Process

Copper Cookware

We create your copper cookware from scratch after researching the original shapes and designs of American copper cookware makers from the 1800’s. After sketching (usually on a napkin), the designs become a computerized file with the help of our product designer. Those designs can then be 3-D printed for initial prototyping before the files go to separate fabricators.

The handle designs are sent to the foundry in California, where the tool & die makers create cope and drag plates (or patterns) that will go on the processing machines. Each set of ductile iron handles for the copper cookware is poured by hand, cooled, and then shipped to us in Wisconsin. Once we receive the handles, we grind, sand, and polish them in the shop before drilling the holes in them.

The other design, the copper cookware body, is sent to Ohio, where the fabricators will create, from scratch, a steel tool that will fit on the CNC machines. The copper itself is bought in Houston, shipped to Ohio, cut into circles with water, and then spun on the tool with a hand-operated CNC machine. The person who is spinning the copper has to watch. Take it off too soon and the copper is soft and can collapse. Wait too long, and the copper hardens too much and cracks.

Those copper bodies are also sent up to us in Wisconsin, where we pre-polish and drill them. Then we rivet the handles onto the bodies with our hand-held rivet gun and start the tinning process.

Tinning requires a lot of fire, flux, sticks of pure tin, face masks and shields as well as lots of gloves, water, sawdust, and lime paste. Suffice to say that after we put everything together, your copper cookware has a nice tin lining that will last 12-15 years with every day use and proper care.

Another round of polishing leaves your copper cookware ready to go out the door and into your kitchen.

Ironware

Back in the 1800’s (and earlier), all cast iron was made with grey iron. Ductile iron wasn’t around until about the 1950’s and the additional grades and cast steel wasn’t available either. Your prized Griswolds? Made of grey iron. Nothing fancy, nothing crazy, just a bunch of iron melted together at a forge and poured into a mold.

Our skillets (and copper pot handles) are sketched by us, then translated in to a CAD design by an amazing product designer. We send off for plastic prototypes, make tweaks, and make more prototypes.  From there, the tool & die maker takes the final CAD and creates the pattern.   Foundries each use a specific type of processing machine, so the pattern-maker needs to create the product mold on the appropriate sized and fitted aluminum plate. The pattern has “gating” which is where the metal is poured and “blown” in.

Our skillets are made of pig, rail and recycled iron. This is melted together in gigantic furnaces during the ‘charge’ at 2800 degrees before being tapped out, the impurities removed, and transferred to the guy doing the pouring on a B&P automatic processing machine.  Two people are needed to hand set the patterns in and hand-pour the skillets, but the machine itself cuts down the labor. The original pouring process used to take anywhere from 4 to 6 people or more.

By the time the cooling metal makes its way off the belt, the pieces fall out of the burnt sand (this is what makes a few inches of black dust along a foundry floor) and are pulled out. After they’re cooled, usually overnight, the gating can be broken off and ground down before being put in a wheelabrator. Pieces are inspected, refinished if needed, and then we drive up in the truck and trailer and drive them home.

From there, we hand-sand them and start the fires and dry off the skillets and sealing them once for the raw-oiled skillets. If we are creating seasoned cast iron skillets, we’ll heat the fire up to over 600F and apply 6-8 coats of organic flaxseed oil. In the end, we have a slick, black finish that’s pure, simple and easy.