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Removal of dents from sterling silver

I am trying to remove some dents from a sterling silver object.

As this is a closed object, I cannot get in behind to planish out
the dents.

The dents are about 2mm x 4mm in 22 ga sterling

Someone suggested that I epoxy copper “handles” into the dents, and
once the epoxy is cured, pull the handles out to pop out the dents.

This seemed like a good suggestion to me, but I have tried it a few
times without success. The epoxy does not bond the copper and silver
together strongly enough to pull the dent out.

The copper handle just comes off with no movement of the silver.

Does anyone have any suggestions for a method to remove these dents?

Does anyone have any suggestions for a good epoxy that would give a
better bond between the copper and silver so that I can try the
copper handle method again?

Calgary, Alberta

I’d ask Keith Attwood. He’s in Pittsburgh and was trained in England
as a Silversmith. MMersky

Milt- On hollow ware I always use a snarling iron. On hollow bangle
bracelets we used to solder a wire to the dent and would pull the
dent out with the soldered wire.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

You ask for any suggestions, Without the object in the hand or some
good photos posted here, any reply can only be general.

Any closed hollow object will have to be made from parts, probably
stamped, then soldered together.

Finding that seam and unsoldering it is too risky, thus its a last

If it were me id get right back to the customer and get their
approval for cutting a hole in it somewhere where its not too
noticeable then use the normal holloware method of getting dents out.

This is using a steel dome on a steel rod inserted into the
holloware then push the object dent onto the knob working from the
dent edges ,gradually pushing the metal back to where it should be.
Dome and rod made up to suit hole and dent positions.

Even as small as a 6in nail with the head rounded will do for small
objects. Clamp rod in your 3rd hand, or bench vice or hammer the
nail into a file handle…

Then replacing the cut out piece with another and soldering it back
in place.

Hollow closed objects have to have a 1mm hole somewhere to let out
the soldering gases otherwise the gases will blow out the solder

It depends on its value, and whether the customer is prepared to pay
the repair costs. approval up front is always essential.

My experience of dents in teething rings, customers like these
dents, reminds them of their childrens younger days.

Hello Milt,

I think we’ll all need to see an overall and close-up image of the
pot, otherwise, you’re going to be receiving all kinds of possible

It’s like calling Home Depot and asking how much they would charge
to side your house without seeing it.

Looking forward to seeing the images,

Jeff Herman


How can I share files and pictures with the list?

Or… send the files to the attention of and we
will upload them for you…


Hi Milt,

The ‘handle’ trick is an auto-body thing. In its original
incarnation, it involves welding a steel rod onto the steel body
panel, and then yanking on that. Works fine. for cars.

I’m not sure what you’re going to find that’ll stick to silver well
enough to work, although I’d start looking carefully at 3M’s “weird
glue” list. They make all sorts of really strange adhesives. One
might just work.

Have access to a PUK or laser welder? That’d do for welding on pull

What kind of an object is it? How ‘closed’ is it? Any way to snake a
snarling iron into it?


3M's "weird glue" list. 

Have searched for this, but haven’t found it, please post the link,
I would love to see such a list!


Point of caution: Before anyone starts offering techniques to remove
dents, images must be shown. I receive requests like this on a weekly
basis: “How much would it cost to remove a dent on a coffeepot?” I
always ask the potential customer to send images to give them an
estimate, not a precise quote. When the image(s) arrive, I can then
determine if I will rub them out from the inside, hard solder or
tin/silver solder a rod to the dent and pull it out, or give it a
kick with a snarling iron. Welding a rod to a dent is problematic
because welding produces a brittle join and will easily break off.
Please, before making suggestions, let Milt show us the piece in
question. It makes no sense to theorize which technique is the
preferred one to use.

Trust me.

Jeff Herman

Apologies to all who replied to my ‘dents’ post yesterday. ?I should
have included some photos with my post and a better description of
the object that I am working on.

Hopefully these two photos will come through. I don’t have an FTP
program installed at the moment so I am hoping that someone at Orchid
will upload them for me (thanks)

The item is called a Yad, or Torah pointer. It is a ceremonial
Judaic item.

Total length is about 10 made up of two 5 sections.

