Introduction: How to Make a Metal Snowflake

About: Collaborative workspace with digital and traditional fabrication tools, 3D printers, CNC machines, classes, events, and professional consulting services.

Are you tired of all the snow melting?

Tired of trying to keep the cold season's snow from melting, by storing it in the freezer?

Do you want your freezer space back?

Why not make a Snowflake out of METAL!

Step 1: Select Your Metal

Purchase and select your metal by type and thickness.

For this Snowflake, 1/8" Aluminum was used.

Step 2: Transfer the Design to Your Metal

Print out the template above on paper, or make your own!

You can also use the template provided by NextFab staff.

If using a paper template, cut out a square or circle around the Snowflake, trying to cut as close as possible to the outside of the Snowflake's lines.

Use a glue stick to glue the back side of the paper to your metal.

If using an acrylic template, use an extra-fine permanent marker or metal scribe to follow the contours and trace the design onto your metal.

Step 3: Prepare for Cutting

Your Snowflake should now have easy to follow lines on your Metal.

Step 4: Cut Out Your Snowflake's Shape

Now that you have transferred your design to the Metal, you now need to cut out the overall shape.

You can use one or a combination of tools:

  • Band Saw
  • Jig Saw with a Coarse tooth Bi-Metal Blade
  • Hacksaw
  • Abrasive Metal Rotary Cutting Tool (such as a Dremel or Die Grinder)

If you are using a Band Saw, be sure to select the proper speed setting based on your metal's thickness and type.

Step 5: Removing the Material in Between the Arms

Use your preferred cutting method, you now need to remove the excess material in-between the arms and fingers of your Snowflake.

This process takes some time and patience. If using a Band Saw, try cutting all the way down to the inside corner first, and cut on either side to allow some room for more access for the Band Saw blade.

A series of notches along the lines of the arm can help with removing difficult to reach material, it will look like a series of small triangles or trapezoids. Then just cut along the lines, removing the small notches of metal.

Step 6: Finish the Rough Cut

Once you have removed as much material as you can from the Arms and Fingers of your Snowflake. You are almost finished!

Step 7: Clean Up the Lines, De-Burr and Apply a Finish.

Using a series of files and a sander, you will need to clean up the edges of the metal along all the lines.

A combination of a Half-Round file and a Flat Bastard file work well. Use these to remove the rough finish left from the cutting steps, and to clean up any extra material left behind.

After you have cleaned up the contours and lines, you will need to remove any sharp edges and burrs. Files and a De-Burr tool work best for this.

For removing the sharp corners, you can use a file, but a Belt Sander or a small 3" Pneumatic Sander work best.

Step 8: Apply a Finish Your Snowflake

Now that your Snowflake is no longer bearing sharp corners, the next step is to apply a finish to your Snowflake.

Some different ideas or techniques for finishes are:

  • Painting
  • Orbital Palm Sanding
  • Scotch-Brite (either powered or by hand)
  • Wire Brush (powered or by hand)
  • Sanding disc on a grinder

Step 9: Enjoy Your Long Lasting Metal Snowflake!

Rejoice in the fact your Snowflake will endure the coming season's weather!

Happy Holidays!