Sterling Silver Furniture

Discussion in 'The Gun Builder's Bench' started by Eterry, Feb 8, 2019.

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  1. Feb 8, 2019 #1

    Eterry

    Eterry

    Eterry

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    A dear friend wants to build his final muzzleloader. I have mixed feelings about this, but its his decision.

    He wants to use Silver furniture, possibly get it engraved. He doesn't want German nickle on brass, but Sterling.

    Where would one locate buttplate, sideplate, trigger guard, thimbles, etc from Sterling, probably plated...I cant imagine using pure silver.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Feb 8, 2019 #2

    dave_person

    dave_person

    dave_person

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    Hi,
    Originally, silver hardware was cast or shaped by hammer. You can find thumb and side plates that are cast from silver but not the other hardware. Silver does not make particularly good butt plates or trigger guards because it is soft, even Sterling. I have an original English fowler with sterling hardware and it is all scratched, dented and worn more than would be typical of brass. Sterling also tarnishes quickly because of the copper content. I am not sure that modern silver plating would look very good but you might see if common cast brass hardware could be plated. Otherwise, you likely would have to make your own hardware. There are foundries that could cast hardware in silver if you provide a model. It won't be cheap.

    dave
     
  3. Feb 8, 2019 #3

    Comfortably_Numb

    Comfortably_Numb

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    I have sand cast mounts from old pre '64 coins. Works fine and wears well.
     
  4. Feb 8, 2019 #4

    Pete G

    Pete G

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    If you are going to plate the hardware use german silver for the base, otherwise cast the pieces in coin silver.
     
  5. Feb 8, 2019 #5

    dave_person

    dave_person

    dave_person

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    Hi,
    Coin silver at best is 90% silver and 10% copper if from the US, and as low as 80% silver and the rest copper or some other metal if from other countries. It is harder than Sterling and would be better for trigger guards and butt plates but it will tarnish faster.

    dave
     
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  6. Feb 12, 2019 #6

    tenngun

    tenngun

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    I was going to point out silver mounted rifles tended to be real silver. Should the builder want to go with silver to be his final rifle it may be worth it to get silver at the cost that will come with it.
    I recall some star but I can’t remember who that had several last shows. With hope this will just be the first of dozens of last rifles.
     
  7. Feb 12, 2019 #7

    necchi

    necchi

    necchi

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    Tell him he'll be sad if he does.
    Silver IS real pretty,, but it tarnishes--quickly, and tarnished silver isn't as pretty as polished silver.
    Tarnished Silver does have a unique look, but un-tended tarnish turns to rust (oxidized silver). When that happens you have to take a lot off to get back to silver.
    People use hired help to polish the silver. You have to polish it before it's put away,, then you have to polish it before you use it,, and don't forget to polish the silver between the time it's put away and the time you use it.(twice)
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  8. Feb 12, 2019 #8

    Zonie

    Zonie

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    Silver reacts strongly with sulfur and will tarnish quickly if sulfur vapor is in the area.

    Cooked egg yolks and black powder both have an abundance of this.

    Guess what happens to the silver in short order when black powder is fired in a silver mounted muzzleloader. Right.
    The nice looking, bright silver inlays or other furniture almost instantly looses its brilliance and becomes a gray, dull looking part.

    My advice is to use German Silver (which isn't silver at all). It's nickle gives it the silver look and it doesn't tarnish easily.
     
  9. Feb 12, 2019 #9

    dave_person

    dave_person

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    Hi,
    Unless the silver is right near the flash of the pan or at the muzzle, it won't tarnish that fast and a little wiping with a rag containing a tiny bit of simichrome polish every few months solves any tarnishing. I would not, use silver for a muzzlecap. I have a silver mounted English fowler made in 1767 and the sterling silver butt plate, trigger guard, sideplate, thumb plate, and ramrod pipes are tarnished a bit but still pretty. The silver and steel mounted English fowler and English rifle I built are bright and shiny after much use but I do wipe the silver once a year with a rag and simichrome polish. Below are pictures of them:

    dave
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  10. Feb 12, 2019 #10

    54ball

    54ball

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    I saw a set of silver mounts at a show. If I remember right, they cost about 800 bucks for a TG and BP. I have seen highly figured stock blank priced at way way more than a grand .....a person can spend what they want to spend.
    But....nothing looks like silver but silver. Nothing looks like fine sugar maple but fine sugar maple.
     
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  11. Feb 12, 2019 #11

    necchi

    necchi

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    Lol, :p.
    That's a term that could be under contention by different individuals.
    "Much use" could be 1 Rendezvous and a weekend invite for hunting.
    Or, 600 rounds during `vous season along with loaded and in the field through regular and primitive season several times each week for 2 months.
     
  12. Feb 12, 2019 #12

    medbill

    medbill

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    What kind of or school of gun does he want you to build? Years ago I purchased a set of Jaeger furniture in sterling silver. I will try to find the name of the builder I bought it from. I remember he used sterling a lot in his builds. I would think once you figure out the type of gun you want to build it would be a matter of finding someone to cast up the parts for you in sterling. It looks beautiful when done right. Mine came out so good its never been to the range or in the field. lol
     
  13. Feb 12, 2019 #13

    dave_person

    dave_person

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    Hi,
    The second gun I showed is an English fowler and currently is my primary woods walk gun since it was finished. I used it in 4 woods walks and I've fired at least 350 rounds through it since July 2018. I shot over 600 rounds through the little English rifle and used it in at least 6 woods walks since Fall 2016. Despite the fowler winning best of show at Dixon's in 2018 and the rifle winning best of master class at Dixon's in 2017, they are the two guns I used the most over the last two years because they shoot so well. They look as nice today as when they were made. The silver just needs a little care because it does tarnish after a while.

    dave
     
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  14. Feb 13, 2019 #14

    Eterry

    Eterry

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    Dave, that is an OUTSTANDING silver mounted Fowler. IIRC, Ken said German Silver is hard if not impossible to engrave, and he wants it heavily engraved.
    On the ones you built where did you get your mountings?
     
  15. Feb 13, 2019 #15

    Comfortably_Numb

    Comfortably_Numb

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    German silver is no more difficult to engrave than brass is.
     
  16. Feb 13, 2019 #16

    dave_person

    dave_person

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    Hi,
    The trigger guards and butt plates were steel castings but had to be modified greatly to work on the guns. All of the decorative silver inlays, including the side plates, were made by me. They were carved in green carving wax, wood, or duplicated an original inlay, cast and then carved with die sinkers chisels. The photos below show some of that process.
    dave
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    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
  17. Feb 15, 2019 #17

    Kevin Houlihan

    Kevin Houlihan

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    I sand cast a sterling silver forend tip for a rifle 25 years ago. The stock was finished with Permalyn and the forend tip is as bright and shiny as the day the gun was finished. That rifle got a lot of use. I shot that rifle in matches 12 months a year for 10+ years.
    Kevin
     

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