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Removing dents from pewter tea set

Hi, Everyone!

I bought a very old pewter teaset at a flea market for a very low
price because the pieces (teapot, coffee pot, creamer, sugar) are
damaged. It looks like someone put them under something rather heavy,
and the sides are caved in. No torn metal, just a lot of "bodywork"
to do.

So, anyone have any advice about what tools to use (not much room on
the inside), and how I can keep from stretching and bulging the
metal? Seems that I need something curved to rest the piece against
to get the curvature back to what it should be, but how do I do that?

I have a pretty well equipped jewelry shop, but haven’t done any
large scale work or “smithing”. Are there special hammers for this
type work? My chasing hammers are way too large.

Thanks in advance for your help…


Hi Becky,

Here are a few thoughts on how to tackle your project…

Pewter as you probably know is a very soft metal and unlike nearly
any other metal work anneals rather than work hardens. With that in
mind I wouldn’t use metal hammers, or stakes) if you are going that
route for interior support. I would suggest a rawhide mallet
(weighted if you have one). a softer wood mallet would also work. I
would stay away from harder plastics or nylon deadblows as they will
dent the metal. Many times you can even “massage” the dent out from
the inside with some kind of a form fitting tool (dapping punch

Work in broader areas with larger faced tools as the metal will show
the tiniest of dimples.

I hope that might help some. The biggest thing I can suggest if you
have never worked with pewter before is don’t expect it to work like
other metals. Take it on its own terms. Work slowly, listen to how it
wants you to work with it and you will do fine.


So, anyone have any advice about what tools to use (not much room
on the inside) 

the tool that you need called snarling iron. If you do not have it,
the cost probably be more than the tea set. You will need several
sizes. It is not too difficult to make if you want to bother with it.
It will also be quite difficult to match repaired surface to the
original one, so consider some decoration to mask the repairs. Looks
like you will be busy for a while.

Leonid Surpin

Hi Becky,

You will need stakes and a leather mallet. The stakes will need to
reach up inside the teapot (and others). There are a large variety
of different stakes designed for just this purpose. Otto Frei carries
my line of stakes and you can also find them on my website. A
snarling iron is something you can use to get started with. That’s
just some of the basics. Maybe some other people will fill in with
more details.

I make stakes and snarling irons and can custom make any size or
style. They are very popular among people who repair holloware.


For a narrow-necked vessel, you might be able to use a snarling iron
to reach through the neck, and gently, gently, gently rub the dents
outward. Be careful not to stretch the metal, as then you will be
faced with shrinking the resulting lump down to the intended level.
If at all possible, burnish the dents out rather than hammer them. I
repaired a friends teapot by rubbing the dent outward with just my

if the’re short pieces harbour freight sells a palm dolly that will
do most repairs save for the neck of a teapot for about 5 bucks US.
using a sandbag and leather mallet ( less than an 8oz mallet should
work well.) pewter,particularly “old” lead contating alloys should
respond right away. The same company sells a brilliant set for 29
bucks with many hammers and dollies but if its not to be used but
once, the palm dolly sounds like the right price if it’s not either
a tiny piece nor larger than say 10" on the cover’s opening…On the
other hand they sell a number of slappers, and curved dollies that
will do about any body work necessary (they are actually inteneded
for auto bodywork) by the piece, made of stainless steel (they’ll
last if sealed with a coating of light oil or other lube to keep
rust from forming when in a humid studio or environ) and relatively
cheap compared to jewelers stakes - which are not cheap when bought
from vendors. Try making them yourself if it’s a one time repair from
wood: works great, is free for the finding, malleable or carvable,
and can be used for fuel heat or compost when done (if not tro be
retained for later drops or accidents!). Jewelry stakes are
specialised and hardened to beyond what’s necessary to reform pewter
worth reformning…you’ll need a snarling iron for necks if not a
good hardwood stick with appropriate knots that can be inserted and
rolled easily.again free and won’t damage it further…rer