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Working with lead-free pewter


#1

Does anyone have experience to share about working with LEAD-FREE
pewter? Would like to experiment with making pendants, rings, etc.
with lead-free pewter with both wire and sheet form. Where would one
find the materials? Are there “things to know” about this material
to keep in mind?

THANKS, Christa


#2

We make no-lead pewter into jewelry in our shop here in the
mountains of Mexico.

What we do is to cast the molten alloy into an ingot mold that is
about 17 cm long, wide and about.5 cm. tall.

Then we take it to a rolling mill in Taxco and have the ingot made
into sheet.

The pewter will break up around the edges but it is possible to make
#12 and #14 guage sheet in this way.

Also, we will have the ingots drawn into round, square, and
half-round wire.


#3

You dont say if youve any metal working experience nor wether you
have any metal working tools. So ill assume your starting from
scratch. thats always fun. however your lucky nowadays, that you can
do your research at home in front of a computer. when I started out
some 44 yrs ago one had to go to where metal was worked and read all
you could from book. So you need

  1. a source of supply of pewter, which is pure tin with a small
    percentage of antimony to harden it.

  2. the tools to work it

3.the right low temperature solder to join it

  1. the right flux to go with 3.

  2. somewhere to work it.

If your using thin sheet or wire, then you can do it on a kitchen
table. tho a dedicated bench is tbe best. Thicker metal is best cast,
for that you need

1. a suitable source of heat,
2. Crucibles,
3. tongs,
4. Moulds
5. insulating gloves etc.

So the setting up of a metal working shop for something as simple as
pewter is still a major exercise if your starting from the
beginning. Even if youve access to a peweteres workshop unless you
know what your looking at its wont help you much.

A good book on pewter working is probably the best place to start.


#4

Hi Christa, you have to have a completely separate work station and
tools from other metals as pewter can pit silver and ruin it. It’s
softer to work with than silver and solders at lower temps. It’s
fantastic for repousse/chasing work. Have fun! Gill

Gill Bridgestock
www.gillbridgestock.net


#5

Hi Gill,

you have to have a completely separate work station and tools from
other metals as pewter can pit silver and ruin it. 

I am curious how does pewter…with today’s composition of tin,
copper and antimony ‘pit’ silver?

Thanks,
Greg Miller


#6

Christa,

Does anyone have experience to share about working with LEAD-FREE
pewter? 

My first work in metal was in pewter, or more specifically
"Britannia Metal", which is lead free. It’s really easy to work with
whether fabricating or casting, but doesn’t act like most metals, so
a lot of what you know doesn’t apply.

It expands as it cools when cast. You can make your casting molds
from wood or get more than one casting out of a cuttlefish mold
(depending on the design). You can use a kitchen ladle for a
crucible. I tried raising a piece once and it was like hammering on
piece of rubber, the piece almost wanted to turn inside out, until I
realized I didn’t need to hammer so hard. It could easily be raised
using delrin or hardwood mallets and stakes. Other forming, like
sinking or using a mallet on a t-stake or mandrel works just fine.

Edges can be fused together and then with a bit of filing and
planishing seams disappear. It darkens with the pickle we put other
metals into, but doesn’t have the oxidation problems of copper
alloys so no need for pickling the metal. When you do need to
solder, a variety of low temp. solders are out there of which
Stay-Brite (sp?) is the best.

You can fuse it onto copper alloy elements, which is really cool for
adding color. I don’t remember etching it, but it stamps really
well. The only caveat is the one about keeping separate files, bench
pin, sand paper, etc. A small piece of this metal will eat a pit
into silver, copper, etc. when raised to annealing temps.

That’s the jist of it. Look up Fred Fenster, he was my professor’s
teacher and mentor and you’ll find some images of this metal. He was
also a silversmith, so look at the materials used.

Have Fun!
Ruthanne


#7

Hi Greg

I am curious how does pewter....with today's composition of tin,
copper and antimony 'pit' silver? 

Pewter has a low melting temperature which means it can alloy with
other metals that melt at higher temperatures. Pits and spots are
caused and can get deep into the metal and is almost impossible to
get rid of, of course this only occurs during heating but if a piece
of silver is soldered on the same station and it comes into contact
with pewter dust etc it gets embedded into the silver. Regards Gill
Bridgestock

Handwoven fine silver & gold
Distinctive handmade jewellery
www.seekandadore.com/gillbridgestock