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Sep 26, 2013 01:36 PM

Is it possible to have the handles on a pot changed?

Im asking this because I see copper cookware I would jump for in a second, but am instantly turned off when I see brass handles. Its getting tiring waiting for that perfect sized extra forte copper rondeau/casserole only to be put down by brass handles. I would be overjoyed if someone could remove the brass handles and attach cast iron handles for me. Im probably being overly picky but if im going to drop a lot of money, I want to love my pan rather than wish something was different.

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  1. Hi, PZ:

    The answer is yes, it's possible. As with most things, it's a function of time and money.

    But before we get to details, why (other than aesthetics) do you want cast iron handles on a rondeau? As you've discovered, brass loops are standard even on 1-st quality pieces. The overweening reason is there's no functional benefit to cast iron; the loops are going to get hot in short order whether on the stovetop or in the oven. My "new" Gaillard 4mmx36cm rondeau is the nicest piece I've ever come across, and it's handles are brass.

    Plan A: The good news is that a good foundry can make you copies of your existing brass handles. You'd drill out the rivets, take them the handles, and have them make iron copies. An advantage of this route is that the flanges will match the curvature of your piece and you won't have to drill new holes. Then you re-rivet and retin, but you may have to find separate metal fab and retinning shops to do those steps.

    Plan B: Go with pre-made iron handles, either scavenged off a derelict pan or a standard new size. These rarely fit perfectly, and you'd likely have to drill new rivet holes and patch the old ones. This either "adds character" or "ruins the pan", depending on your perspective.

    I have gone the "A" route in both brass and iron. The iron job was adding a 4-rivet helper loop onto a 2-gallon saucepan, so there was no duplicating a brass piece. Luckily for me, the price ended up being only $50, but that was $50 *additional* over some pricey repair/retinning work. Mind you, the shop drilled *new* holes in the pan to match the handle, and they were going to retin anyway, so the price was lower than you will probably find to duplicate, switch out, patch and retin.

    My project was done by Hammersmith/Brooklyn Copper Cookware in NYC. Their current business status is unclear, see: but it might be worth calling them in any event. If you can't reach Mac, ask for Jeff. I *can* vouch for their excellent work, and if they're still in business, they should be able to do everything in-shop. If they're OOB, I would find an artisan foundry to make your loops, and then send everything to Peter at Rocky Mountain Retinning; he knows how to rivet in addition to being one of the best at retinning.

    I hope this helps,

    PS: As an afterthought, if it's merely a matter of aesthetics--matching your other pans, perhaps--you can blacken brass handles chemically. They also tend to blacken on their own if you stop polishing them.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kaleokahu

      Thanks Kaleo,

      I like cast iron handles as they dont get hot as quick as brass. Plus, I would like some unity among my pieces. I have other copper pieces, all Gaillard, and all with cast iron handles. Like many others, I use my copper pieces as both functional and ornamental pieces. All I can think is that the brass handles wouldn't belong. Good to know that I can change the handles. Though now I am kicking myself as I let a nice thick 3.5mm Matfer get away last month, only because I did not like the handles. As for the retinning aspect, I actually saw a post of yours in which you silvered a pot. How does it cook? Would you recommend it? Maybe finally I can rest easy with others cooking in the kitchen. As of now, everyone in my household knows the copper is off limits.

      1. re: PrinceZuko

        Hi, PZ:

        To each his own. I actually share your preference for cast iron handles on everything, but like you, I tired of waiting for the perfect rondeau with iron handles. As I'm sure you've noticed, the same thing happens with gratins, roasting pans, Pommes Annas, and anything that spends time in the oven. I'm now habituated to having some brass handles.

        You are correct that brass heats faster than iron. For me the question is *how* much faster that happens with the loop handles we're talking about. It would be interesting to measure that. Maybe you should replace *one* handle at first, and measure the difference, but I think the window of time when a brass loop would be hot and the opposite iron one touchable would be short.

        Re: silvering... The rondeau cooks wonderfully, thanks, but I'm not sure the silver is any *cooking* improvement over tin. Yes, at least so far, I'd recommend it, if for no other reason than heat >450F doesn't cause worry.

        It's too early to tell about how 15 microns of silver compares in durability to a thick wipe of tin (And how long would it take to know for sure when I never use metal utensils?). But I think I may just go ahead and silver a skillet, a couple sautes and a small roaster just for peace of mind.


        PS: Wahine used to be afraid to touch any of my copper, but she's gaining confidence and pays attention. Last night, in fact, she boiled me some Pel'Meni in a Gaillard Windsor which is quickly becoming her favorite pan.

    2. Beware that cast iron handles are much more likely to break than are brass handles.

      1 Reply
      1. re: kagemusha49

        I am well aware of that but I haven't had any problems with any of my cast iron pieces so far. If my handles break, its probably because of carelessness and I would probably deserve it.

      2. There are people on that would be able to make your new handles, and as Kaleo has said you can send your pans to Peter at Rocky Mountain Retinning.