than
six inches or so.


I would agree. Someone who specializes in small quantity rolling is:

Bob Jackson
Stonewall Industries, Inc.
33 Northrup Ave.
Providence, RI 02904
401/861-4008, Fax: 401/861-2170
Specializing in custom sterling sheet, shaped wire, and fancy wire.

And don’t forget, you’ll have to invest tens of thousands in
breakdown rollers as well as finish rolls. When I worked at Gorham as
a designer, I saw all of this firsthand. Let the pros do it.

My two cents.

Jeff Herman

Ooooooh! You want to MAKE your own sheet stock out of some clump of
silver? I feel foolish now, I totally misunderstood the question. I
thought you were looking for ways to cut the sheet into squares. Duh
me once again!

This is impractical if not impossible in a small shop. If you want
to do it just for the challenge of it you may have a lifetime passion
on your hands. Without a big mill it’ll take you that long perhaps.
Still, I’ve read that the King Tut mask, for example, was hand beaten
so I guess it can be done, eventually.