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Hand hammered cookware? Where and how to learn?

Discussion in 'Hammer & Tongs' started by Sid Post, Oct 29, 2013.

  1. Sid Post

    Sid Post

    Oct 14, 1998
    With the conversion to stainless lined copper cookware made from sheets out of Europe today, finding high quality hand hammered tin lined cookware has become difficult. That got me to searching and looking for forums to learn how to make this cookware. However, this appears to be an "art" that generally isn't widely available nor online. Other than going to Europe in the hopes of an apprentice type program, where do you go to learn how to make copper cookware like you see from near ancient times (pre-WWII) - you know the old cast iron handled ~3mm thick hand tinned copper that was widely available in France from close knit boutique makers before the conversion to "cuprinox" from a sole source for the base sheets everyone uses?
  2. Mahoney


    Mar 8, 2006
    There isn't an online copper-smith's forum...?! Well you could ask the folks at the Early American Industries Association if they might know of a member involved in making cookware
  3. monger4142


    Jan 30, 2010
    this would be an interesting thing to do for fun, but for an apprentice program... I think it's dead. Handmade copper pots are more of a third world thing now. The European pots are done in a factory setting. Making a living hand making copper cookware would be hell.

    you would be competing with people from china, iran, etc for handmade - and france for precision factory made.
    you'd have to have a real passion for it.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
  4. 69_knives


    Nov 20, 2008
    Find a large log block, like one used for chopping smaller diameter firewood. Gouge some dishes out of the top surface of the log block. Get yourself a heavy leather bag filled with sand. Get yourself some metalworking hammers - wood and metal ones. Find a chunk of 1" or larger diameter copper pipe and cut a piece of it off, anneal it, cut it down the length and peel it open. Start practicing on that piece of copper, anneal often as it will work harden and make it more difficult to work/shape, make a bowl out of the 3x3 piece of copper, then get a bigger piece of copper and do it again. Hit it hard with a big rounded wooden mallet to stretch while it is on the leather, sand filled bag, use the dish shapes in the log for finer shaping, use a polished metal hammer and steel anvil to make nice hammer marks in the finished surface. The wooden stretching hammer resembles a fresh sno-cone.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
  5. quint


    Nov 29, 2011
    Interesting topic. Many years ago when I went to a aviation mechanic school they had a demo from a guy that did hand formed aluminum airplane parts. He could make some amazing stuff with his sand bags, his leg, and various hammers and wooden shapes. I doubt they even teach it anymore.
  6. mete


    Jun 10, 2003
    I wouldn't know where to look but there must be someone out there who does it. Years ago I had someone re-tin old copper pots and that I found through a commercial restaurant supply.
    There are schools where you might learn. There's one near Chicago where they teach metal working for art purposes.
  7. Perrin


    May 12, 2013
    I have seen such discussed in two places in the recent years. The first was on a blog called Survivalblog, it has been over a year and the article probably is in their archives. The second article was in the Mother Earth News magazine. I recently received my dad's nearly complete collection (missing two issues I think) of this magazine and I was going through the indexes looking for blacksmith and forging articles. I only saw the article in the index or on a cover while digging a different issue out. I don't know if these contain info that you are looking for but they might be worth searching. 69_knives gave a great overview as to how I've seen similar done. Makes me want to give it a go. Maybe an asymmetric wok to start out with... I wonder if someone couldn't make a mokume gane sauce pan or the like? Imagine a set of those hanging in a kitchen.
  8. Sid Post

    Sid Post

    Oct 14, 1998
    Thanks everyone! Several of you have hit on thoughts I have had. Bowls, platters, saucers, etc. are all good entry level steps for experience. However, as mentioned there is no commercial market for those types of items when you factor in the cheap labor from foreign sources. The one advantage a domestic maker has is the lack of danger from unsafe materials used in construction (assuming you have some basic personal integrity) like you have with some glazes on imported ceramic kitchenware and various pottery items.

    As noted, the Europeans have it nailed for high quality mass produced stainless lined copper vessels. Your choices for QUALITY tinned copper cookware are limited to the secondary market for all but a very small selection of boutique makers. You also will not get anything over 2.5mm (including the stainless liner) from Europe these days. Foreign third world places have a cookware culture all there own that has appeal to many foodies but, it is also hard to justify ~$100 shipping on a $60 pan.

    Myself, I'm thinking the end goal would be the construction of more "old world" style US and European tinned copper in the 3mm and slightly larger range. I personally prefer the soft hammered look and feel too which the modern machines cannot do with current manufacturing techniques.

    Hmmm ... maybe I need to consider "lost wax molds" and learn to pour my own copper to get a jump start on larger pans. Add some lathe work and engine turning and I might have something unique and functional too. A similar process to this seems to be what is used for brass cookware in India and similar regions overseas. Brass is probably cheaper and more forgiving which would be a big factor lower wage regions of the world.
  9. HallHandmade


    Jun 5, 2012
    The easiest way to do this is to learn metal spinning on a lathe. You can take a flat sheet of copper, spin it into a bowl, and then hammer it out to desired finish on sandbags and wooden mandrels as mentioned above.
  10. Jesse Latham

    Jesse Latham

    Jul 4, 2010
    Several years back I watched a utube of a guy in Mexico hammering copper wire into sheets and then into pots. Jess
  11. 12345678910


    Jul 13, 2009
    I've see some interest in medieval armouring, same skills
  12. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    I've seen a man hammer someone's portrait in a piece of copper on a fair a few years ago.
    Amazing how much detail he could get in his metal.
    Be aware that cu work hardens and needs to be annealed whilest shaping it.
  13. JMJones


    Jul 14, 2010
    There is a youtube video series of a guy forging a copper pot and tinning it.

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