Reclaim Scrap Metal - Recycling Drinks Cans





Introduction: Reclaim Scrap Metal - Recycling Drinks Cans

Buying metal sheet can be an expensive business. Everyday millions upon millions of metal resources are thrown away and in the case of aluminium cans they are generally recycled.

However, thin aluminium sheets are very useful and we do not collect and use this resource enough.

This Instructable will help you understand how you can easily and safely process metal cans to produce quality and repeatable sheets.

WARNING: cut metal sheet can have very sharp edges. We recommend that you wear gloves, take your time and do not process cans with young children around.

Step 1: Collect Empty Drinks Cans and Drain and Wash Them Out

You need drinks cans to complete this instructable. They can be found in many places cafes, outside shops, recycling banks and of course you own supply from your icy beverages.

When collecting cans you need to ensure that the cans are in good conditions. Ensure that it is not dented, scratched or pierced.

You will need to drain the contents and briefly wash the cans out.

Step 2: Using Sharp Scissors Pierce Can

So this step is the most important. You want to cut into the can as efficiently as possible to ensure that the top cut is as clean and straight as possible. My recommendation is to cut a centimeter into the can just before the rim bends over. Use your scissors and nip the end together so that it goes through the can. It may take a couple of attempts to get this right but practice makes the final result almost perfect.

Step 3: Cut Can Through Piercing and Remove Top

Slide a scissor arm slightly into the opening and then cut around the top of the can as if you were cutting paper. Take your time and use steady movements.

Step 4: Pierce and Remove Bottom of Can

Now that the top has come off cut down the side of the can to the bottom rim. From the bottom of this cut angle your scissors so that you can use the same technique as the top to remove the bottom.

Step 5: Stack Reclaimed Aluminium Sheet for Later Use

You will now have a sheet of aluminium that you can store and reuse at a later date. You can see from our photos that we collect and process our cans on a regular basis.

We plan on making dragon scales with our metal sheets and covering a sculpture that we have planned. The lightweight sheets will flutter in the wind. Please check back in the future for an Instructable on our dragon.

2 People Made This Project!


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48 Discussions

You can watch Matthew McConaughey make stuff out of beer cans during his interview on the first few episodes of True Detective, season one.

I've been experimenting with capacitive switches for some electronic projects. This could be a perfect material for that. Thanks for the inspiration.

Nice Instructable. Makes it easy to use that huge abundance of free aluminium sheet.

Thank you.

the possibilities for items made from recycled aluminum cans are endless, in the past I have covered a card table top, an old trunk, a big round cardboard icecream container-these make really cute trashcans- and I went from using old license plates to aluminum cans to cover bird house roofs. Currently I am making earrings and butterflies!

5 replies

I know someone who drinks Foster beer; big, thick cans. I've been wanting to use them for this aluminum shingle method. For use on sheds, shelters.

Sounds like a great excuse to hold beer parties to collect enough cans to roof the shed. :)

Yes! Birdhouse roofs. I recently built a gigantic doll house (dolls are 18" tall) and the house stood over 84" tall. I could have used this idea if I had known about it!

Yes! Also there are quite a few lines of dolls in the 18" market: American Girl, Today Girl, Journey Girl, Madame Alexander, My Twinn, Our Generation, KidKraft Sadie, Gotz and Disney Princess... even a few more generics. (You can see it on my blog

Looked for the dolls but only saw furniture and plants.......

Actually, scissors do a much faster an cleaner work, I tried both. The worst result is obtained with cutting pliers (to short, makes a lot of dents and it's awfully slow).

Its plausible... I am thinking for a little eco-friendly cabin in the woods, or a playhouse structure... and as he said, shingles for a dog house. Careful about putting down the ideas of others. This is a website about challenging folks and getting them to think "outside of the box".

3 replies

thanks for commenting on that . there will always be people like that .. maybe some day that person will find themselves in a position to use my idea and regret what he said ... u never know where you may end up !!

Wow, lighten up guys. First of all, I'm all for recycling and building stuff where it makes sense, but this... Cutting up cans that you can get a dime for each can? That seriously makes sense to you guys. And an instructable is needed to tell people how to cut up a can? And where did I say that third world countries are bad...

And when exactly did it become inappropriate to express non-positive opinions...

I'm just glad I don't live next to anyone who shingles with pop-cans.

This is the text under the comment section: "We have a be nice comment policy. Please be positive and constructive."

And not all states have dime CRVs, in fact, currently there are only 10. And my state and the one just next door are in that 40 that DON'T. So the only option I have is metal recycling (which I do) but it doesn't cost me anything to use aluminum from cans.

So be nice. There are plenty of sites for you to go and be mean. Just don't do it here. Please?

Thanx alot for this wonderful innovations. keep it up dear!

firefly1112, awesome, never knew that about Foster cans, will check into the heavier gauge cans, thanx for telling that!

really ? even though I could most likely buy your entire life i still enjoy making things myself .... I enjoy the challenge and feeling of accomplishment... Also theres nothing wrong with third world nations ... mostly they are in that economic situation due to greedy corporations and the government officials stealing the profit off of natural recources. maybe someday when you grow up youll realize you get better results in life putting out positivity. take care buddy I hope you do well in life seriously.