60-Second Silver: Aluminum tape fixes worn threads

Over the years, weighted silver candlestick and candelabra threaded inserts can become worn, allowing them to continue rotating in the corresponding sockets without properly “catching.” Redefining these threads properly can be quite costly, since the pitch that is used as a reinforcing cement must be removed before pushing out the threads from inside with special tools.

In most cases, you can repair the insert threads yourself, allowing them to fully engage the corresponding socket threads. Go to your local hardware store or furnace and duct supplier and ask for aluminum tape. This is aluminum foil with an extremely sticky backing. Take the section with the worn threads and cut a piece of aluminum tape the same width as the threaded section. Remove the backing and wrap the aluminum around the threaded insert and cut it as close as possible to meet with the other edge. It’s better to be a little undersize than have to overlap the seam. Next, use finger pressure to massage the foil securely onto the insert.

Finish the job by using your fingernail to trace the threads around the circumference of the insert, making them more distinct.

Gently screw the insert into the socket, testing how it “sits” without wobbling. If there is still substantial play in the socket, allowing the insert to continue spinning, wrap it with another layer of tape as described above. ?

Jeffrey Herman encourages anyone with silver-related questions that can’t be answered on his Web site hermansilver.com to contact him. He may be reached at 800-339-0417or jeff@hermansilver.com or at PO Box 786, West Warwick, RI 02893.

Jeffrey Herman started Herman Silver Restoration & Conservation in 1984, and has repaired and reconstructed everything from historically important tankards, tea services, and tureens to disposal-damaged flatware. Herman has worked at Gorham as a designer, sample maker, and technical illustrator and at Pilz Ltd., where he learned the fine art of restoration. Herman has a BFA degree in silversmithing and is the founder of the Society of American Silversmiths.

Read more of Jeffrey Herman’s 60-Second Silver columns.

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