How To Apply Repousse and Chasing To Your Metalworking

How To Apply Repousse and Chasing To Your Metalworking


Traditional repoussé and chasing techniques lend unique texture and dimension to metalworking designs.

Repoussé (French for “to push out”) describes forming contours in sheet metal with dapping punches and other blunt tools and is usually performed on the reverse side of the metal piece. 

Chasing refers to pressing details (lines, dots, textures) into the front of a design with smaller, specially shaped punches.

In both techniques, the hollow metal item is filled with flexible pitch to support the surface while it is being worked.

Pitch bowls are excellent for engraving, chasing and repoussé tasks.

Non-brittle red pitch is extremely easy to work, and it provides firm support for chasing yet is soft enough to allow embossing and repoussé. Its melt temperature is low enough that it can be safely manipulated and shaped by hand. It can be placed in a pitch bowl and heated slowly in a 250°–300°F oven. Red pitch cools more slowly than black varieties, staying soft longer.

Pine resin-based green pitch warms and softens easily with a heat gun or torch to obtain good relief in your design. This variety also firms up nicely for planishing and chasing work. With green pitch, you’ll get great adhesion to the metal while you are working on it, and also an easy release of your metal with just a little heat from a heat gun or torch. When properly warmed or melted, this pitch will give off little or no smoke and odor. It melts consistently at a low temperature without bubbling or puddling, yet cools quickly, minimizing burn risks.

Traditional black pitch requires higher temperatures to make it workable and must be carefully shaped for effective use.