Making Tin Can Toys

by Edward Thatcher 1919


Rim Figure 36 Riveting is one of the most useful operations connected with metal working of all kinds, and it is very frequently used in tin working where it is not advisable to join the metal with solder; or rivet; may be employed in connection with a soldered joint to strengthen it and to prevent the joined pieces from melting off, such as the lugs or handle holders on a pail used for cooking, etc. Riveting is a very simple operation. The rivets are usually made with a flat or rounded head attached to a short cylindrical shaft or shank. A hole punched through each piece of metal to be joined. The pieces of metal are placed together so that holes are in line and a rivet shank slipped through these holes. The head of the rivet is then rest a flat iron or steel anvil and the headless end is hammered over until it forms into a second head thus holds the two pieces of metal tightly together. The pail offers a very simple problem in riveting and it is very easy to make a substantial pail from a tin can.

Making a Pail

Riveting Figure 37 and 38

Select a large, clean, round can of the pail. A one-gallon fruit or vegetable can makes up into a very useful pail. Use a can opener to cut away the remaining tin of the lid but take care not to mar the rim of the can. Rolled rim cans make the best pails. When the lid is cut away a jagged edge usually remains near the rim and this must be trimmed away and the remaining tin hammered down close to the rim. If more than 1/4 inch of the tin of the can lid remains next to the rim of the can it should be trimmed away with the metal shears until a strip of tin remains next to the rim about 1/4 inch wide.

Riveting Figure 39 adn 40

Cutting Away Surplus Tin at the Rim – (A pair of curved metal shears are very useful for making circular cuts of this nature if you have them, but the surplus tin may be trimmed away with the straight shears if small cuts are taken with them.) Cut into the tin next to the rim with the shears¬ - the cut should be made at right angles to the rim and extend in to the rim. Now take a pair of strong flat-nosed pliers and grasp the tin firmly with them the right of the cut and with a quick downward motion of the pliers jaws start to break away the tin to the rim as shown in Fig. 36. The tin will break away at the angle of the lid and the rim and should peel away easily with a series of quick downward movements of the pliers jaws-a fresh grip should be taken for each downward movement of the pliers jaws and the ends of the pliers jaws should be pushed up against the rim each time that they are moved into a new position.

When the tin is trimmed away place the rim of the can on the end of the maple block and use the rounded end of the forming mallet to hammer the tin down tight to the rim, see Fig. 37. The pail is then ready for the lugs or handle-holding pieces at the sides. These are to be soldered and riveted in place.

Forming the Lugs for the Handle

Cut two pieces of tin, each 1 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches, fold over 1/4 inch on each of the long sides of these two pieces, then double over each piece with the folds outside, as shown in Fig. 38. Snip off the corners, then place the lugs on the maple block and punch three holes in about the position shown. See that the holes are slightly larger than the shanks of the rivets to be used, but do not get the holes very much larger than the rivets.

Rivets are supplied by the hardware stores in plain soft black iron and also tinned. The tinned rivets are best for tin work as they may be easily soldered to the work if necessary. These tinned rivets are used for representing faucets, try-cocks, etc., in making tin can toys. Several dozen or a box of No. 14 Tinned Rivets should be purchased.

Making Wire Handle Figure 41 and 42

Riveting the Lugs in Position

Solder the two lugs in position on each side of the top of the pail. These two holes should come below the rim. Place the pail over a round log of wood held in the vise and punch the holes A, B through the tin of the pail, using the holes previously punched in the lugs of the pail as a guide. Remove the log of wood from the vise and place a large piece of round pipe in it for an anvil on which to rivet. Push a rivet through the hole A, and place the pail on the pipe in such a manner that the head of the rivet rests on the iron pipe. Take a small riveting hammer or a small machine hammer and hammer down the small end of the rivet that projects above the work, see Figs. 39 and 40. Hammer rather gently using many light quick blows instead of a few smashing heavy ones. The light blows tend to form a better head on the rivet and to hold the metal more securely in place. After you have had some experience in riveting, you will find that the ball peen, or rounded end of a machine hammer, is better to rivet with than a flat ended hammer. When two rivets are placed in each of the lugs the pail is ready for the handle.

Forming a Wire Handle

Pail handles may be made of 1/8-inch galvanized wire or any piece of strong, stiff wire that is handy. The galvanized wire is best as it will not rust. Cut a piece of wire 14 inches in length. Do not try to cut this wire with your metal snips but use a heavy pair of wire-cutting pliers if you have them. A simple method of cutting wire is to place the wire in he vise and use the corner of a file to cut through it. Trying to cut heavy wire with the metal shears will ruin them; besides, you can't do it. Mark off 1 3/4 inches from each end of the piece of wire you have cut for the handle and bend each end down at right angles from this mark, see Fig. 42, A. This may be easily done by placing the wire in the vise so that the mark for bending is held exactly at the top of the vise jaws, then use a hammer to bend the wire over at right angles, see Fig. 41.

Place the wire over the pipe held in the vise and use a wooden mallet to round it over to the form shown in Fig. 42, B. Slip the ends of the wire handle through the holes punched for it in the lugs on the pail and then turn the wire up at the ends with a heavy pair of pliers until it looks as shown in Fig. 42, C, and the pail is completed. If the pail described above is made of a rolled rim can it may be safely used for camp cooking, as there is no danger that it will melt apart over the fire. When a spout and a lid are added to the pail, it will serve as an excellent coffee pot. A coffee pot and other cooking utensils are shown in Fig. 95.