Introduction: Rusty Tools to Rustic Art

About: I've always liked pulling things apart - it's the putting back together again that I have some issues with!

Turn some rusty tools into works of rustic art.

I have a recycling centre near me that has a shop where you can buy all types of wondrous junk. Whilst doing a little rummaging I came across a bunch of old rusty tools which looked like treasure to me

I have wanted to make some rustic sculptures ever since I discovered Oriol Cabrero’s art. He takes some random parts and makes beautiful and simple sculptures out of them. I’ve taken some inspiration from some of his sculptures and have made my own versions whist a couple are all me.

It’s really hard making an ible” on this type of subject as it comes down to personal taste and creativity. However, hopefully I can explain a few techniques I have learnt and help you get started on making your own rustic art.

The wood that I used is all drift wood. You could just any old wood really but I have always liked working with found wood.

Lastly, if you need some inspiration, check out this Pinterest page

Step 1: Parts to Gather


1. A bunch of old tools. Not everyone’s gonna have a tip where they can get these from. Here’s a few ideas on where to source:

a. Grandpas shed

b. Thrift shop / Op shop

c. Metal recycling centre

d. Your own garden!

e. Ask a friend

f. Check any garden sheds, there’s bound to be some in them.

g. Hard rubbish. In Australia the council does a rubbish run once a year in most places where they pick-up any large pieces of junk. I have found plenty of goodies checking these rubbish heaps out.

2. Random rusty bits. I have used tools as a base to make the sculptures but really you can just about use anything that has some character. Look around for anything interesting with a bit of rust or patina on it.

3. Rusted sheet metal. Ok so you’re probably thinking where in hell can I find that! Well you can get rusty sheet metal from an old paint tin or oil can. Most of the sheeting that I use comes from old oil cans. I just cut the flat sections off and you’re away. The sheet metal that I used came from a 1920’s car door that I found rusting in the bush! Check out the above places but also keep your eyes open as I have found these on the side of the road.

4. Driftwood – check out the beach or even your local timber seller as they will have old offcuts that you could just take.

5. Various screws and connecting parts


These tools come in handy but just use whatever you have.

1. Grinder

2. Drill

3. Files

4. Pliers

5. Usual screwdrivers and Philips heads

6. Super glue

7. Fine toothed saw

8. Dropdown saw

9. Dremel

10. Hammer

11. Wire cutters

12. Tin snips

Step 2: What to Make!

So you have found a bunch of rusty tools and some scuffed and scarred wood and now it’s time to make something. But what? That’s really is up to you want you want to make depending on what you have found. Animals are always great to make but you could as easily make a person or object like a boat. What is going to determine what you make is what you have found.

Look at the rusty bits and see if anything resembles a head, beak, horns, wings, body part etc. Grab parts out and imagine what it could represent. Stick parts against each other and see if they start to look like something. It can take some time but eventually you start to see the potential of a part or parts and once you get a little inspiration your away.

I have also put together a bunch of really cool ideas that I found on the net and have saved them to my Pinterest account which can be found here. The net is a great place to get inspiration and I always check out what others are doing to get some ideas.

Another thing to do is to just check out animal pictures on the net or in a book. Once I have an idea, I thin go and find a bunch of pictures of that animal and print out images to help me visualize.

Step 3: Make a Bull - Head Section

Here how I made a cow out of an old gardening tool, a block of drift wood and some wire.


1. Once I had found the head section I realised quickly that this cow would have 3 horns if I didn’t remove one of them. Grab a grinder and remove the middle “horn”

2. I also had to remove the metal section from the handle. All I did was to make some cuts into the wood and then stuck it in a vice and the wood broke away.

Step 4: Make a Bull - Body

1. For the body I used a block of drift wood that I recently found down the beach. First you need to cut it to size.

2. Next I drilled a hole for the head section to go into. Make the hole slightly smaller than the part you are going to insert so the fit is nice and tight.

3. I placed a piece of wood on the “face” section of the bull and used a hammer to secure the head to the body. It’s a nice and tight fit but it also allows you to turn the head and get a different emotion or look if you want to.

Step 5: Make a Bull - Legs

The legs are made out of some rusty wire that my next door

neighbour game to me. A bit of a strange gift…


Legs and Tail

1. The wire was curled so I cut of a length and straightened as best as I could.

2. Next cut 4 equal lengths. How long you make these is up to you. You might want your animal to have really long legs, or short stubby ones.

3. Next I drilled 4 holes into the bottom of the body. Again, the holes were slightly smaller in diameter that the wire.

4. To secure into place, I use a hammer and just hammered them in.

TIP: Sharpen the ends of the wire so they go into the wood easily

5. Next I bent a small piece of wire and used this as a tail and added it to the body.

Step 6: Make a Bull - Mounting

For the mount I went for something simple and just used a piece of drift wood


6. To mount I used another piece of drift wood as a base. Place the bull onto the wood and mark where the “feet” touch the base.

