Introduction: Toms Metal Tips VOL.1

About: Magpies always got their hands on the best digs!

This will be my entry for the tips competition but hopefully a lasting series that everyone can chip in with. Working with metal is defiantly one of the harder things to master, its very limiting unless you have the right thickness and leverage. I personally don't forge metal, black smithing is another art separate to fabrication and sheet metal work which is what this is aimed at. I am a metal artist and general fabricator in my own time, I havent gone to college for it unlike some, so these are some dirty cheap ways to get around some common issues.


Hobbyist or tradesmen, safety is paramount. Metal is harder than human bodies and it can damage your skin, features and organs so dont mess about, decent safety eye-wear should be worn at all times, the sun glasses type are comfy enough and after a few minutes you forget you're wearing them but Id recommend full face masks, these are great as grinding wheels, hammers and metal flying towards your face could turn you into Voldemort! - Plus metal filings from grinding blocks the paws of the skin up, if you suffer from spots or acne the face mask stops your skin getting dirty which in turn helps hygiene.

Hand protection is a no brainer, and is very handy (ey ey) when welding or handling, gauntlets are the best weapon of choice against the on going battle with metal splinters which hurt worse then wood splinters I can assure you! if its not splinters its cut hands, ive gotten to the stage that when I wash my hands with a brush its really painful because I have loads of micro cuts so dont be me, be smart.


If you're just handling metal no need with uv and fire resistance clothing, just make sure your have work clothes on or if its jagged, sharp maybe look into a apron, its dead cheap and even the worst is still better than nothing. With welding its best to wear a UV and FIRE resistance jacket or a purpose made welding jacket, only takes a few sparks and youll be lit up like a campfire so always be aware of yourself and the workshop for fires.


Boots are generally worn on your feet. Heavy metal dropped on your feet hurt, tools can get to the weight they really hurt too, if you have access to a workshop you should have steel toe boots anyway, if you're getting into working with heavy materials, safety boots can be picked up fairly cheap online or local hardware chains.

Please enjoy and I hope this unlocks new doors for beginners and hobbyist!

Step 1: Doming Metal

If you're stingy and your wallet creeks when it opens this is gold for you. Doming sheet can be done in multiple ways, English wheels, sand bags and doming hammers. Using the same technique as stamping what were going to do is make a die. These can be purchased but who wants to spend money am-i-right?

So for this you'll need a ball pein-hammer which most people have kicking around, if you don't they're dead cheap, a lot cheaper than forming hammers themselves. Heres and link to the UK amazon, just an example of something that can be purchased without breaking the bank!

£ -

And you'll also need a hunk of wood, soft wood so it has very slight compress-ability, I don't think that thin wood will work, you'll be looking for at least 1" thick, or if you have a old tree stump in your garden you could use that as a die.

The how to part

So how to, its pretty simple. Figure out a central position and hammer into the wood with the ball end until you have a dome forming, once you got a good size dip you can call it a day or start smacking metal! You don't want the dome too big, if you do it takes the point away from what a press die is. Metal can be shaped and formed into curves and domes on flat material but this way speeds up the process, I've attached a photo of projects I've used this method on.

Step 2: Bend to Cut

I use a variety of cutting tools but none of them seem to make a easier and cleaner cut than is method. The tricky cut Im on about is with sheet metal, I've attached photos of the steps but ill explain them here too.

To do this you will need pliers and arms not like Mr.burns

How to do

So I want a flat sheet of metal without bending the ends up so I can get a pair of tin snips in to cut away a shape. What I will do is get a pair of vice grips or normal pliers and grip the metal I need to break away at the line I would cut at, then I will bend that piece back and forth weakening and creating a stress line in the metal, eventually breaking the off cut away from the work piece, job done. If the cut you want to get too is longer than any pliers you have, you could either make the jaws bigger with some flat bar cut to length or use a chisel and punch the line in before bending it.

Above is a photo of a project I used this technique on! - if you're interested in building this heres the tutorial

Step 3: A Healthy Sharpie Is a Happy Sharpie.

Im against Sharpie abuse and we need to spread the word.

Sharpies or markers in that regards arent a fan of dust, they dry out quicker and you get a really faint line if you drag it though dust and sediment from grinding, easiest way to fix this is to clean the work piece which should be done anyway, but be careful what your plans are, if you intend to weld or use a blow torch make sure the degreaser and cleaner you're using hasn't got chlorine in it, some brake cleaners do and its not good for you organs nor your well being, trust me!

Step 4: Bending Your Corners

Sheet metal can be like a knife blade, even worse when its rusty, heres a quickie that will save your hands, arms and hips - never store sheet metal flat and at head height, if you do wear safety glasses at all times in the workshop when manoeuvring around it.

Basically what were doing is curling the edges over so is isn't a jagged edge, or if you work with minimal off cuts you may want that crisp corner so theres a card and duck tape alternative, see the photos above!

If you have cut yourself on rusty metal, make sure you clean the cut and if you haven't get a check over if it starts to irritate, tetanus is a real thing - also a reminder to get your jabs fellow metal workers!

Step 5: First Instalment and Closing Remarks

Thats for the first instalment, I have got more I want to share but I dont want this all on me, if some of you guys have your own techniques share it! Everyone's penny becomes a pound!

The main things you need to take away from this is safety is number 1 in the workshop, any beginners thats getting into metal working or sculpting; You can be following a diagram but everything you build will be your own so find your own style of work and through that you'll find your own way around things and will be able to explore new ways to make whats on youre mind.

Thought Id chip in some knowledge and as always, have fun!

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