The section with the dents in it is sterling silver (checked by an
acid test).

There are a total of 5 small dents. Each about 4mm long and 1.5 mm

It is a tapered cone with a 5 seam. It is sealed on both ends. The
large end is about 0.5 inch diameter and the small end is 0.25 inch

This section is probably about 22 or 24 gauge.

I have now had several people suggest that I solder wire onto the
dents, pull the wire to pop the dents and un solder.

I am going to try this technique with soft solder (tin/silver) as I
am not sure what type of solder was used in making this object and I
have detected some soft solder in the decorative handle piece.

I have tried a few practice tests on some scrap silver, and the
technique seems to work.

Does anyone have any suggestions for removing the soft solder when I
am done.

I suppose I can gently file, sand and then use a pumice wheel to
remove all of the soft solder

Thanks in advance for your advice


Heat the area and wipe any remaining solder away with a Q-tip or
cotton ball. If there’s residual solder, remove it with 0000 steel
wool, radial bristle disk, or a glass brush.

Jeff Herman

Hi Elaine,

3M's "weird glue" list. 

I was being metaphorical. I’m not sure they have a ‘weird’ glue
list, but I was remembering a catalog booklet of pretty odd
adhesives that somebody handed me at a SNAG conference a few years
back. Realistically, I’d think that giving them a call would be the
fastest way to get to anything that might work, or you could start

The real question is figuring out what the bonding requirements are
to stick to polished silver.

The other question is whether or not the ‘pull’ technique would even
work for the dents in question. As Jeffrey Herman points out,
there’s not much of a real answer that can be given without seeing
the piece.

Although, now that I think of it, ponder this: the adhesive must be
flexible, otherwise it’ll just crack off the surface as soon as the
surface starts to deform by way of pulling the dent out.
Alternately, it’ll reinforce the ‘bowl’ of the dent such that it
can’t be pulled out. Which gives a starting point: needs to be
flexible, and thin enough not to form a dent-reinforcing plug.

For what any of that was worth.


Now weve pictures we can make progress.

How you go about removing the dents will eventually boil down to
what kit youve in your workshop.

For example, if youve a micro tig welder you could fill; the dents
with sterling wire, to match the colour, then file flat and polish
up, If not but you have a lathe turn up a steel insert to match the
taper cut out the 1/2in end plate introduce the taper and gently
dress out the dent on andagainst the insert. That would be my way of
dealing with it. Id make 4 claws to hold in a replacement end plate.

If your w/shop is limited, you could always skin over the whole
thing with a 20/1000 thick sterling sheet.

Pulling out with a soft solder wire means you have to make some sort
of tapered support for the wire to pull against.

I think thats risking bending the object.

Its normal in the gunsmith trade to remove dents in 12 bore shot
guns to use an insert that has a tapered rod inside which when its
threaded end is screw up pulls a raised bump that pushes the dent
out. fine for a parallel bore. Might be remade to deal with your

Or stone masons way of splitting a large stone block in half, they
insert half round steel rods in predrilled holes then drive steel
wedges inbetween the rods.

splits 30 ton blocks easily. you might just make up something

Ultimately what the job is going to cost the customer will decide if
you get to do it or not.

Await to see the end result and how you did it.


The item is called a Yad, or Torah pointer. It is a ceremonial
Judaic item. 

There are some here who are more experienced than I with what the
trade calls “tabletop” - flatware and other things like it. Having
seen the pictures, personally I’d recommend leaving it alone and
call it a patina. You’re going to have a real hard time getting
those dents out by any means because they are sharp and deep and
small. Thewire pulling thing works well on shallow, gentle dents.
BTW, put thewire in a vise and pull on the item, I find works best.
One option is just filling the dents with solder and either just
finish them or silver plate. Me, I’d discourage a repair and call it
lot’s of love. Some will say to use alum to remove soft solder,
which I guess works well. I use muriatic/hydrochloric acid because I
get it at the hardwarestore. It also works fine.

