More Metalworking Techniques and Making a Steel Bird

Due to an impossible urge to make things, I've done another project that utilizes some more simple metalworking techniques, and uses the ones that I discussed in my two previous Instructables, found below:

So, in this instructable I will show you how to rivet two pieces of metal together (an instructable already exists, but this isn't my focus) and how to give metal a decorative hammered texture. Also, my design might get your head whirling about how to make simple 3D shapes using 2D materials, keeping your project simple but still looking elegant.

I hope you enjoy reading.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Things are made of Stuff. Therefore, Stuff is needed to make Things. Lets get started:


- 22 gauge sheet steel
- A rivet

Safety Gear:

- Gloves
- Goggles
- Ear protection


- Anvil
- Ball-pein Hammer
- Needle-nose pliers (the kind without teeth are best)
- Heavy duty cutters
- Blowtorch
- Drill
- Bit the diameter of your rivet
- Tin snips
- Vice
- Tape
- Scissors
- A nail, thumb tack or other scoring tool

You can see the main tools below. The ball-pein hammer is very important since we will need the ball side a lot for this project. The tin snips could be replaced with a fine-toothed jigsaw.

As always, you can improvise your tool selection, but we need to work the metal while its cold, so keep that in mind.

On to the next step: Our Pattern!
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elvanhoose5 months ago

What were the dimensions for your template?

mattthegamer463 (author)  elvanhoose5 months ago

the bird is around 5" long

I have been a watcher and not a doer for too long so I gave this a go with what I had available. I only had some old galvanised sheetmetal from some old roof flashings.

I tried doing some colouring using my new Butane torch but it did not work. I will have to get some sheet metal I can colour.

Bird Trial 1.jpgBird Trial.jpg
mattthegamer463 (author)  jock_the_kiwi3 years ago
As a public safety announcement, you shouldn't try to colour galvanized steel as it releases toxins when the zinc coating burns off.

Great job!
mattthegamer463 (author) 4 years ago
Wow, I'm really glad to see people being inspired by my work!  Honestly, really really great work. 

Galvanized steel is coated with a thin layer of zinc, which is why it was not affected by the blowtorch.  I hope you had fun and learned a bunch along the way though. :)

Thanks again!
Galvanized steel gives off highly toxic fumes when heated I think you should make readers aware of this
ChrysN5 years ago
Nice, you have quite a talent for this, do you sell any of your work?
mattthegamer463 (author)  ChrysN5 years ago
I most certainly would if I had a venue. Right now I just make stuff as presents for my girlfriend, but her house is getting cluttered up so selling this stuff is a very good idea. Are you asking because you want to buy? I should speak with the local arts group and see how and where they sell their stuff.
Try or
setting up an online store may not be a bad idea; or just selling through an online market such as ebay.
mattthegamer463 (author)  karossii5 years ago
I could certainly try. I will have to make a bunch of stuff specifically for selling though, and that will take a while.
caseycan4 years ago
I decided to make this for my girlfriend for the holidays and it turned out great! I spot-welded the wings on instead of using a rivet.
thoraxe5 years ago
a cross-peen hammer could be used instead of a ball-peen to creat more feather like patterns
mattthegamer463 (author)  thoraxe5 years ago
Definitely, but keeping them relatively straight might be difficult. It would be a good alternative, and if you did it right I think it might look even better. The ball-peen is just a little safer because you can't hit wrong with a sphere.
pfred25 years ago
In step 4 a lead shot filled leather bag or wooden forms may be more suitable than paper towels taped to anvils. In step 7 When I trim rivets I trim them flat. Makes the head I shape come up much better formed. Really I can't imagine trying to shape a rivet that was snipped. Well after looking at your picture maybe now I can! I mean how can you deflect on the edges when they are sloped? Anyway ... I usually just use common soft iron nails too, which work well for me. Now I have to find this instructable you mention that focuses on riveting. So I can add it to the pages I've already read on the subject.
mattthegamer463 (author)  pfred25 years ago
The rivet Instructable:

You're right about the paper towel not being the best thing, it shredded pretty bad by the time I was done. However, I also tried using my wooden workbench for the hammering and it didn't give me the cushioning I wanted. Next time I'm going to use a folded square of cloth that I think will stand up to the abuse longer, and if that fails, leather.

Thanks for the comment though. In regard to trimming rivets, this is just what I did. You're right about the edges being sloped, and thats why I hammer the rivet with the flat end first, to spread it out a bit. Once it starts looking like its got the head of a nail on it, then I can start shaping it into the finished dome. I've never tried using soft nails as a rivet, but I have this big bin of actual rivets so I don't think I need to.
lemonie5 years ago
It showed up in the end... Nice job! L
mattthegamer463 (author)  lemonie5 years ago
Yep... just took a while. :)
And featured, quite right. L
colin3535 years ago
It's amazing!