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Author Topic:   Spoon Making Sequence

Posts: 1067
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 06-15-2002 09:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

I though some might find it interesting how I hand forge a small spoon. The sequence is basic for most hand wrought flatware. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. It is such a pleasure to have direct contact with the metal as you work with it. This is why I choose to hand forge most of my work. If there is interest I will also show the sequence required to raise a bowl from a flat disk.

  • First Step:
    I begin by first cutting a 3 5/16" length of 1/8" by 3/8" wide bar of sterling silver. I mark a line 2 fifths of the way down to delineate the metal used for the bowl of the spoon.

  • Second Step:
    The bar is then held over an anvil and the sides of the bar are necked in to begin the shaping of the handle. At this time I also forge bevels at the end of the bowl.

  • Third Step:
    The area defined for the bowl is widened with the narrow end of the crosspein hammer and the handle is widened and further forged to provide the width needed for the final shape of the design.

  • At this point I often need to anneal the metal to make it malleable again.

  • Forth Step:
    Further widening on the bowl is needed and the handle is now forged to lengthen it. The neck of the spoon is also narrowed to form a strong square cross section. Care must be taken not to fold over the metal and create creases that can form into cracks.

  • Fifth Step:
    Careful hammering and planishing will give the bowl an even thickness and the required width needed to make a usable bowl. This is the time when I begin the final stages of refining the shape of the finished spoon. If this is one of a multiple set of spoons, I will compare it to the brass template. The intent is to remove as little metal as possible to create the blank desired. This should be accomplished by experienced hammering not the saw and file. This is the point I place my maker's mark and the sterling stamp.

  • Sixth Step:
    Using the template the forged spoon is trued up with a file, emery paper, and careful planishing.

  • Seventh Step:
    At this time the bowl is formed over a depression in wood and then planished over a spoon stake to harden the bowl. I now shape the handle to create that ever pleasant curve that fits in the hand and is a delight to use.

All that is required is the final polish and to test it by using it to eat a bowl of ice-cream.

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Posts: 6
Registered: Sep 2001

iconnumber posted 06-15-2002 09:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cheesenips     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks so much for sharing this process, Fred. I really appreciated the information and how you showed the spoon at the various steps of handforging. It is really fascinating.
I'd be interested in the bowl sequence too.
Then I could bring the ice cream and you could bring the spoons and bowls. :-)

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Posts: 122
Registered: Mar 2002

iconnumber posted 06-16-2002 05:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for smfc75     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A wonderful post!

Can you post a photo of your maker's mark (for Rainwater)?

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 10654
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 06-16-2002 07:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From a prior post:

....The image of my mark is a large F with a small Z within the space created by the F. It is an intaglio mark similar to many of the european marks. I had the mark made nearly 20yrs ago and have used it exclusively in my work. Prior to that I used seperate F & Z letters with serifs from a standard letter punch set and staggered the Z slightly to the lower right of the Z.


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Posts: 93
Registered: Mar 2002

iconnumber posted 06-18-2002 09:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Callie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fred: those are wonderfuly images. I'm glad you make your spoons completely by hand.

Speaking of which - the 2 Fred Miller/Handy & Harman films, showing Fred raising and sinking, are wonderful to watch. It would be really nice if "clean" copies could be found and made available on videos for purchase. Has anyone any idea of this would be possible?


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Posts: 1067
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 06-18-2002 11:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have seen that video it belonged to a dear friend Philip Fike and he was trying to get me a copy before he passed away. It would be a great thing to be able to document the processes used by several different smiths. I know of a few other films that document procedures. I will do what I can to research the availability of the Frederick Miller bowl sequence in video format. My research library is filled with older books that show the steps in raising and forging. These were my teachers and I continue to learn from them. If you have an oportunity to view the Williamsburg Silversmith video do so. It documents the 10 days it took to raise a sterling teapot. The video is readily available and can be ordered over the internet. Handy and Harman were active in revitalizing the interest in silversmithing after WWII. I am indebted to all who took the effort to maintain the tradition of handwork. I am currently raising bowls in the style of those who preceeded me as a method of both tribute and education. I have just completed several petaled bowls for a commision.

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Posts: 1067
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 02-08-2008 09:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have spent most the day at a trade show on jewelry and silversmithing here at the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show. One of the displays offered a DVD of the Frederick Miller vessel raising film. It was shot on a 10mm camera by John Paul Miller. It is a spectacular video and I hope to be able to buy a copy soon. It is being offered by Rio Grande Jeweler's Supply.


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Posts: 1623
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 02-08-2008 10:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There was an exhibit on table silver at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in NYC a couple of years ago that had a video showing a silversmith making a spoon. Does anyone else remember that? I wonder whether that video was one of the ones mentioned in this discussion.

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Posts: 1199
Registered: Feb 2005

iconnumber posted 02-08-2008 11:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jersey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No words can express how I feel about you sharing this process with me (us)! It blows me away! I had never appreciated the work as much as I do now. I am a visual person & it is hard for me to at times comprehend text, but with a visual "go with" it works for me! You're work is formidable!
Merci Beaucoup!
Molte grazie!
Danke Schön!
Muchas Gracias!
A sincere Thank you!


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Clive E Taylor

Posts: 450
Registered: Jul 2000

iconnumber posted 02-09-2008 08:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Clive E Taylor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As a buckle specialist I have very little knowledge of spoons, or indeed interest.
But to me FredZ's posting was fascinating and the information, from someone who knows his subject, is invaluable I think to many of us who only having a sketchy knowledge of the practical side. To understand a object it is often very useful to know why some features arose, and this has solved at least one mystery for me.
Many thanks FredZ

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Posts: 602
Registered: Apr 2004

iconnumber posted 02-09-2008 10:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for argentum1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe this will put to rest all those online auction people advertising 'two part' or 'dovetailed' spoons. But I doubt it. Thanks for the descriptive posting, I enjoyed it.

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