Making Tin Can Toys
by Edward Thatcher 1919
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Make Cookie Cutter
Cookie cutters of any simple design may easily be made from strips and pieces of tin cut from cans. They may be made to stamp out any simple design from the cake dough, such as flowers, leaves, trees, animals, boats, various insignia, etc. When making the design for a cookie cutter, remember that raisins, currants, pieces of citron, nuts, etc., may be added to the cookies after stamping them out and used to accentuate the design, as eyes of animals, fruit on trees, etc.
First draw the design on paper exactly the same size you wish the cookie to be and be sure to use a very simple outline, taking care not to introduce too many intricate bends and to remember that a strip of tin must be bent to follow the outline of the drawing. Also remember that cake dough is not of very tough material and will easily break if cut in too narrow a strip in any place or part of the design. Do not try to make too realistic a design but rather one that suggests the desired object. The pine or Christmas tree design is a very simple one to make.
Pine Tree Design Cookie Cutter
First draw the pine tree on paper, taking care to have both sides of the tree alike, Fig. 20. A very simple method of obtaining this result is to fold the paper exactly in half open the paper out flat again and draw one-half of the tree, using the folded line as the center of the tree and using a soft pencil to draw with. Fold the paper together again using the same fold line; place the folded paper on a hard surface and rub the paper over the drawing with the bowl of a spoon so that the design is transferred to the other half of the paper, so that when the paper is un folded the design will and both sides of the design will be completed and both sides of the design will be alike.
Cutting Narrow Strips of Tin
When you have a satisfactory design drawn, cut open a large can so that when the tin from the can is flattened out you may cut from it a strip long enough to bend around and conform to your design and have only one joint. Be sure to trim up one edge of the tin to a straight: line before starting to mark off a strip 1/2 inch in width, using the dividers for the marking operation as shown in Chapter II, page 35. Be sure to cut your strip as straight as possible and of exactly the same width for its entire length.
Bending to Shape Over Design
When the strip is cut, bring the ends of the strip together and press the bend in to form an angle. This angle will not only form the top of the tree but will mark the center of the strip as well. Bend the strip apart until it conforms to the design on paper from the top of the tree to the first bend on one side as shown in Fig. 21. Mark the strip of tin at A. A. Take the flat-nosed pliers and bend the tin in on each side to conform to the line B. Let the ends of the strip go past each other as shown in Fig. 21, 2, and in the illustration of bending. Next bend both ends of the strip at C. C. and so on until the complete outline of the tree drawn on paper is followed by the strip of tin. The various steps in the bending are shown in Fig. 21, 1 to 6. The joint at the bottom of the design should overlap about 1/4 inch.
This joint may be held together with the flat nosed pliers and soldered. Take care to have the ends that are to be soldered square with the rest of the design so that when the cutting strip is placed flat down on the cutting board all the cutting edges will touch evenly and cut well. When you have the ends of the cutting strip soldered together, cut out a rectangular piece of tin somewhat larger than the design, at least 1/4 inch larger in every direction. See that this piece of tin is perfectly flat and free from wrinkles. Look carefully at the cutting strip and see that it conforms closely to the design and then lay it in the center of the rectangular piece of tin. Secure a thin piece of wood slightly larger than the design. Wood from a packing box will do. This strip of wood is held in place on top of the cutting strip in order to hold it when soldering the strip to keep it perfectly flat, and to prevent burning the fingers. The cutting strip gets very hot when it is being soldered in place.
Soldering Cookie Cutters Together
See that your soldering copper is well heated and tinned; apply soldering paste to the entire joint where the cutting strip rests on the flat piece of tin and then apply the solder carefully in the usual manner with the hot soldering copper. It will be found comparatively easy to apply solder to the longer parts of the strip, such as those forming the sides of the tree, but do not attempt to solder in the narrow crevice or crevices formed between the tree foliage, the trunk, and the top. Solder only where it is easy to introduce the point of the soldering copper, then apply solder inside that part of the design forming the tree trunk FIG. 22. as illustrated in Fig. 23 by the dark lines. The cutting strip need not be soldered to the flat piece of tin forming the back in every small crevice that is not convenient to the soldering copper. But it must be soldered in such a way as to prevent the cutting strip from bending out of shape when used for cutting. So, if you may not solder it outside, solder it inside.
Be sure and hold the cutting strip firmly down to the flat tin with a flat piece of wood when soldering. If the soldering does not go along well, stop and read over Chapters IV and V on soldering. Take plenty of time and make a good job of it. When the cutting strip is firmly soldered to the tin, trim away the edges until they appear as shown in Plate VIII. Do not try to follow every indentation in the design but cut to the general smooth shape indicated which leaves no sharp corners. The edges of the tin forming the back of the cutter may be smoothed over with a small piece of fine emery cloth or fine sand-paper. Rubbing the edges gently with the emery cloth will dull them so that they are less apt to cut the fingers. This applies only to the flat piece of tin forming the back or top of the cutter, for the edges of the cutting strip should be left sharp. Punch two or more holes through the back of the cookie cutter to form air vents as you did when making the biscuit cutter.
Cookie Cutter Handle
A handle may be made for the cookie cutter in exactly the same way as the handle made for the biscuit cutter. A strip of tin 1 1/4 inches wide and 4 inches long, is about the right size for the handle. The edges are folded in and the strip is rounded over an anvil and soldered into place as indicated in the photograph. The edges of the handle should rest directly over the cutting strip under it. When finished, the cookie cutter should be boiled up in the lye bath or washed with hot water and, strong soap and then it is ready for use.