Introduction: Love and Marriage (hand Tools Only)

About: I like building things mainly from wood or metal. Especially if they look complicated to make, then I like to think about how to make it. And I love it when the result looks good.

We love eachother very much, so I wanted to make something that looks romantic and that symbolises our love for eachother. The ideas slowly develloped before and during the project and you can see the end result on the photos.

I made the project only with hand tools, because I like hand tools and I would like to show in this project that we can do quite a lot with hand tools only.

Of course using hand tools makes the project last a bit longer, but I enjoy the process of making, so time is not that important. Hand tools build my skill level and it can be a good workout to use them, so I do not have to go to a gym. Also they do not make a lot of noise, which makes hearing protection usually not required. And my favorite reason to use hand tools is that the saw dust just drops down on the floor, while power tools spread the dust everywhere and I do not like cleaning the garage.


Materials used:

  • Aluminum sheet 20x30 cm, thickness 0.5 mm
  • Copper tube, 22 mm diameter, length just a few cm
  • Oak 20x40 cm, thickness 18 mm
  • Wooden stick of 18x18 mm square
  • Thin strip of wood
  • Glue
  • Wood stain
  • Polish suitable for aluminum

Tools used:

  • Saw for wood
  • Scissors for sheet metal or strong regular scissors
  • Clamps
  • Vise
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Pipe cutter
  • File for wood
  • File for metal
  • Sand bag
  • Ladle
  • Sand paper
  • Screw driver
  • Piece of cloth
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

Step 1: Making the Templates

We made a photo of eachother, printed the photos and then I used scissors to cut the template.

I wanted to use a heart shape and drew one half of the heart on a piece of paper. Then I cut that half and folded the paper so I could trace the lines and draw the other half. I sized the heart so it would be a bit larger than our heads.

Step 2: Cut the Aluminum

I used a type of scissors which are made to cut thin sheet metal. Hardware stores sell this type of scissors for around 15 Euros. They also sell this thin sheet aluminum.

The sheet is so thin that it was also possible to cut it with a strong type of regular scissors, but they can get damaged, so I used the scissors for sheet metal. Downside of these scissors is that they are made to cut in a straight line. Outer curves are still possible but cutting the inner part of a curve is quite difficult. My solution was to cut several triangles, every time removing part of the material in the middle between us.

Step 3: Cleaning and Polishing the Aluminum

The edges of the aluminum were sharp and not cut perfectly with the scissors, so I used small files suitable for metal to clean the edges. After that I used sandpaper to remove the remaining sharp edges and to remove the scratches on the surface.

Some time ago I made something else from aluminum sheet metal and I did not get a shiny surface. That time I tried WD40, white vinegar and a cheap type of polish for cars and none of them worked. This time I tried sandpaper and worked through the grids until 5000 and still the result was dull aluminum. Suddenly I remembered that we had another type of polish called Commandant. The previous time I had been looking for it between all the types of polish and grease and spray paint in our garage, but I could not find it. Now I remembered that I had recently seen the can of Commandant between our cans of paint and it looks like a can of paint too. (I had not looked there the previous time.) The can of Commandant is more than 25 years old, but it worked very well and much better than all the other materials that I tried before.

To show the difference I first only polished the right side of the aluminum and immediately I was very happy with the result and also did the left side.

If you want to get shiny aluminum, you do not have to sand a lot, I think using up to 400 grid is more than sufficient. Just make sure you use a good type of polish.

Step 4: Cut the Oak and Finish With a File and Sandpaper

Oak is a hard type of wood, but I like the way it looks, so I decided to use oak.

I used the saw for wood that you can see on the photos. That saw cannot cut any curves, so I made several straight cuts. This was a good workout, especially for the parts where I had to go parallel with the grain.

Of course I could not get the perfect shape of the heart just with the saw only. Therefore I used a file for wood. That file was not very sharp, which was ideal, because a sharp file could lead to some tear out.

After filing I sanded the heart with some sandpaper.

Probalby you already know, but it is best to use a piece of wood between the vise and the heart, so the surface of the oak will not get dents from the vise.

Step 5: Make the Cubes With "love You"

I used a piece of wood that was 18x18 mm so it was already square. To make cubes I cut the pieces 18 mm long and sanded them.

Then I wrote the letters "LOVE YOU" on the cubes with a pencil.

Step 6: Change the Idea

Originally my idea was to add a little candle, because candle light is romantic. Therefore I took a second piece of oak as base and used a hammer and chisel to cut a circle to make a space for the candle. I was quite happy with the hole I made.

I used the saw to cut off two of the corners and then I placed a candle in the hole and set the heart upright.

Hmmm. This looks more like a little monument to remember somebody who passed away. So I decided not to use the candle light and to change the idea.

A lot of my projects change and devellop while I am working on the project, because I usually start making something when only 80% of the idea is clear. So it is quite common for me that I decide to change something after I already made part of the project. My new idea was that I would make a kind of saucer holding two rings. The saucer could then sit in the hole I made with the chisel, so the hole would still be used.

Step 7: Make a Saucer

I made the saucer from the aluminum sheet of 0.5 mm thick. I used a small paint can to draw a circle and used the scissors to cut the circle.

Then it was time to shape the metal. I had never done that before, but I always hear people about using a hammer and a sand bag. So I used a hammer with a rounded head and a bag of sand and hit the aluminum plate. It worked, but the aluminum had a lot of dents. Then I took a ladle, put it upside down in the vise and that was perfect to hold my saucer while I hit it with the flat headed side of the hammer to remove the dents as far as I could. Then I polished the aluminum to make it shiny. Of course I did this manually with a rag.

Step 8: Make Copper Rings

Wedding rings are not made of copper, but for this project I thought copper would be perfect as we will not be wearing these rings.

I polished the end of a copper pipe and used a pipe cutter to cut two rings. The advantage of a pipe cutter above a hacksaw is that the cut is straight and it takes only a little bit of sanding to remove the sharp edges.

I did try my copper ring to see if it would fit and it does.

Step 9: Glueing and Staining the Heart

To support the heart in it's upright position, I cut a piece of oak and glued it to the back of the heart. I took some other scrap pieces of wood to be able to use the clamps.

Then I stained the wood and glued the last part after that. Of course the glue will be stronger if it is applied on wood that is not stained, but the weight of the heart is not high and when I applied the stain first I would not have to stain areas that are hard to reach.

Step 10: Glue the Heads

I cut 6 thin pieces of wood and glued them to the back side of the aluminum heads. Then I used the same glue to place it on the heart.

Step 11: Take Photos

When I wanted to take a photo of the final result I saw myself and the camera reflected in the aluminum and I thought it would be great if you could see both of us.

I hope you enjoyed looking at this project. If you have any comments, please let me know.

Hand Tools Only Challenge

Participated in the
Hand Tools Only Challenge