Lead working sticks are hand tools used to shape and form a number of different sheet metals including copper and aluminium. However, as their name suggests, they are usually used with sheet lead, the softest and most malleable of the common metals.
Because of this, lead is the material we will be focusing on, although the instructions given about how to use these tools could also be applied to other types of sheet metal.
Lead working is carried out using a range of differently shaped lead working sticks, such as lead dressers (also known as dressing sticks) and bossing sticks. Although these tools are quite similar in appearance, their faces are shaped differently which makes them suitable for various sheet metal working tasks. For more information, see What are the different types of lead working stick?
There are a number of different lead working techniques including lead bossing and lead dressing. Dressing usually involves flattening the lead and smoothing any imperfections, whilst bossing is the traditional method of forming shapes and details in the sheet metal.
These methods are most commonly employed by roofers who shape lead for roofing applications such as the installation of chimney flashing.
Flashing is installed around chimneys to prevent water from penetrating the joints between the roof of a building and the bottom of the chimney. Flashings are usually out of sheet metals such as lead or zinc.
Other tools, like a chase wedge may also be used to fit weathering into position. However, the larger working surface of dressing and bossing sticks mean that they can be used for a larger variety of tasks as they can shape and move lead more effectively.