These tools are handmade from wood and steel. Some are used for spinning pewter on a lathe. In the process the craftsman works the metal over a chuck or form. Other tools are used for centering or cutting the pewter.
These are examples of tooling, called "chucks", turned from solid steel. Each one is a specific shape corresponding to a particular design. Mounted on the lathe, they serve as templates for the final piece.
A carefully made disk of pewter is centered on the lathe and lubricated with a special recipe of spinner's soap to reduce friction. Utilizing a spinning tool called a spinner's finger--so called because it is flat on one side and rounded on the other, resembling a finger--the craftsman firmly presses the pewter over the chuck in a series of passes. Pace is a critical element in the process of spinning pewter. If the spinner works to quickly or too slowly the metal can become fatigued and break. Great care, training, and skill is required to become a master spinner.
A number of Danforth designs, including pear vases and oil lamps, require additional steps to create their distinctive shapes. There is an even greater level of skill and technique required here, which makes the pieces of these design groups uncommon and prized.
To finish the pewter, successive grades of sanding cloth are used. The surface of the piece is smoothed inside and out to achieve the distinctive uniform satin finish for which Danforth Pewterers is known.
Our porringers, baby cups, and candlesticks combine spun and cast pieces. These designs are carefully worked to ensure the pieces are a perfect fit.
Danforth holloware is signed and bears the Danforth lion touchmark. In colonial time, this mark was the craftman's seal of quality and originality, as well as his signature. Our touchmark is based on the "lion rampant" used by Thomas Danforth II, circa 1775, and includes the name of our shop and the town where we are located. Note: You may own or come upon a piece of Danforth Pewter that has our touchmark which says 'Lincoln, Vermont'. This means that the piece was made in our Lincoln workshop between the years 1978-1988.
Today, each piece of pewter holloware is handcrafted in the Danforth workshop in Middlebury, Vermont.