Metal comes in many forms. Generally though you can treat it as either thick or thin.

Thin metal

e.g. bottle tops, cans, wire, bike spokes.

You can manipulate thin pieces of metal relatively easily:

Cutting: use a hacksaw

Folding: use a pair of pliers

Sheering: use a chisel or shears (large scissors)

Hole making: a blunt nail will punch the metal. This is useful for making axles. Clean holes, or a series of holes, can be made made with a edge sharpened nail (a nail sharpened with a chisel). You make larger holes by making a small, punched hole in the right place then using a larger nail to enlarge it.

Bending and flattening : Hammering metal makes it change shape. To make an accurate, even bend, score the metal first. The place it overhanging the edge of something hard and hammer it. Even wood can be used to bend metal round, although, it will bend quicker if you put it on a harder surface and use a hard hammer.

A sharpened nail will pierce and push the metal back, useful for gripping it.

Bottle tops are a useful source of thin metal but those with corrugated edges need careful work.

Thin metal can be joined in various ways:


Sewing (make holes as above and tie it with thread, string or a leather thong).

Punched join, a sharpened nail pierces the two pieces together and the metal from the top piece is hammered over to make a folded joint. This can be repeated many times to make a strong joint.

Soldering: you will need a soldering iron and appropriate solder and flux.


Thick metal

e.g. nails, coins, reinforcing rods, blacksmiths metal.

Thick metal will usually need holding in some way to keep it steady as you work on it. Nails can be hammered into a piece of wood the nails can be worked then the wood split for removal.

Nails are soft metal, easy to bend, file and cut. However even a nail will become harder with hammering or tempering.

Coins are made of different metals, some are very hard. For these, making a hole without a hardened drill or punch is often not possible. Softer coins can be punched out with time. Cutting can be done by wedging the coin in a slot.

A good quality hardened chisel can be used to cut even thick metal slowly.

The local blacksmith will have many techniques for handling thicker metal, softening with heat and the hardening after working by putting in water.

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