I have a block of lead that came with a few other tools from a hobby
jeweler that was selling all his tools. This block of lead came with
them and do any of you use lead to hammer one I worry the silver or
gold will get pieces of lead on them, small or tiny.
My understanding is lead will eat into the metal when heated.
Any suggestion? I live in Mexico and some things are hard to get,
like a pitch bowl.
Thank you for your help.
Sharron in Mexico waiting for the heat to arrive and the rains to
wash the dust away.
Hey Sharron im in mexico to and somewhere in an old notebook I'm
sure i havea Taxco traditional pitch recipe. Im in tepoztlan where
are you? Ill post this recipe as soon as i find it
I have a block of lead that came with a few other tools from a
hobby jeweler that was selling all his tools. This block of lead
came with them and do any of you use lead to hammer one I worry the
silver or gold will get pieces of lead on them, small or tiny.
I have a great, big chunk of lead that I use quite often.
But I make sure there's no bits of lead on anything I plan to heat.
Just like I make sure there's no pickle or water on my sheet or
ingot before I put it in my mill.
Hi Sharron If you use the lead to hammer on put a piece of tissue
paper down on it first. Better safe that way. Sheri
Sharron Gray asked about using a lead block for hammering, well as
some may know I have used these throughout my goldsmithing career of
52 years so far. As for the lead damaging metals, just make sure that
you clean any items before heating them with a torch. if you are
interested Hanuman posted a short photo tutorial of mine a while
back, showing how I used a lead block when making and shaping a
copper leaf, see;
Peace and good health to all.
James Miller FIPG
My family used blocks of lead for many years as a forming tool. They
were able to be used many times before the design became too deformed
to use, then they were melted into a coffee can and re formed. We
only ever brushed off the lead with a tooth brush paying special
attention to textured areas and designs which might hold onto some of
the lead. The incidence of lead remaining in the piece after forming
and during the next soldering phase was very few.
Wash your hands with soap and water and the piece being formed with
a tooth brush after using the lead blocks. We used lots of hand
carved wood punches to form jewelry in the lead, broken hard wood
handles from axes or hammers were always saved to make these punches.
I stopped using lead blocks after buying my Bonny Doon hydraulic
press. In the Bonny Doon I was able to make dies which could form
much faster with no tool marks. With the BD I could form all in one
step instead of the many steps it took in lead blocks and much less
finishing to achieve the high polish my family is known for.
Sam Patania, Tucson
You could ask the person you bought it from what he used the lead
for, altho your hammering needs may well be and most probably are
completey different to his.
Be that as it may, hammering is a very broad term, for example if
you want to turn round wire into thin strip you need a hard hammer
and a hard as in a hard hammer steel block to hammer your wire
between. also they need to be polished with some 600 grit wet and dry
silicon carbide waterproof car body rubbing paper, otherwise any
marks on the hammer or block will show up on the strip.
For repousse work lead will work, try some 1/32 in thick fully
annealed copper sheet on it. always test your techniques on a base
metal befor picking up the expensive stuff.
As for getting pitch, you might try and find a road resurfacing co
near you. they will have access to ashfalt in block form. Similar
Comes from Trinidad. When mixed with sand and stone chippings its
the basis of road surfacing.
You will get it before these are added.
Needs must the devil drives!
Yeah, but lead is a bummer for lots of reasons. I'm sure Mr. Binnion
can give you some more specifics on the metal itself. Don't get hung
up on the professionally made things as you begin your journey. Try
to collect and make as many of your own tools as possible. Stamps and
chasing tools are some of the easiest to make. Look around a junk
yard, even in Mexico there are bound to be places to pick up little
pieces of metal rods in different sizes and shapes for free. The
traditional cast iron bowls are not the only thing that can hold
pitch. Books and the internet for learning are your most important
tools right now. Find a good pitch formula that you can make, and
start with a small cast iron cooking pot or pan. Chasing is such a
great technique to start making things with, you can build a whole
line of jewelry with that as your beginning. Make some things,
satisfaction and fun will eventually lead to a few bucks. Be creative
in your whole life outlook! Thomas III
do any of you use lead to hammer one I worry the silver or gold
will getpieces of lead on them, small or tiny.
Usually it's not a big problem - just wipe it with steel wool,
maybe. Otherwise you can put some thin cardboard or even paper in
between. Lead is good for certainthings, the end grain of a stump is
good for certain other things.
I'm not understanding. You've got access to the internet and Mexico
has a postal service, doesn't it? How is it hard to get? Expensive,
maybe, but hard?
For a pitch bowl, you just need something to hold the pitch that's
heavy and (ideally) can be angled to make some tooling operations at
a handier angle.
Old cast iron cookware can be used.
There are recipes for pitch out there. Plasticene is another poor
Hi better safe than sorry, get the lead out of your workshop.
Same goes for soft solders, not easy, soft. The stuff they use on
circuit boards etc.
Also unless an expert keep pewter out of your workshop too.
Pitch is road tar isn't it?
if you are interested Hanuman posted a short photo tutorial of
mine a while back, showing how I used a lead block when making and
shaping a copper leaf, see;
It's just good to hear that James is still around, is why the
particular quote. I have no use or space for a hydraulic press - if I
had one I'd figure out things to do with it, for sure. A lead block
is old school. Others mentioned pitch, I mentioned astump, they all
have their place. You have soft, softer and softest, hard, harder and
hardest for something to hammer against, and they all have their
uses. I have a block of type metal that someone gave me yearsago
that's really useful, too. Much harder than lead, much softer than
BTW, you can cast lead in a cardboard box, up to a certain size for
bench blocks. Tape it around with masking tape or the like for added
security, wipe the inside with vaseline or other grease, melt on a
hotplate and pour it. It's not very hot by jewelry standards butit's
plenty hot enough to burn you if you spill it on your leg. Let it
sit an hour and you have a fresh new block.
We use a lead block to place rings on when we stamp the inside with
hallmarks. We just gently clean off the bottom of the shank when
The lead block is NOT on our personal benches. That could be a bad
It has always sat on a small table with our jeweler's lathe.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Never lived in a foreign country, right...........
Reliable postal service is a luxury most countries do not have.
Are you having a bad day, hopefullye?
To anyone still interested in this subject, I had written a long
time ago on orchid; we use Pewter blocks instead of lead, it is
slightly harder then lead but does the same job beautifuly without
the Unhealthy issiues as lead, and the contamination to other metals
may still be there but it is less since pewter stays together better
then lead ; but STILL one should take great care in non
contaminating your precious metals, maybe giving it a quick rinse
with soap and water/and a brush. 20 plus years never had an incident
with contaminating my gold and silver with the pewter block.
H. Atelier Hratch Babikian
BTW, you can cast lead in a cardboard box, up to a certain size
for bench blocks.
I bought a few lbs of lead from my local scrap yard, placed it (it
was in sheets) in the bottom of a "family sized" can that once held
baked beans, and melted it with my oxy/ace torch.
When it was all set, I cut away the steel can and now have a huge
chunk of lead to beat on.
Sometimes I even put gold or silver on it & beat on that.
To anyone still interested in this subject, I had written a long
time ago on orchid;
Hi Hratch, do you remember the name of this article (or another
reference that help to find it)?