Aug 272010

The last post was really just a teaser with brief definitions and photos. Now let’s look a little further and try to get a handle on some of the tools and terms associated with raising.

Basic definitions

(we will expand on these as we go along)

Raising: forming metal over (or on) a stake (of some sort) using a hammer to compress and stretch the metal.

Stake: a solid object (can be various material) with varying curvatures.

Course: one complete pass of hammering while raising.

Synclastic: forging metal along two curves at right angles to one another and moving in the same direction. (bowl)

Anticlastic: forging metal along two curves which are moving in opposite directions. (pringle)

Annealing: heating metal to increase its flexibility (annealing article here)


I thought a little sketch might help clarify the curvatures for us. These sketches are reproductions of ones found in the book Form Emphasis. (I considered taking a photo of the page and then decided that went too far into copyright issues…so my crude sketches will have to do.)

anticlasitc and synclastic forms

anticlastic and synclastic sketch

Alternate imagery is sometimes helpful.

jewelry making anticlastic example


A saddle is anticlast as it curves in two opposing directions.

One curve goes ‘down’

One curve goes ‘up’

think of the long line as a curvature that follows the horses body, it would wrap around the horses ‘trunk’. The other, shorter, line creates a space for the riders bottom.

As an abstract – it can hold something from the top and from the bottom


Alternately, a synclast shape, in its basic form, only holds from one direction.

synclastic diagram for jewelry making


all of the curves move in the same direction.

either ‘up’

or if the bowl were flipped, all curves would move ‘down’

Don’t be fooled by imposters!

The following image is neither synclast or anticlast.

only one curve!

Why? Because there is only one curve.

To become anticlast, the two points on the straight line/plane would need to move down.

To become synclast, the two points on the straight line/plane would need to move up.

The Tools I Use


Stakes for Jewelry Tutorial Metalsmithing Raising


These are fairly simple stakes. The metal ones having only one curvature on each end. Typical sinusoidal stakes have a series of curves on one stake.

Surprisingly, there is a lot of variation in forming that can be done on these.

Stakes 1 and 2 are metal and would be used with a nylon or delrin hammer.

Stakes 3 and 4 are delrin and would be used with a metal hammer.

Never use a metal hammer on a metal stake as it would mar and pinch the metal too much.

A delrin hammer is not used on a delrin stake as both materials are going to ‘give’ a little and therefore the force of the hammer blow is going to be diffused too much. You will waste a lot of energy hammering for very little movement of metal.


jewelry raising hammers


Here I have two metal ‘raising’ hammers and one hammer that is made of delrin.

Technically, the metal hammers are sold as ‘bordering’ hammers. I have two because they have different sized heads.

Hammers used for raising typically have profiles longer than they are wide.

The other tool is a vise. I use a regular vise bolted to my workbench although alternatives could be a GRS system that has a holding mechanism or some stake sets may come with their own holder.

One problem that can occur  with a regular vise is slippage of the stake in the vise while hammering.

I combat that problem by making a hammock for my stakes. Basically it is a hanger made of brass sheet that overlaps the top of the vise jaws.

Here is how I make mine:

Estimate how much you need to hang over the top of the vise jaw. Place that much of the sheet of brass down into the vise. Bend and mallet down.

Remove sheet from vise and place stake at the bend. Mark the depth of your stake.

Bend that second line, bringing the first fold UP. Now you have a little ledge for your stake to sit on.

Bend again at the end of the stake, bringing the bottom ledge up the other side of the stake.

Next, mark a line at the top of the stake, while it is on the ledge.

You will fold DOWN, away from the stake at this line.

Now you have a little hammock for your stake. This will help give the stake something to rest on and keep it from moving down while you hammer!

I normally place this entire packet back into the vise, tighten the vise up, and mallet down the top edges. This confirms all the folds so they stay put.

You can also conform the top of the flaps to the top of your vise jaws.

When you take the ‘hammock’ out of the vise, trim and sand so you don’t inadvertently cut yourself!

Next time we’ll move on to the actual forming process!




  12 Responses to “Raising Part II – terms and tools”

  1. Janice, this is great!

    Great photos, sketches (yes, your sketches are great!), descriptions!

    I love the stake hammock, I hadn’t thought of that one.

    Thank you for all this hard work and energy!

    And I like your pink duct tape.

  2. You are one amazingly talented woman! Great drawings and info.

  3. This is very good and understandable (at least to me). Are you going to show how to use the stakes? I hope to be doing this type of work in my intermediate metalsmithing class. In the beginning one, we did raise a bowl.

    • Hi Gloria! Thanks for the feedback, its really helpful to me to know if I’m making sense at all!

      I plan on taking some photos this weekend and getting some more text written for the next installment which will show me hammering and the stages the metal goes through. I hope to have it posted in the early part of next week. 🙂

  4. Love your drawings and photos, very clear. Also great explanation on which hammers and why. Really looking forward to more information. Please make some recommendations on stakes and what each type will do. The two you show are very different.

  5. Hey, Janice! Awesome post and very timely for me – you seem to read my mind often!! I’ve been studying up on raising and I’m SERIOUSLY jonesing for a metal sinusoidal stake!!! Can’t wait to see the rest of the series!

  6. very clear and it is finally making sense to me.

  7. This is an excellent article – thanks Janice!

  8. I have been working with copper holloware for many years and it’s always difficult to find the right tools.
    Wondering where you got those stakes and hammers; I only seem to find the basic ones and need other shapes and sizes; also looking for smaller raising hammers.

    • Hi Carol, So sorry your post has sat for so long. We have so many spammers here and I had fallen behind in moderating. I purchased my stakes from a workshop. The hammers though came from contenti. They are always adding more stakes and hammers – do check them out!