7. Drill a hole for each leg

8. Lastly, push the bulls legs into the holes. I also use a hammer and gave the top of the bull a tap to ensure the legs were secure.


Step 7: Finished

Here's a few images of the finished bull

Step 8: Make a Hummingbird - Body and Beak

The hummingbird is made from an old file and handle, a rusty hacksaw blade, a small piece of sheet metal and a few other bits. I got the idea after finding the file which was bent and looked like the beak of a hummingbird.

I downloaded a few pictures of hummingbirds from the net and got to work.


1. As my file was already bent I didn’t really have to do too much to the beak and body. I did bend it a little more so it was angled more sharply.

2. If you are thinking of making one, you’ll probably have to bend the file at the base of the handle to get the same look. Don’t bend too much though as the metal can be brittle and snap on you.

Step 9: Make a Hummingbird - Wings

I decided to use an old hacksaw blade for the wings. A hummingbirds wings can move in a circular motion to help it hover so I wanted to try and capture some of this movement.


1. First I looked at a few images of hummingbird wings to get the general idea of how they look.

2. After I decided on a design, I marked them out on the hacksaw blade and cut them out. I had to cut them out as separate wings due to the shape of the hummingbird wing. Although this made it a little trickier to mount to the file, I thought it would look more realistic.

3. Next I cut them out with a grinder and filed any sharp edges

4. Once I decided where and how to mount, I drilled a couple holes in the wings. This wasn’t easy as the blade is hardened steel and snapped about 4 drill pieces before I got through it! Probably should have brought better quality ones.

5. Lastly I drilled a couple holes in the handle so I could use screws to attach the wings.

Step 10: Make a Hummingbird - Tail

You can see from the images that it took me a few goes to get the shape of the tail right. I used a piece of sheet metal taken from an old 1920's car I found abandoned in the bush!


1. First I cut out the tail. The sheet metal I used already had a curve in it so I kept it this way. you could also just have a straight tail or maybe use a piece of the hacksaw blade if you wanted to.

2. Next I cut a groove into the end of the files handle with a thin hacksaw.

3. Lastly I added some super glue to the tail and pushed it into place

Step 11: Make a Hummingbird - Mounting

To mount the hummingbird I used an old rusty part (no idea what it was from) and some more of the wire.


1. I drilled a hole into the top of the base (which was quite soft) just smaller than the wire.

2. Next I sharpened the end of the wire and lightly tapped this into place.

3. To mount the hummingbird I fist had to work out what angle I wanted it to sit at. Once I worked this out I drilled a hole, added some super glue and pushed the hummingbird into place.

Another one down

Step 12: The Finished Hummingbird

Just a few images of the finished Hummingbird

Step 13: Make a Ram - Head and Body

It took me awhile to work out what I was going to use as the head. In the end I found an old gate hinge which worked perfectly.


1. First I had to get the hinge bent to the right shape. i just put it into a vice and managed to turn the rusted hinge to the angle I needed.

2. I also had to cut away from screws. I left the heads however as I liked the way they looked

2. Next a cut a piece of driftwood to size and fastened the top of the hinge to the wood (body)

Step 14: Make a Ram - Horns

For the horns I once again used some of the rusty wire that I used in all of the projects. Definitely something you should try and find if you are going to make some rustic sculptures.


1. First I cut 2 equal lengths and then to twist into a rams horn shape I stuck the end into a vice and hand twisted them.

2. Once I had the desired shape (I used some images of ram horns to get the shape I wanted) I then had to mount them into the hinge. To do this I drilled a couple holes into the hinge and wood and super glued them into place

Step 15: Make a Ram - Legs and Tail

I know I sound like a broken record but again I used the rusty wire for the legs. You could also use some old concrete rebar as well if you have that handy.


1. first I cut 4 equal lengths of the wire and sharpened the ends.

2. Next I drilled 4 holes into the bottom of the wood and hammered the legs into the wood.

3. Lastly I bent a little piece of the wire, drilled a hole into the wood and super glued into place.

Step 16: Make a Ram - Mounting

To mount the ram I decided to use a block of driftwood. I noticed though that the weight of the hinge made the ram tip over so i added a large rusty gear to the bottom for stability.


1. First I placed the ram onto the top of the wood and marked where the legs touched the wood

2. Next I drilled some holes and then sharpened the ends of the legs for easy fitment.

3. As mentioned, the weight of the ram made the ram tip overt. I added a large rusty gear to the bottom by drilling out a hole into the wood and securing with liquid nails.

4. Lastly I pushed the ram into place and have it a light tap on top to make sure the legs were secured.

Step 17: The Final Sculpture

Here's a couple images of the final product.

Hope this has inspired you to go out and make your own. If you do i'd love to see some images of what you make so please make sure you post them in the comments. These aren't hard to make, you just need a bunch of old rusty tools and parts and your away.

Trash to Treasure Contest 2017

Participated in the
Trash to Treasure Contest 2017