Step 1: Getting Started: Tools and Materials.
Permanent marker (red shows up nicely)
Small nails (2 or 3 are needed)
Awl or ice pick
Staples 3/8 inch (10 mm)...these staples are used in a staple gun. Office staples are too thin. About 40 are needed.
Pliers - needle nose and regular
Clamps About 3 or 4 are needed.
Silicone sealer. One small tube is needed.
Spray paint. One can of your color choice is sufficient.
Wire coat hanger. Use a thin-wire coat hanger as it is easier to cut and shape. One is needed.
Tall cans 7 inches (178 mm) tall, 4 1/4 inches (108 mm) in diameter. These cans typically contain fruit juice. Four of these tall cans are needed.
Short cans 2 1/4 inches (57 mm) tall, 4 inches (101 mm) in diameter. These cans typically contain chicken or tuna. Four of these short cans are needed. Ensure that the short cans fit inside the tall cans, as these serve as removable bowls that fit inside the feeder. All cans should have the tops removed and the bottoms in place. Remove paper labels from the cans and wash thoroughly to remove food residue from the inside and glue from the outside. Dry the cleaned cans immediately.
Step 2: Cut-line Layout on Tall Cans.
Take a slip of paper (I used the back side of an unneeded sales receipt ) and measure 5 inches ( 127 mm) from the short edge and with a pencil draw a line across the slip of paper as shown in the photo. We will use it as a flexible ruler to draw the horizontal cut-lines on the can.
Place the short edge of the paper along the seam and align the long edge of the paper so that it is 2 3/8 inch (60 mm) from the bottom of the can, using the points you made earlier on the can as a guide. Wrap the slip of paper around the can and make a mark at the 5 inch (127 mm) line. Now you can draw a horizontal line connecting all of the marks you made on the can. Return to the seam and repeat this procedure on the other side of the seam. You should now have 2 horizontal cut-lines, 5 inches (127 mm) long on either side of the seam and both should be 2 3/8 inch (60 mm) from the bottom.
Now return to the seam and draw a vertical line along the seam from the top of the can to the horizontal cut-lines. You should now have 3 cut-lines, as shown in the photo. Follow this procedure for the remaining three tall cans.
Step 3: Cutting the Tall Cans.
SAFETY: Please use gloves from this point on when cutting and handling the cut cans. The cut edges are very thin and sharp! The final steps involve covering the cut edges with silicone sealer so that the feeder can be safely handled and used.
Using the hacksaw, cut along the horizontal cut-lines as seen in the photo. Next use the tin snips to cut along the vertical cut-line starting from the top down to the horizontal cut-lines.
Now take the cut can and slowly and carefully spread out the side sections, hereafter known as the "wings". At this point the wings are easily bent if handled too roughly so take time to work carefully. The wings don't need to be spread out flat but just enough so that we can fasten the wings of one can to those of another can.
Step 4: Fastening the Tall Cans Together.
The cans are held together with staples. My staple gun was not powerful enough, nor were the staples to pierce the tin cans. I instead used small nails and a hammer to punch holes through the two tin layers. I then inserted the staples and bent the ends over with pliers.
To start, take two cans and line up the wings and hold them together with clamps. Then lay the clamped wings on top of a block of wood. Starting in a corner, place the nail about 3/8 inches (10 mm) from the edge and tap lightly with the hammer to create a small dent. Strike the second time with enough force to pierce both layers of tin with just the tip of the nail to create a small hole. Use the awl to enlargen any hole that seems too small. Then lay a staple next to the punched hole so that one leg of the staple is lined up with the punched hole, as shown in the photo. Use the marker to mark a point on the can where the second hole is to be punched, using the staple as a guide. Using the technique previously described, make a second hole. Insert the staple into the punched holes and bend the ends of the staple over with pliers. You will need one staple along the top edge, in the corner, four staples along the side edge and four staples along the bottom edge of the joined wings. Only fasten about 3/4 of the entire bottom edge starting from the corner. You will need to readjust the clamps as you punch holes along the wings. As seen in the photos, I punched the holes first and then inserted the staples. I now think it best not to do it that way because I had alignment difficulties when I tried to insert the staples. The edges of the wings shifted, ever so slightly, when I readjusted the clamps. Instead punch the two holes as described, insert and fasten the staple, then proceed with the next two holes. The can stability is much improved this way and it makes the job easier.
Once you have the wings fastened, take the third can and fasten its wing to the second can. Then attach the wing of the fourth can to the third can. Finally attach the wing of the fourth can to the first can to unite everything together. The last photo in this section shows the fastened wings. If your fastening job doesn't look as neat as you would have like it to, don't fret, it will be covered up by the silicone sealer at the very end of the project. You will also notice in the photo that the bottoms of the cans do not sit entirely on the bench top. This is due to the tops of the cans bowing outward because they are not fastened together. We will fasten the tops in the next step.
Step 5: Fastening the Tops of the Tall Cans.
Starting with one wire end, clip it to about 4 inches (100 mm) long and wrap it over the top of the partition and down the backside. Use pliers to crimp the wire as close to the partition wall as possible. Then wrap the wire end around the horizontal part of the wire three times and face the wire end downward as seen in photo 5. Do the same to the other wire end. Take care when wrapping the wire over the partition backs as the tin could rip right where the wire passes through the hole. Photo 6 shows the partition tops wired together.
Step 6: Forming the Wire Hook.
Take the remaining wire and, using pliers, form a loop at the end. Twist the wire ends so that the loop will remain in place as seen in photo 1. Using pliers, form a hook at the opposite end as seen in photo 2. The finished hook is shown in photo 3.
Step 7: Finishing the Feeder.
Step 8: Will They Like It???
That was the question in the back of my mind when I finished the project. There was only one way to find out. I fitted the small cans into the feeder and filled them with cat food. I called the hungry cats out for their mid-day meal...and they liked it!!! ......at least three of them did, that is. One was definitely not interested at all. She may not have liked the smell of the new paint or the two-toned color scheme...not sure what was so objectionable. With time I am sure that she will be won over and will post a final photo of everyone enjoying their Hungry Cat Tin Can Feeder.