Taking Dents Out of a Pewter Teaset

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…

Becky Bray

Hi Becky,

Do you have Oppi Untracht’s “Jewelry Technology” book… or
whatever it’s title is? There’s something in there that sounds
like what you need. It’s essentially a steel arm with a ball on
the end. The arm is mounted in a vise, and the hollow object is
placed on the ball end. You then strike the arm with a hammer
which causes the ball to move away from the surface and bounce
back to strike from the inside. There are, of course, proper
names and terms for all this stuff, but I don’t have access to my
library at the moment.

Let me know if you can’t find it (if you have the book) and I’ll
see if I can give you a page reference. I believe I’ve also seen
this technique described elsewhere… but I’m not sure where.

Dave Sebaste

This object is called a snarling iron and if you use it, you are
likely to be snarling. It would work but I think that it’s more
force than what pewter needs.The ones that I have used or seen,
have a rather small knob on the working end which applys a small
area of force against the dent which is being held against it
while it, the snarling iron, is hit on its base.This causes the
snarling iron to jump and hit the inside of the vessel. Marilyn

Becky, there are tools that fit inside a vessel such as you
described. I, however, can’t remember what it is called
exasctly, but it’s a sort of long protruding stake…does anyone
out there know what I’m talking about? Also, you might try
talking to those fellas that work at those paintless dent removal
body shops, because they have some unbelievable tools that fit
into some really hard to reach spots…

Meri Ellen Brooks, English & French instructor/Metalsmith Hancock
Middle School 243 W. Ripa Ave. St. Louis, MO 63125 314-544-6423

Pewter is very soft. You may be able to actually push the metal
using wooden punches and hand pressure. Now that I think of it,
wooden spoons, both inside and outside, might work. Try clamping
a wooden spoon in a vise, hanging the artical on it and pulling
the the vessel against it.I have raised pewter and found that it
deformed just from being pulled against the stake while I worked
on it. Pewter may be annealed a little in boiling water if I
recall correctly.Remember that it is mostly tin. Marilyn Smith

There are some people in Boston who specialize in this type of

Davis Silversmiths
36 Bromfield Street
Boston, MA 02108

They do nice work and are reasonable.

Rick Hamilton
Richard D Hamilton, Jr.

I would not use a snarling iron on pewter. Since it is so soft
you are going to cause more damage to the teapot than good. Use
it without striking the end. Just gently “push” your dent out
using increments of pressure till you feel the metal move. The
key here is to go slow. It takes very little force to remove
dents from pewter. Use the largest ball you can fit into the pot
to give good results.

Jim Waggener
Norfolk Silver Co., Inc.