5 pm, Monday afternoon. Silvio hammers into shape the silver band that will be the central part of a snake bracelet he his making for a local customer. “When you say work in progress, this is it,” says Silvio. “I have been reinventing this design every time I work on it. It has become a sort of challenge to myself… a challenge to keep me humble,” he looks up and laughs.
Those of you who have had a chance to visit with Silvio recognize his sense of humor. He’ll be working at his bench, explaining a process or the story behind a particular stone as he sets it on a ring, serious, focused, until he suddenly looks up and with a grin on his face as he shares a play on words or a remark about a funny aspect of his work.
What do you call the tool you are using to shape the bracelet? I asked. “That is a mandrel,” he replied.
A mandrel is a metal rod around which materials such as metal may be shaped, usually by beating them with a hammer or mallet. By comparison, an anvil is a heavy block of iron or steel with a flat top on which metals are shaped by hammering.
The mandrel Silvio uses to shape bracelets is oval, whereas other mandrels are round, such as those used to shape rings and bangles, and some are square. The round one belonged to his grand-father.
“This one,” explained Silvio, “Is used to shape spoons. A different hammer is used depending on what it is that you are shaping and the sort of shape you want to get.”
Thus, “hammer” it is for our next Workbench topic…