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
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.