View Full Version : spoons

03-17-2004, 11:15 PM
Hello. Ran across this forum by accident and would like to ask a question if you don't mind. This is my last chance I think for this idea to work. I have been interested/ involved in knife making in a small way for a while, and in wood working in a larger way for a long while. I recently got the bug to build myself a complete set of dinerware from scratch. I would like to use thin 440C and stabalized wood to hand craft each piece. What I can not figure out is how to shape a spoon. Can a set of dies/ molds be made out of thick steel so I van use a press to form hot steel into spoon shape? Forks I can do by hand, but I need two sets of dies for teaspoon and tablespoon. Can it be done for an affordable price? If I have broken some rule or put this in the wrong place feel free to delete it. If not, TIA for any advice, pro or con.

03-18-2004, 01:18 AM
Wow, this is going to be one expensive tableware set. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

I'm not sure you would want to use 440. I don't think it holds up well in the acids and salts found in food. One of the austenitic stainless steels may be a better choice.

Yep, you could form the spoons using dies and a press. These would be your biggest expense. I think you could get by with cold forming also. No need to add forging to the expense.

03-18-2004, 03:24 AM
You can make the dies out of D-2 or S-7 and then harden it and they should last forever with even a 500Ton press (not that you would need one). 303 or 316 Stainless would be a better choice in stainless Steels. 440C is hardenable and difficult to work - not that the 3xx series are easy to work either...

You might want to look at making them out of Gold or Silver - this metal can be hand beaten with hammers and hand tools and easliy worked with MAPP gas torches. I suggest that you get youself a book on Silversmithing and proceed form there - it is a rewarding pastime and can be lucrative if you are adept and artistic. If you do a good job you will leave a family heirloom of great value.

03-18-2004, 03:27 AM
Perhaps hand beaten silver would be a better choice. The old fashioned way. If you are going to go to that much effort why not use silver?

Whuups, I didn't finish reading all of Thrud's post. Great minds think alike http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 03-18-2004).]

Shed Machinist
03-18-2004, 07:43 AM
If you heat gold too hot doesn't it more melt than become easier to form?

At least that us what my science teacher says.

J Thornton
03-18-2004, 09:27 AM
I would like to ask a couple of questions about this also.

Could this be done with one set of dies to both shear the blank and form the bowl & bend the handle or would you need 2 sets?
What size press would be needed to do this? Could it be done on a hand operated arbor press or a H frame bottle jack hydraulic press?


03-18-2004, 11:00 AM
First, thanks for all the replys! I think for as large a setting as I want to make silver would be pretty expensie, won't even comment on gold.I am grateful fior the advice on steel however. Will make a note of that.J Ts post might clarify what I was thinking as he stated it better. Two piece die that I could sandwich hot steel between and press in an automotive type press,12-20 ton. What I really need to know I guess can dies be made and how much they would cost.

J Thornton
03-18-2004, 12:43 PM

If you wanted to you could electroplate the set with gold or silver.
One other thing I would like to ask is if it could be done without heating the stock? How much more force would it take?


[This message has been edited by J Thornton (edited 03-18-2004).]

03-18-2004, 01:00 PM
Let's do some figuring here, in round numbers, of course.

SS in 16ga or slightly thicker takes roughly 2 tons per inch to shear. A teaspoon is 6"+ length. So the perimeter would be 14"+/-. That would take a 28 ton press capacity. Presses should never be run close to their rated capacity, let's specify a minimum of a 50 ton press. That tonnage would only do the blanking of the shape out of sheet material. Forming, coining, etc would be on top of that, now we may well be up to a 100 ton or more press.

As to the dies, since you asked I assume you don't have the equipment/knowledge to make these yourself. Maybe $10K+ to have a compound die made for shearing and forming, etc on a teaspoon.

Convinced this may not be a viable project yet?

May I suggest an alternate approach? Buy some of the el cheapo restaurant flatware, similar to what you see at a Denny's restaurant. Embellish the cheap stuff with your own designs and thin the edges as appropriate.

[This message has been edited by DR (edited 03-18-2004).]

03-18-2004, 01:43 PM
That's what I had heard, but wanted to find out for sure from people that actually know. As far as shear, my plan was to cut out the shape on a band saw.Shape to be determined bu trial and error. Only need a die to form the actual cupped part of the spoon.The more hand work I have to do the better.
Yes, I had thought about buying pre-made flatware and building handles for them. Seems my only option.
Thanks again, Carl.

03-18-2004, 03:50 PM
You might also want to look at this guy's page www.heritagesonline.homestead.com/metalworking2.html (http://www.heritagesonline.homestead.com/metalworking2.html)

J Thornton
03-18-2004, 04:04 PM
Thanks DR
That does put my SS spork idea on the back burner for a couple of years.


03-19-2004, 05:40 PM
You could shape the bowl of the spoon by hammering it into a small pipe. Soom blacksmiths have a castiron block with cavities that would be better.Use the ball end of a ballpein hammer. Try making soom out of mild steel before to practice first.

03-19-2004, 08:07 PM

It is impracticalfor you to consider doing this with anything less than a 500 ton prss brake. This is a coining operation, and although commercial cuttlery is manufactueed in toggle presses they are often 150 ton units and it is a multi step process well beyond the scope of the average metalhead.

Your comment about siver being too expensive is wrong however, as silver is only about $7 per ounce and you could do one piece at a time and thus not tie up huge amounts of money, thus doing your hobby in the Pay as you go catagory - not all that bad!

