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Hello all, I have a question.

Occasionally I see a burl/briarwood cane with a silver overlay over a portion or the bumpy handle.

It is fitted so well that it could have been spray-painted on, but it is (thick(!)) silver and it can go all the way around the handle, but for a few 'windows'! Shaping is always.. 'organic'.

How is this done, please?

Here is an example;

https://www.ebay.com/itm/182762646333?ssPageName=STRK:MESINDXX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1436.l2649
 

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I really wish I knew. I love the look. It would probably take a silversmith to tell you how. Even then you might have a hard time finding one who knows for sure. I don't think that kind of work is done much if at all these days.

Rodney
 

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One way which occurs to me would be to blacken the bit of the handle which you want to show through the silver then wrap a piece of paper around it. When you take the paper away, there will be dark marks where the paper touched the wood. You cut these out and continue the process until it fits the way you want it to, then use that as a stencil to trace the pattern onto a sheet of silver. Cut it out and wrap it around the cane head. If you heat the silver first and allow it to cool slowly, it will be fairly malleable and you can hammer it into place for a snug fit. Solder the place(s) where it joins.

Another possibility would be to skip the paper stencil and just wrap the silver around the cane, give it a few taps with a small hammer to mark where the cutouts should go, then cut them out. Repeat until it fits and tack or solder it into place.

I would imagine that's how this one was done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
One way which occurs to me would be to blacken the bit of the handle which you want to show through the silver then wrap a piece of paper around it. When you take the paper away, there will be dark marks where the paper touched the wood. You cut these out and continue the process until it fits the way you want it to, then use that as a stencil to trace the pattern onto a sheet of silver. Cut it out and wrap it around the cane head. If you heat the silver first and allow it to cool slowly, it will be fairly malleable and you can hammer it into place for a snug fit. Solder the place(s) where it joins.

Another possibility would be to skip the paper stencil and just wrap the silver around the cane, give it a few taps with a small hammer to mark where the cutouts should go, then cut them out. Repeat until it fits and tack or solder it into place.

I would imagine that's how this one was done.
It certainly looks like some construction soldering has become obvious. That does look like the mess low temp solder would make.

Silver solder would scorch, if not burn the wood, but wouldn't get ugly in time.

And the heaviness of the silver 'sheet' seems to preclude simple 'press forming' or even chasing over the bumpy contours of the wood. It would have to be done on a forming anvil, and fitted (lots of metal stretching involved), bit by bit, even if it could be soldered in multiple dimensions against the wood at low enough temperatures to prevent burning wood.

The more intricate ones look 'sprayed on' over the very bumpy wood, and simple methods of 'construction' cannot do that.

Not that I've seen.

Could there be some synthesis between construction and electroforming?

Electroform, burnish, cut/remove, solder on borders and replace, soldering back together?

And I bought almost all the briar sticks on ebay until they 'dried up'...

(I'd love to make a few antiques 'while you wait'!)
 

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Briar has a janka scale hardness of 2,090 which puts it nearer the top end of the scale, so I don't think an anvil would be needed. Not for the entire forming process, at any rate. Silver is the second most malleable metal there is, gold being first. At 1/8 or 1/16 inch thickness, only light hammer blows would be needed to deform it if it has been annealed beforehand. Exactly how thick is the silver on the stick you have in mind?

Wetting the wood would help reduce scorching from soldering, I suppose. Or another possibility occurs to me that after some rough fitting has been done, the silver sheet could be soldered off the stick, leaving the ends open and the whole thing slid up the length of the stick to where it fits, and the rest of the chasing done in place.

I think you may be overthinking this issue; going for a complicated solution rather than the simplest.
 

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Briar has a janka scale hardness of 2,090 which puts it nearer the top end of the scale, so I don't think an anvil would be needed. Not for the entire forming process, at any rate. Silver is the second most malleable metal there is, gold being first. At 1/8 or 1/16 inch thickness, only light hammer blows would be needed to deform it if it has been annealed beforehand. Exactly how thick is the silver on the stick you have in mind?

~~~ 1/8-1/16" is still rather heavy plate.

The metal will stretch as it is deformed/hit. There is no way that a silver 'cup' can be placed over the smaller handle and beaten, lightly or heavily, into a tight, form-fit over the wood.

Wetting the wood would help reduce scorching from soldering, I suppose.

~~~ I think that you might have something there, if soldering is, indeed, needed.

Silver solder is still a high temp solder, though, and I doubt the wet wood, with it's heat sink properties vs the temp of silver solder..

Perhaps the 'plate' is so thin that, with small snippets of solder, a 'flash heat' might do it...

Still, all guess work...

Someone Knows!

Or another possibility occurs to me that after some rough fitting has been done, the silver sheet could be soldered off the stick, leaving the ends open and the whole thing slid up the length of the stick to where it fits, and the rest of the chasing done in place.

~~~ Except the inherent nature of the burl handle precludes the 'slide it up and on thing. Too much 'topography'.

I would guess that a final thing would be the chasing, but that, too, can stretch the metal while compressing...

I think you may be overthinking this issue; going for a complicated solution rather than the simplest.

~~~ That is possible, of course, but considering the time period in which this work was done, and the 'whimsical nature' of the canes to which applied, one would think a 'simple' method was used.

Or not...

Love to know what it was. *__-
 

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"There is no way a silver 'cup' can be placed over the smaller handle and beaten, lightly or heavily, into a tight, form fit over the wood"

"Except the inherent nature of the burl handle precludes the 'slide it up and on thing.' Too much 'topography'"

Why not? If the pre-soldered piece I suggested was shaped like a cone or doorknob, it could be slid up the shank and tapped into a form-fitting shape in place.

When you hit a piece of metal with a hammer, obviously, the spot which is hit will get a bit thinner, especially if there is a solid surface beneath it. But it will also thicken slightly around the area of impact. It's not as though the metal magically disappears when hit; it has to go somewhere. By controlling the direction of the hammer blows, a metalworker can force the metal to go where desired. It isn't as though you were trying to make a 1/16 inch thick plate fit into a crevice several inches deep; it's probably only 3/4" tops.

The "Or not..." still makes me think you are looking for some solution bordering on magic or "aliens." Occam's Razor.
 
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