The Old-fashioned Spinning of a Copper Teakettle

Copper spinning is the process of creating a rounded copper object on a spinning metal lathe. Some factories still employ the use of individual human spinners to shape the copper pieces. Other factories have switched out human spinners for machine-operated spinning machines, which can create more precise and exact results from the metal every time.

I had the opportunity to observe a human copper spinning operator a few days ago as he completed the manufacturing of a copper tea kettle. I was amazed at the skill and techniques that he used to turn a simple copper form into a kettle ready for kitchen use.

The copper piece the operator placed on the lathe already had some previous forming that was completed on a different machine. The operator also had a guiding form for the kettle placed on the lathe to help retain the desired shape of the finished kettle.

The operator used simple shaping tools to gently bend the copper into the desired shape on the lathe. The operator used a guiding fulcrum to control the placement of the shaping tool against the side of the metal to create precise curves and shapes in the copper. Using this system, he was able to make small adjustments to the copper that were nearly unnoticeable at first. Gradually, over a period of several minutes, it was possible to see the shape of the kettle start to take form. The operator worked on the narrowest part of the kettle first, gradually working his way out to the widest part of the kettle. This particular kettle designed used several spun pieces that the company welds together after shaping. After the main body of the kettle was formed into the desired shape, another operator added the handle and spout to the kettle.