Making Tin Can Toys

by Edward Thatcher 1919

Making a Biscuit Cutter from a Small Tin Can Part 2

Forming the Handle - After the hole is punched in the top of the biscuit cutter, a suitable handle is the next thing to be made. This handle may be made from the piece of tin cut away when cutting down the can for the biscuit cutter. Cut away any rough or jagged edges and then place this piece of tin on the bench or a flat anvil surface and flatten it out with light mallet strokes. Heavy strokes with a mallet will dent the tin.

Block Vise

Trim away all rough edges including the rolled edge at the top and square up the piece of tin as described on Chapter II. Mark off a strip of tin 1 1/4 inches in width and 4 inches long. Cut this strip out and be sure that it is square at the ends. Open the dividers and set the divider points 1/4 inch apart and scribe a line 1/4 inch inside each of the long sides of the strip. The edges of the strip of tin thus marked off must be turned or folded in so that the edges of the handle will be strengthened and will not cut the hand. These edges may be folded over with a mallet or by the use of a folding machine. The mallet should be used for this first folding operation; the folding machine and its use will be described further along in the book Chapter XI.

Hammer Mallet

To fold the edges over with the mallet, proceed; as follows: Secure a block of hard wood, maple preferred, the block to be about 3 inches square and 6 inches in length. See to it that the block is cut cleanly and squarely across so that the edges at the end are sharp and at right angles. A maple block of this sort may usually be picked up at any lumber yard or carpenter shop, or a maple log may be secured from the wood pile and trimmed up square. One end of the block may be used to punch on.

The block is held in the vise as illustrated in Fig. II and the tin to be folded is held on the block in such a manner that the line marking the folding over the edge of the block. Use either a light wooden mallet or the special forming mallet, and with light blows proceed to bend down at the edge and up to the line as illustrated in Fig. II, a. Begin at one end and work along the line to the other end of the strip of tin. Do not try to turn the tin down at a right angle at once or in one place and then proceed to turn it down at another, but rather hammer lightly along the whole length at the marking line, turning the tin down at a slight angle from the line to the edge and then going back and starting to hammer where you began, turning the tin down at a greater angle and so on until you have turned the edge at right angles as shown in Fig. II, b. Always bend tin over very gently and evenly, never forcing it violently into place.

Reverse the strip of tin on the block so that the part just folded stands vertically at the edge of the block as shown in Fig. 12. Hammer the edge of the tin gently over so that it folds back on itself as shown by the dotted line in Fig. 12. Do not hammer the tin down hard at the folded edge so that it becomes thin and sharp though doubled. It should be rounded over so as to give a rounded edge. A rounded fold is much stronger than a sharp thin one. When one edge is completely folded over, fold down the other in the same manner, so that both edges of the handle for the biscuit cutter appear as in Fig. 13.

Tin Sugar Scoop

When you have successfully turned or fold over the edges to your satisfaction, then proceed t give the whole handle a semicircular form. Place a large round wooden mallet or a piece of 1 or 2-inch pipe in the vise to use as a form over which to round the handle. The folded part should be inside or next the mallet or pipe form shown in Fig; 14. Press the tin down to the form with the palm of the hand so as to round it into shape; it may be completely formed into shape by this method or the rounded end of the special forming mallet may be used to hammer it into shape if the tin should kink during the bending. The mallet blows should be directed toward the center of the strip so as not to thin the edges too much. Round the handle over until the ends rest inside the rolled rim of the can or biscuit cutter and you are ready to solder the handle in place. As the soldering is the most important part of the tin work the next two chapters are devoted to it.

The Sugar Scoop - A useful sugar or flour scoop may be easily made from a small or large can in exactly the same manner as the biscuit cutter, except that the can is cut off slanting instead of square, Fig. 15. The edges of the scoop should not be turned or folded but should be left as cut so as .to form a sharp cutting edge that will easily enter sugar or flour. The handle is shaped in exactly the same manner as that of the biscuit cutter.