Reclaim Scrap Metal - Recycling Drinks Cans

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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 Comments

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!


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!

American Girl dolls?

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 OnMyCreativeSide.wordpress.com)

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