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Removal of dents from sterling silver

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... 

Thanks for the great post Sharon. Very interesting to look at the
object and its repair from it’s symbolic and spiritual side rather
than just seeing the technical challenge. I think we as people often
forget what things mean and see them only as what they are. In this
case a silver cone with dents that must be repaired rather than
seeing the dents as showing frequent and loving use. It’s good to be
reminded that sometimes repairing an object may in fact devalue the
meaning of the object in some way.



Add decorative elements to cover up the damage. [snip] They gave
you old crap, which you will turn into beautifully decorated piece.
It has to worth a lot. 

I find this resolution extremely bizarre, unless you’re joking. You
ARE joking, right Leonid?

Jeff Herman

Hi Pat,

Totally enclosed objects should have a minute hole drilled in it to
prevent explosion. Virtually all metals retain moisture, and if this
moisture expands, we’ll, it could be disastrous. The hole is then
soldered closed with a tapered wire.

Jeff Herman

I find this resolution extremely bizarre, unless you're joking.
You ARE joking, right Leonid? 

Absolutely not1! I have repaired a lot of antiques by covering damage
with decorative elements. The trick is to match style to what is
already there.

Leonid Surpin


I sense just a tad sarcasm in your response:

Add decorative elements to cover up the damage. They gave you old
crap, which you will turn into beautifully decorated piece. 

While you may consider the Yad to be “old crap”, others consider it
to be a damaged ritual object with both sentimental and monetary

Hopefully I can give the restoration of this object the care and
quality it deserves.



Thank you for your thoughtful response

The repair that would be important is the one which would make the
yad usable… 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.

I had been considering this approach for some time. I had been
thinking that a restoration that makes the Yad both useable and
beautiful does not necessarily have to include removal of the dents.

I am however going to ponder the dent removal a little bit longer
and if I feel comfortable I might attempt dent removal as well.

While I was not familiar with the concept of “honouring the broken
tablets”, I discussed the concept with my wife, who spent several
years as the ritual chair of our synagogue, and I am now somewhat
educated in the concept.

Thanks for enlightening me.

I am constantly learning new things through Orchid and not all of
the learnings are about the smithing of precious metals!


Something else to consider: Since the yad is apart, why not remove
the dents to strengthen the piece. Yad’s are normally made of
extremely thin material.

My three cents.

Jeff Herman

Why cover damage with an element that wasn’t meant to be there? This
is one of the most unethical things I’ve ever heard. If an object is
missing an element (e. g. a leaf or cluster of grapes) and it has to
be created, artistic license should only be allowed after researching
the object (it’s origin, style, techniques used). And why not perform
a proper restoration.

Jeff Herman

Hi Milt,

I agree with Jeffery: as long as it’s a apart anyway, it should be
easy to get a mandrel in there to gently rub or tap out the dents. I
didn’t mention it before, because I didn’t realize what it was, or
that it was broken in half. I thought there was probably an end-cap
in the large end of the taper that would be visible post-repair. Now
I see that even if there is a cap, it won’t be visible post repair.
So you can cut out the middle of the cap to snake a mandrel through,
without radically reducing the strength. Once it’s back together,
nobody will ever see the hole through the end-cap. What you lose in
integrity of the cap, you gain in strengthening the shaft of the

Craftsman (Sears) makes a series of small drift punches that are
just the thing for this sort of work. They’re the little ones with
the long tapers that are used for making steel anticlastic stakes.
They’re about $10, and can be ground as needed to make small
mandrels for all sorts of purposes. (part numbers 942901, 942902 &
942903, depending on size.)

You may have to really grind on one of them to set it up so that
it supports the inside of the taper, without hitting any other part
of the existing structure, but as cheap as they are, it’s easily
worth it. As purchased, they’re about RC-50, so they’re plenty hard
enough for anything you might want to do with them. Try not to
overheat them while grinding, or you’ll lose that hardness. If there
is an end cap in the taper, and you leave a ring of it soldered to
the wall, remember to grind out a notch in the mandrel so that it
clears the remains of the cap, or you’ll never get it straight
against the taper.

Best of luck.


PS–> The funny part about all this is that it’ll probably take you
10-20 times as long to make the tool to fix the dents as it will
to actually fix the dents once you have the tool.