Time to time, I get objects that needed to be repaired. The two
strangest ones was a large bronze bird with a broken off crest and
an elaboratechalice from Vietnam. Apparently I was brave enough and
only one willing to try to fix crest on bird, which I was able to
use Xeasy silver solder to solder crest on. Client was thrilled. A
year later, I find this broken chalice. It had been fixed before,
using black expoy. I had to grind off all the old expoy, solder on 3
8g. wire braces onto the handle, and then fill in the large gap with
metal expoy for a chunk of the handle was gone. A light spray of
bronze paint made the expoy blended in better. It was the only way I
could think of, and it took me 7 months to think of fixing it.

Today, I had to take out dents in a spoon bowl, that after having an
Ukrainian friend look at the stamps, translate them, and it turned
out to be Lithuanian. It was 84% silver, which I was told, was
common in Lithuania for “84” was stamped on back of handle. It was
from the late 1800’s/early 1900’s.


After seeing the online pictures of the dents in the cone one option
you might consider is just filling the dents with solder & then
sanding/polishing the area.

That’s a method similar to the body putty method used in automotive
paint & body shops.


I had forgotten this piece was split in two - sorry. A tapered
mandrel is most definitely the quickest way to remove those dents.
Rounding the end of a piece of steel rod and gently pushing it into
the taper (using most of the pressure along the sides with the dents)
will push the dents out. This will make it much easier to insert a
flat-tipped mandrel and refine the tapered yad surface with a flat
steel burnisher.

As for filling in dents with solder, I must respectfully disagree on
this option. The color difference between the solder and sterling,
coupled with extreme porosity that develops with pooled silver
solder, would be dramatic.

Jeff Herman

After seeing the online pictures of the dents in the cone one
option you might consider is just filling the dents with solder &
then sanding/polishing the area. 

When life deals you lemons, make lemonade.

Add decorative elements to cover up the damage.

Do not forget to charge through the nose.

They gave you old crap, which you will turn into beautifully
decorated piece. It has to worth a lot.

Leonid Surpin

I’m coming from a different place than the other people that have
answered. I spent the last 6 years as an administrator of our 350
family synagogue and part of my responsibilities were the ritual
objects, services setup, repairs if necessary to ritual items along
with the ordinary business operations and finance. I wouldn’t yet be
qualified to attempt a repair of the dents - I’m a student jeweler.

So, what I have to add is this:

The repair that would be important is the one which would make the
yad usable - that is, right now it is broken in half - it should be
a straight piece so the holder can use it as an extension of his or
her hand. This allows the reader to point to the place on the scroll
from which they are reading so as to not touch the parchment with
the oils on the skin of the fingers or hand.

As for the dents, with the difficult or untested nature of the dent
repair, I would leave them as is because of the Talmud teaching of
honoring the Broken Tablets. That is, when Moses in his anger at
seeing the golden calf (must have been one heck of a job for a
jeweler) he destroyed the first set of tablets on which were written
the 10 commandments. After the second set was made, the first set
was placed with the second set in the Ark of the Covenant. We
traditionally extend this concept to honoring someone old or broken
who has lost his Jewish learning through no fault of his own - to
today responding to dementia with the same teaching of respect and

The dents as previously mentioned show lots of love and love of Torah
and frequent use of the yad is highly desirable. So leave the dents,
fix what is broken to make it usable and polish it to make it as
beautiful as it can be following our Jewish value of Hiddur Mitzvah -
the beautification of a mitzvah (reading the Torah in this case).

That all said, if a Rabbi is telling you the dents should be
removed, then unless you are absoltively positive you can remove
them without leaving a blemish on the had, I’d decline the job. If
not in the USA, they should try Israel.

skh Woo-hoo! - my workbench will be fully operational next week and
Revere Academy will be back in operation next month.

I have now had several people suggest that I solder wire onto the
dents, pull the wire to pop the dents and un solder. 

Once, when trying to pull dents as per the above method, I heated
the metal to solder on the wire, and because the piece was closed,
the air inside expanded and the dents magically fixed themselves
before I had a chance to solder on the wire.

Paf Dvorak

Sharon, what a wonderful explanation about the broken yad and the
tradition behind it. Thank you for sharing this The more
we learn about each others beliefs and traditions, the more we learn
to honor and respect each other. I hope the yad can fixed so that it
can be held again, and that the dents remain.