Making Tin Can Toys
by Edward Thatcher 1919
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Making a Biscuit Cutter from a Small Tin Can
A biscuit cutter is about the simplest thin that may be made from a tin can. It is an excellent thing to begin with as it is so simple and involve three very essential operations in the tin can work cutting the can to size, forming the handle, ad lastly, soldering (see Plate VII, a). Select a good bright, clean can about 20 inch in diameter; a baking powder can or a small soup can will do. Tin cans are usually made up in two ways. One method is to solder on flanged ends, such as condensed or evaporated milk cans, and the other method is to roll the edges of the can together at each en using no solder.
When looked at closely, the two different types of can are easily told apart. A rolled rim can should be used for the biscuit cutter as it is stronger than the can with the soldered ends. Cutting the Can to Size for Biscuit Cutter - The biscuit cutter should be about 3/4 inch deep at the cutting edge. Set the dividers to this dimension and proceed to scribe a line around the can parallel to the base and 3/4 inch above the rolled rim of the bottom. This simple scribing operation is described in Chapter I.
Punching a Hole in Tin - A hole should be punched in the top of the biscuit cutter to admit air, as the biscuit dough is apt to stick in the cutter by the vacuum formed unless an air vent is provided. A small hole about 1/8 inch in diameter will do, but a series of such holes may be punched in if desired. A punch may be filed up from a wire nail or a regular punch or nail set may be used. The biscuit cutter is placed over the end of a block of wood held in a vise as shown in Fig. 9, in such a manner that the top of the cutter rests directly on the wood. The punch is placed in the center of the cutter, care being taken to see that the wooden block supports the tin directly under the punch, and then the punch is struck lightly with the hammer until it cuts through the tin.
It may be well to try the punch on a scrap of tin to test it. A clean round hole should result. The punch cuts out a tiny disk of tin and drives it into the wood. The end grain of a wooden block should always be used for punching on. If a nail is used for a punch, the original point should be filed away. Nail points are usually made in the form of a square pyramid and if these points are driven into a piece of tin a jagged hole will result; such a hole may be used for making a grater for the kitchen, but all other holes should be round and smooth. To file up a nail for a punch proceed as follows: Place the nail vertically in the vise jaws so that the point projects slightly above the jaws. File the point entirely away until you are filing the entire diameter of the nail and squarely across it.
Then reduce the diameter of the nail at the end you have been filing by filing smoothly around it as shown at A, Fig. 10. See that the edge B is clean and sharp and the nail punch is ready for use. The nail used for a punch should always be somewhat larger in diameter than the punching point, as this will provide for a stronger punch and one not likely to bend. Regular punches are usually ma: much thicker in the body than at the point, as may be easily seen by looking at one. If desired, punches may easily be made from nails to cut round, square or triangular holes.
It is much better to purchase a regular punch or punches for punching round holes, as these may be purchased for 10 or 15 cents at almost any hardware 50and-10 cent store. Several different sizes will prove useful, 1/16, 1/8, 8/16 inches in diameter being the most used sizes. As these punches are made of hardened steel they hold their edges for a long time, but nails are made of a fairly soft steel and when used as punches have to be frequently filed sharp.