Punching Tin

Materials: Scrap wood, flashing, hammer, nail or awl

This is sort of a cheat, because I didn’t have to do anything for this except take my kids to opening weekend at a nearby historical homesite. The festivities included an encampment by the Lebanon (CT) Militia, a group of mid-17th century historical re-enactors. We wandered by the tinsmith’s tent, and he invited the boys to give it a try.

I include this here because it would be so fairly easy to replicate at home. The boys are using hammers, nails, aluminum flashing purchased from any hardware store, and scrap wood to place underneath the flashing. The gentleman told us that the pieces of metal were tin with aluminum coating (tin rusts), and could be found at any hardware store.

After the boys got the hang of using the nail, he let them use some shaped awls–one made a short straight line, so you could make a flower, for instance, by surrounding a nail punch with the lines. V immediately began punching out his initials. N began experimenting with the various shapes, seeing what they could do (and also banging so well that twice he nailed his tin sheet to his wood block!).

It was open-ended and process-oriented, with the fun of hammers on top of it. (G, by the way, was invited to try, with my help, but was a bit too unsure–maybe she’ll try at home.) There are some safety considerations–the edges of the tin, he told us, are sharp, so you don’t want to run your finger along it. The back has pokey-out bits. But certainly kids are capable of working safely with it. The tinsmith showed us a candle screen made with one of these sheets with a design punched out. He’d punched a design out on the sheet, then nailed the bottom (one of the longer edges) to a rectangle of wood that acted as a shelf for the candle (or several smaller candles, I guess). A simple yet pretty way to display a finished piece.

We’re going to put the boys’ punched tin sheets in their windows, after they bring them to school to share about their visit–which also included muskets. And pirates. And playing conkers… what’s not to like about an afternoon like that?

One thought on “Punching Tin

  1. Michelle Hulse

    The girls would love this! I have never seen two little girls who love to hammer more than mine. Ken keeps scraps of wood with nails in them just for them in his shop. Hours of entertainment.

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