In actual fact you would find that the Stainless Steel stock would be far more expensive for the flat stock that you would need to buy than the silver sheet. So your assumption are ill founded. Just because you can buy stanless flat ware in wally world for half a buck does not mean you can buy the material for that price - that is the irony of the situation...

03-20-2004, 04:03 AM
I'd try beating the shape cold over a spoon shaped dolly...

03-20-2004, 07:04 AM
Oneida Silver is making noises about closing their Oneida NY plant. Maybe their's a press there. Lost too many dollars last year in the US. Most of their Mfg is not in the US any more. Too bad, more jobs gone...

Another option is nickle silver which can be beaten by hand and plated, and it may be silver or gold plated easily.

03-20-2004, 01:43 PM
You could try sheet pewter.

03-20-2004, 04:31 PM
Hand working any of the metals mentioned is no simple undertaking, especially if some semblance of uniformity is desired. I have hand hammered silver, copper, aluminum, steel, brass and other metals. With the exception of high carat gold they all must be annealed as they are worked. It is no mean feat to hammer to a consistent shape and finish and requires a good set of hammers, especially a fine planishing hammer as well as a good measure of patience. You need a shot bag, some hardwood dies, sandbag and other forming aids like lead bricks to hammer on. This is a skill that is not learned overnight. I don't mean to discourage as it is a very satisfying skill but it takes time to learn the metal.

03-20-2004, 04:44 PM
No way I would try to hand hammer a full set of spoons.
I may not know much about lathes or mills, but I know for sure that in order to simply bend a thin piece of annealed steel into a connvex shape( or concave if you look at the other side) would not require hundreds of #s of pressure. I would bet a good vise would do it if I had the proper die. Now if I was trying to stamp patterns into it it would. I just wanted to know if it was feasable to get two sided dies made to form the actual eating cupped part of the spoon, not the handle. I wanted to cut out an oval of steel and force it between two pieces into the cup shape. It could be heated before putting pressure to it, which should temper it enough for an eating utinsel. Now I understand that the dies would be difficult to form, therefore very expensive. Thanks for all the responses, you have been VERY helpfull.

03-20-2004, 04:48 PM
I think Evan's suggestion is the one I would pick. This is only because the project only makes sense if you want a final product that has that hand made appearance and the irregularities. You might lose that part of it with the stamping method. And of course perfection is cheap and available in the dollar store. A hand made set of utensils would be a great thing to have in an old log cabin. I like things that are made out of wood with knots in it and leather that shows some life instead of looking like naugahyde or vinyl so this project does have a certain amount of rustic appeal for me. Good luck and be sure to show off your work when you are done.


03-21-2004, 07:39 AM

What you are describing is an industrial production process. You can't do it in the home shop. BUT, you could, if you wish, make a set of flatware that would be a true keepsake. Don't discard your idea just yet. It has merit. You need to adjust your goals a bit. Choose your material according to your capabilities, budget and equipment. Quality hand work is the most valuable of all and is appreciated by anyone who sees it. You can achieve what you wish, just not by the methods you have originally suggested.

Bill Cook
03-21-2004, 10:44 AM
Sounds like a cool project.

Reading your post it is obvious that you're into sculpting this set by hand. There is no reason the dies can't be hand ground to a shape you like. This isn't a Dremel job, but a bench grinder and a 1/4" die grinder will get it done. I'd prefer a bench mounted belt sander for shaping and finnishing the male.

If the bowls are going to be formed hot, the die material can be just about any ferrous material. Softer is easier.

If you end up forming them cold, The dies will need to be harder than the spoons, but not anything complicated or expensive - even for a set of 1000. A piece of wear edge off of a bucket loader or snow plow come to mind for the female die. These can be gotten for free at a local road department or heavy equipment dealer. And say a broken truck or or tractor axle for the male die. A guide for the axle can be cobbed up and clamped or bolted to the wear edge, so alignment would be adjustable. If the axle is going to be struck, the struck end should be softened with fire or protected with a softer piece of metal. (I shot myself in the back of the thumb not heading this warning over 30 years ago. The chunk is still there - could'a been somewhere else.) A set-up like this on a solid surface could be wacked with a sledge.

In cold forming, the the dies will have to allow for some spring back. Try it, and grind some more.

Titanium may be another choice of material. Unique color, forges well, light weight, used inside the human body... it will form and cut much easier than the SS's used in flatware.

Gotta get off line, someone might wanna buy this place (hope hope), and I have some titanium tasting to do.


03-21-2004, 12:35 PM
Might want to consider using titanium for the set. It can be had in virtually any thickness you want and as long as it's kept cool during the process it doesn't get work hardened so it's easy to work with.
Another interesting characteristic it has is the ability to be anodized or heat colored, either in an oven for a solid color or with a torch for uneven colors.
Plus when you're done making the set there's no need for heat treating.
You would of course have to serrate the case knives but that's the norm anyway.

If you're interested in knife making check out Blade Forums. It's a great web site for makers and collectors. Here's a link but the site is down for maintenance for a couple hours.

03-21-2004, 06:31 PM
Imokie- I'm a bit surprised that no one here with a home CNC machine has offered to make you a set of dies for a reasonable price. There are several CNC forums out there, maybe you should cast your line into a few of those ponds and see if you get a nibble. Of course, your project would require 3D machining which may be beyond most home setups.

03-21-2004, 06:55 PM
Some good sugestions there. I already have die grinders, belt grinders, buffing equip., forge, etc for knife making. Might give the hand making a die a try. Will keep looking. Many thanks to everyone that answered.