PS--> The funny part about all this is that it'll probably take
you 10-20 times as long to make the *tool* to fix the dents as it
will to actually fix the dents once you have the tool. 

Re your PS,…

Its Easter monday here, Ive done the washing up, brought in the days
wood, Alison has gone out to see to her clients so I thought Id
share a thought with you all over my morning coffee…

altho im not a stone setting jeweller, like most of the members on
this forum, I have the same issues with time to make the tooling in
comparison to making the item.

Apart from all the technical requirements theres still the 1st and
most important of all considerations, thats the design on the
product, in this case a coin.

As some of you might know I do wrought jewellery and minting of
products, 20 times the time to make the tooling in comparison to
doing the work!! I wish I could do it that quickly!! its more like 100
times in my case counting all the time involved as well.

I had an enquiry last week for 100 silver double sided 1/2troy oz
argentium silver coins.

The customer hadnt even thought what his vision was for ths coin, let
alone working out the silver cost per coin, and how he planned to
sell it.

So before the first coin was struck (properly, in a collar) he would
need to find the up front costs plus the silver costs and our UK
sales tax on that all at 20%.

When everything is ready to go, then the minting cost is $1.00 each,
and takes an hour for the 100 to complete.

Thats on the one shot at a time hand fed drop hammer by Hazelwood
and Dent circa 1880, not a high speed auto feed toggle press, where
100 a minite is normal.

Assuming the coin is 1in diameter, by 1/8th in thick then
theoretically you should get 144 blanks out of a sq foot of silver,
however it never works out like that, youd be lucky, even staggering
the rows to get 120 from a sq foot. You still need some space between
each blank/punch stroke to ensure no cut outs!!.

Blanking is done on a 6 ton Power press, hand fed from sheet 6in by
12 in, fed from the back edge of the sheet so you can see where your
previous row was.

To see 10 piles of 10 coins all exactly the same awaiting the
collection by the customer is still a joy!!.



And, I bet the customer will be overcome with joy when he/she sees
your work in neat little stacks.

Nice work!
Mary A


Thanks for your thoughtful response.

Yes there is an end cap on the Yad which I will have to drill out.
As you suggested this hole will not be visible once the two pieces of
the Yad are soldered back together.

I also looked into the drift punches that you suggested. They are
not in the Sears Canadian catalogue, but I did find them in the US
catalogue. I am going to drop by a local Sears store and see if the
Canadian stores will bring them in

If I cannot easily get the drift punches, I have a number of
different mandrels and sections of tool steel that I can probably
reshape to help me do the job.


Now that the holidays (Passover) are over, I called my third
generation Yemenite silversmith who is used to repairing Jewish
ritual objects. He said normally you would insert a mandrel and
"iron" the dents out (= burnishing). I remember that traditionally
this was done with spit…:-)… I had been taught by his uncle to
do it with circular movements over the dent. I remember once there
was a post on Orchid that said it should be done parallel to the
dent and not perpendicular across the dent. In any case, he said it
also depends on the thickness of the material. I have sent him the
photos and he will get back to me, but I asked him if I could give
you (Milt) his email and phone number so you can call or write him.
He’s very nice. So I will email you separately.

Janet in Jerusalem

I have spoken with Shalom Zadok, a Jerusalem silversmith, who has
done a lot of repairs of Jewish ritual objects. To remove dents from
items such as Torah yads and candlesticks, he solders a ball
(iron/steel) to an iron rod (he has them with different length rods.
you sometimes need a long one for candlesticks). The ball should be
as large as possible (obviously limited by the diameter of the part
you are fixing). The rod is held in place in a vise, and the object
placed over it. So all the work is done by moving the object rather
than the tool. You are basically pushing out the dent from the inside
with the ball at the end of the rod. The hand and fingers holding the
object supplies the ‘contra’ support on the outside opposite the
ball. I asked what about distortion of the cone? He said you can
always straighten it from the outside with a flat, shiny object (such
as a flat file polished smooth on one of its wide surfaces), using it
in a burnishing manner. So you work the area from both sides.

After seeing the photos, he said on this particular item he would
consider putting a matching filigree ring over the two side-by-side
deep dents.

Hope this helps.
Janet in Jerusalem