How to Reshape Pewter Pieces

This sugar bowl is made from pewter; if an arm happens to bend, it is easily fixed.
This sugar bowl is made from pewter; if an arm happens to bend, it is easily fixed. (Image: pewter sugar bowl image by hazel proudlove from Fotolia.com)

Pewter is a very soft, malleable alloy, which is a metal that has been created by mixing two or more metals. It has a lovely, clear shine comparable to silver's, and can be used and shaped for purposes ranging from jewelry to dinnerware. Most modern pewter items use a lead-free mixture of tin, copper and antimony; it does not tarnish quickly and is safe for handling. Because they're so malleable, pewter items can sometimes get misshapen or bent. But they're fairly easy to reshape if you take care not to break them.

Things You'll Need

  • Pliers
  • Dremel rotary tool
  • Metallic file
  • Safety goggles
  • Breathing mask

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Bend the misshapen piece back to its original shape by hand. This often works if the piece is thin. Move the misshapen piece slowly, and do not be overly worried if there is a light, crackling feeling beneath your fingers as you do this. Do not bend too much or too often; the metal will start to feel brittle, which is a sign that it may break. You should be able to feel the difference between acceptable motion and that brittle motion and sound that indicate impending breakage. When in doubt, seek out a jeweler or metalsmith.

If the piece was too big or unwieldy to move by hand, use a pair of pliers. The pliers will allow you to move thicker pieces of pewter. Again, move the misshapen piece slowly, and be aware of the feel and sound that the pewter is making as it moves. Too much movement can result in breakage.

If no amount of bending works to reshape your pewter piece, use a regular, metallic file or a handheld Dremel rotary tool to modify the piece. Use a safety breathing mask as well as safety goggles. Do not attempt to file or grind the pewter in an enclosed area, and avoid inhaling or stepping on shavings. This option will damage the finish and/or the design of your pewter object. In some cases, filing can help smooth the pewter, but any detail you filed over will be lost.

If none of these options works well for you, or you are uncomfortable attempting them yourself, take your pewter piece to a jeweler or metalsmith. He will be able to safely heat and reshape your pewter piece.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not attempt to heat or melt pewter in your home. Seek the advice or services of a metalsmith or other professional.

References

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