A Pewter Fork Succumbs to Bending Stress

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Look ma — no hands!

Uri Geller’s claim to fame is that he can bend a piece of flatware – just by thinking about it!! His website also says he does assorted kinds of important investigative work the government, but it’s so highly confidential he can’t talk about it.

Well I recently did him one better and cleaved this cast pewter serving fork cleanly in half. Okay, I needed the assistance of my right arm to manage it, but I’m fairly scrawny, even for a girl.

Now, please, don’t start in with the jokes about bad cooks in the kitchen and tough, stringy cuts of meat. I was in the process of carving up a tender, store-bought honey-baked ham when I broke the fork in two. At this point, astute engineers will recall that pewter is a finicky material and that pewter alloys are notoriously brittle, especially when cast. And they know that you never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever design in a slender cross section that will be subjected to high bending stress. Though possessing a lovely finish and artistic design–after all, it was purchased at a tony Museum Shop–my fork was sentenced to a premature demise given the poor choice of material and silly geometry. To make a long-lasting serving piece, the makers could have traded off their artsy fartsy design by thickening up the cross section (around about 3X or so) and using a more sensible material like stainless steel. But then it wouldn’t be art, would it?

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1 Comment

  1. Paul Perry
    June 15, 2007 01:07

    Modern pewter is supposed not to contain lead – but it often does, since it is usually made from recycled metal. China and Italy are two countries that have produced leaded pewter recently.
    You might be lucky that fork broke when it did!
    And of course backyard alloying and casting is likely to produce inclusions leadign to easy fracturing..

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