Flattening Warped Pans

Joined Feb 13, 2008
The subject frequently comes up...

You (yes, you!) can flatten warped pans. 

The technique is to heat them up, put a 2x4 long enough to go from edge to edge of the pan on to the crowned side, and beat the heck out of it -- all over it's entire length, while revolving it so the entire pan surface gets its share of whacking. 

If the pan is warped so the crown is on the outside, you have to rest the lip of the pan on a flat surface, so that the handle doesn't touch the surface; a stair step is good.  If the pan is warped so the crown is inside, you have to cut the 2x4 to fit -- as closely as you can but without making a big deal out of it. 

Just keep reheating the pan and keep on whacking 'til you get bored.  The flattening will hold longer if you do both the inside and outside, but you can get most of the goodness if you only flattened the crowned side.

You can get pans very flat this way, but the pan metal will not only develop a warp "memory," but fatigue as well from the warping and straightening.  Straightened pans will warp more easily than those which were never warped.  At some point, the whole process gets old and the pans will need to be replaced.

Hope this helps,

Joined Oct 10, 2005

Most places I've worked in, had a stack of beat up pots and pans, and  cement filled tubular steel parking barriers.  I usually supplied the hammer and manpower.

As you say, BDL, you can beat the warp out, but it always comes back.  Same with the rivets, you can beat them, peen them I guess, but the rivets are soft aluminum which will spread and fatigue, and eventually you'll get a loosey-goosey handle all over again. 

Try, just try, I double doggie-dare ya, to convince an owner to buy new cookware that doesn't warp.......
Joined Feb 12, 2011
I'm having a hard time visualizing this.

Lets say my pan is warped concave so that it rocks around like bowl on the stovetop. I would cut the wood so that it fits inside the pan, flip it upside down and pound with a hammer.
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Joined Jul 11, 2011
Nope.  Flip the pan bottom up (crowned surface is now facing up) with the pan edges flush on a flat surface.  Lay a 2 x 4 on top of the bottom of the pan (which is now facing up) and whack it.  The 2 x 4 rests on top of the crowned surface.  In your example, the crowned surface is on the outside of the pan, not the inside, so the 2 x 4 goes on top of the bottom of the pan after you have flipped it over.
Joined Feb 12, 2011
I see now. That makes perfect sense. I'm afraid that my example might be good for making your pan into a steel drum!
Joined Jan 19, 2016
This does work - but it depends on what you are wanting to achieve. If you would like to have an adventure into the world of panel beating or feel like a blacksmith of the dark ages, then it is a great idea to make flat (True) a pan. If you would just like a flat pan, buy one, seriously. 

When working metal from the inside and out, you will cause stretching of the metal. Most probably you will end up with a bow or dishing in the surface - as you beat the metal it stretches by tiny amounts each strike. It's an absolute profession to flatten the tray and not cause this.

Also, it depends a lot on the striking devise you use, most people will end up with an old hammer which will give you a series of dents and lumps. A panel hammer is the best option, you should have a suitable surface on which to beat upon which most of us do not. Marking, caused by using a copper or steel hammer it nigh on impossible to remove. A good weighted Nylon hammer is your best bet for people starting their blacksmith careers.

So, as you can tell, my pan now looks great and has a series of lumps, bumps and humps all through it. I absolutely loved the journey and completed it with a panel beater friend offering advise as required....which was all the time...and it still looks rubbish. But fun!

Good luck!

(PS - my second attempt went much better)
Joined Aug 4, 2000
I just buy a replacement.  And now since I'm using blue/black/carbon steel pans for baking, the problem hasn't cropped up.  NnnnYYYYYYYYYaaaaaaaaa.

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