The Thanksgiving table isn’t complete without the utensils used to stuff our faces with all the turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, and buttery corn that our hearts (and stomachs) desire. And we’ve all got that one set of silverware that we save for special occasions like this. Whether it’s handed down from older generations or a splurge we only take out a few times a year, silverware can be beautiful. But how does our silverware get from the initial factory design to our family dinner table? Let’s explore how silverware is made.
Typically, silverware is made from stainless steel or sterling silver. The production process begins with flat blanks of either of these metals as large rolls are stamped in the blanks. The blanks are then rolled into the correct shape and thickness according to the manufacturing pattern.
Between operations, the silverware pieces will pass through annealing ovens to allow the metal to soften. This allows them to be more easily shaped through the machine operations as well as helps them to be more resistant to bends, knicks, and scrapes when they’re completed. The rolled blanks are then put into a cutout press to cut the outline. Once the shape of the piece has been cut out, the access metal is then melted and then formed back into sheets of metal to be reused.
Next, they form the pattern using hardened steel dies which are set in hammers by die setters. An operator will place a piece of silverware under the drop hammer which will strike the piece with a pressure of 200 tons. The metal is formed to every piece of ornamentation in the die and then any surplus metal is removed by clipping presses.
After this, there are different processes for creating individual pieces of silverware. For example, the knife is made with two strips of metal soldered together. The bowl of the spoon is formed using the drop hammer to create a rounded shape. And the fork is pierced and tined after the outline is cut. No matter what style of silverware you prefer, it’s part of what makes these holiday meals feel a little more special.