Introduction: Copper Hummingbird
Hi, I’m a 15 year old kid who likes to work with wood and metal. This Instructable is for making a bird from copper sheet. This is a fun project, and the skills used here can be applied to many other things. This is my first Instructable, so if you have any tips or critiques please share them in the comments below. I am also happy to answer any questions you may have.
Step 1: Tools and Supplies
- Copper sheet metal
- A cross pein hammer (I used a rock hammer, but I used it in the same way as a cross pein hammer, so that’s what I’m going to call it, if you only have a regular hammer you can use one of the ends of a crowbar to get the same effect)
- A few chisels (it can be hard to find small enough chisels for intricate work, so I bought a few 1/4 inch chisels from my local hardware store and then filed them smaller)
- A metal punch for marking holes
- A drill
- A torch (I used a bernzomatic ts4000)
- Super glue
- Piece of wood to mount the finished piece on
- Small nails (I think brass nails look the best in contrast to the copper)
- Wood oil (optional, but i think it really adds to the finished product)
- Tin snips
- A small file ( you can see me using bigger files, but that’s only because I don’t have any smaller ones)
- A glue stick
- A jewelers block, or a mini anvil (just a small block of steel or something, so that you have something to hammer on)
- Something to cut a metal rod (I used a hack saw)
- Something to cut wood
- A few different grit pieces of sandpaper (I used 400, 600, and 1500)
- pliers (or something else to hold the metal with while its hot)
Step 2: The Design
You can either find an image that you like online, or draw one, for this project I ended up finding one online.
If you end up drawing one it’s best to copy it in the printer so that later on the lines of your drawing won’t start to fade or smudge when your chasing in the design. Another benefit of copying your design after you draw it is that you can resize it to whatever size you want.
Step 3: Cutting Out the Piece of Metal
After printing out your chosen design, cut it out with scissors and then glue it on to your copper with a glue stick. After that you can start cutting along the outline with some tin snips. It can be hard to cut more intricate parts with the snips, so you can just do a rough outline because you’ll end up cleaning it up with a file later on. After cutting the design out you might need to glue back down some of the edges of the paper that lifted up when you were cutting.
Step 4: Chasing the Design
Chasing refers to using tools like chisels to creat a design on a piece of metal. To do this, make a series of small indents with your chisel, overlapping each time and following your design. I usually start with the longer straighter lines and then do the more intricate parts. I used a chisel that’s around an 1/8 of an inch for the majority of this piece, and then used my smallest chisel (about 1/16 of an inch) for parts like the eye or the lines around the feet of the bird. While I was chiseling the design for the beak, the paper came off. If this happens to you you could glue it back on, or you could just free hand a line across like I did.
Chasing is something that is hard to explain without watching the process. If you look up metal chasing online there are quite a few videos that further show the process if you are interested.
Step 5: Annealing the Metal
If you don’t know, annealing refers to the process of heating up the metal until it’s soft and easily pliable. To do this, put your metal (paper side down so the paper doesn’t start burning and then fly up into your face) on a brick or something similar and then use your torch to heat up the metal until it’s a dull red. Then use pliers to pick it up and dunk it in some water to cool it off. After it’s cool you can clean the metal with some sand paper to see how your design looks. If any of the lines look choppy you can go over them again with the chisel.
Step 6: Adding Texture
I hammered along the edge of the wing and tail using the flat end of my cross pein hammer to create texture marks. To do the marks by the neck of the bird I angled my chisel so it would make a really small mark and then made a bunch of marks following the line I had previously chased in.
Step 7: The Feet
For the feet, I marked and drilled two holes, and then went in with a file to clean everything up.
I accidentally filed the left foot too much and it lost its point, so be carful of that.
Step 8: Filing All the Edges
Now go over all the edges cleaning everything up and making it look nice. For the wings and the tail I used a triangular file to make slight cuts that define the tips of the feathers more.
Step 9: Making It Pop Out
To make the bird pop out from the piece of wood that it will be mounted on I soldered on a large piece of copper rod to the back of the bird leaving it quite long, because I’m going to cut it to size later. To solder it together use sand paper to scratch up the wire and the back of the bird, apply flux to both pieces, and then heat them up with the blowtorch. After that apply solder to the joint (don’t directly heat it with the torch, touch the solder to the copper and let the copper melt it) After this step you might want to further polish your piece by wet sanding with some finer wet/dry sand paper.
Step 10: The Wood
Next, get your piece of wood and cut it to size using whatever method you prefer. I cut mine smaller than the size of the bird so that the bird would stand out more. After cutting, sand the piece until the edges are slightly rounded over and the surface is nice and smooth.
I burn the wood I use for two reasons.
1: it protects the wood
2: It creates a nice dark color which contrasts well with metals like copper or brass.
To burn the wood take it over to your torch and go over the whole piece. Then sand it down so that the wood still has that dark color but doesn’t have a thin layer of charcoal on top. Then to finish it off I apply some wood oil to it with a cloth.
After burning the wood cut the rod attached to the bird to the length that you want. Position the bird on the wood and work out where you need to drill the hole in the wood. Once you’ve worked that out mark it and then drill it (don’t go all the way though just go down about half the thickness of your piece of wood) I used a scrap piece of wood and the part of the rod that I just cut off to figure out what size hole to drill.
Step 11: Hanger on the Back
Use your tin snips to cut out a thin strip of metal, file the edges to make it smooth and then mark and drill a hole at each end. The holes should be big enough so that whatever nail you are using can fit through them. After drilling the holes file them to get the burrs off and then bend the piece into the shape you want it. Finally attach it to the back of your piece of wood. (Make sure the orientation is correct)
Step 12: Final Assembly
Shape the bird into a position you like just using your hands, and then put a small dot of super glue into the hole in the wood (The fit between the wire and the hole should already be snug so you shouldn’t need much). Push the rod into the hole, and if any excess glue seeps out wipe it away (I have found that a q-tip works well for this).
Done! I had fun making this project, and I hope that you all can follow what I’ve done or take inspiration from it. These handmade art pieces are worth the time you put into them, and they make great gifts!
Participated in the