Miniature Car

About: I am interested in metal art and other craft.

This instructable is on how to make a miniature car from a small scrap of metal.

The car could be any kind of car so I have decided to base it very loosely on a mini.

The things you will need are here in order of use.

An appropriate view of the car you are going to make

a rectangular piece of aluminium.

a pencil and a scriber or old center punch

a hacksaw

a set of small files, not as small as needle files as they will be taking off a few millimeters of material

a set of needle files/jewelers files

a centre punch and hammer (an automatic one is better for this job)

pillar drill (a hand drill will work but it may not be as accurate)

a small drill bit ,anywhere between 0.5 and about 1.5 mm diameter to drill the wheel holes

small flathead screwdriver

sandpaper in various grades and polishing paper

The piece of material is taken from a larger piece, so it can be any size as long as your car will fit on it.

This piece is 13mm x7mm x 9.5mm but it can be as thin as 7mm. Because I found it hard to get good pictures due to the quality of the cameras I can access, I have labeled some of the pictures to make it easier to identify which is which.

Step 1: Drawing the Outline

The outline is done from the side view of the car. It is easier to just draw the image by eye than to trace it as it is so small. First draw it in pencil and then scribe over it with the scriber. The wheels do not need to be rounded yet, it is easier leave them as rectangles till a later stage.

Step 2: Cutting the Bonnet

The next stages are just cutting out the outline of the car. If you don't need to know how to do this you can skip the next few steps.

Put the car in the vice vertically so and make the cut along the top of the bonnet (B0). Then cut along the front of the window. This will remove a small chunk of metal(b1). Use the files to remove material down to the line. Be careful to make sure that both sides of the bonnet are even.

Step 3: Cutting the Wheels

In this stage we will be removing three sections of material. W3 shows in pink the sections being removed.
One piece at the front of the vehicle, one between the wheels and one at the back. It is better to use only the files to avoid removing too much material. Ensure that all parts are level on both sides.(In picture w0 the wheel tops are not level.W1 shows how they should be).

Be careful to make sure that both sides are level.

Keep the wheels as rectangles for now as it will make drilling the centers of the wheels easier. Leave the widths slightly thicker than you want them to be to give you more flexibility to correct a mistake if you make one at a later stage.

Step 4: Choosing the Width of the Car

You may notice that the thickness of the car is currently far to thick to be a normal car (TB), so we will cut off a piece to make it the right width. Depending on the size of your piece of material you may only have a millimeter or half a millimeter to remove (T2).

Do not be tempted to try to saw off a bit that is to thin, as you may remove too much if the blade is too thick or if the cut does not go straight .It is better to be patient and file it down. The car should now be the correct width (T3).

Step 5: Marking the Wheels

Using the horizontal point where the wheel joins the car as a center point, mark out the wheel centers In pencil (D1). Center punch the marks and check that they are definantly in the center ( D2).

Step 6: Drilling the Wheels

Don't forget to use the correct safety equipment

Hold the car in the vice horizontally and line one of the hole centers up with the drill bit (D1) (anywhere between 0.5 and about 1.5 mm diameter depending on the size of your wheels).Drill to a depth of 0.5 mm. It is not necessary to drill to this exact depth, whatever depth suits your model. It is possible to drill right through the wheel section but this gives a slightly different effect and may ruin the smooth underside of the car when you cut out the gap between the wheels.

Step 7: Slant on Side and Back Windows

Hold the car by the bonnet (SW1) and file the sides to add angles on the windows. (The sides should be about 10 degrees from vertical). The slants should stop in line with the top of the bonnet (SW2). The rear should also have a slant. The front should have a slightly larger slant at about 30 or 40 degrees from vertical, however this is one of the things that would change depending on which vehicle you chose to make. If you make a sports car, the angle will be a lot larger. SW3 showa the slants.

Step 8: Rounding Edges

The bonnet will also need rounding on the top edges. How much material you remove is a matter of preference, but the best way is to hold the car by the back and use a flat file (SW4).The Back of the car can also be rounded slightly.

Picture SW6 shows how the bonnet should look when it has been rounded.

Step 9: Rounding Wheels

Hold the car in the vice with the underside facing up (WR1). Use a small file to round the wheels (WR2) by filing gently whilst adjusting the angle of the file.

Step 10: Headlights

This step adds the detail to the car that
will make it more realistic.

Hold the car in the vice with the back end facing up and make two pencil marks on the back of the car just above the bumper. The marks should be as near to the outside as possible. Use the center punch to lightly make two holes on the pencil marks. If the holes are too small then you can make them bigger. Turn the car around so that the front end is facing up. Mark two marks near the top of the bonnet and punch two holes on them. Keeping the car the same way in the vice , put the screwdriver on the front of the car, parallel to the top of the bonnet, just below the lights (on the car in the picture the mark was a bit too low, so it looks a bit like a face). Lightly tap the screwdriver with a hammer to make a mark (it is supposed to be a grille but is too small to add any other detail).

There lights are optional and could be put in other places, for example on the bumper at the back or at the front ,if you decide to have one at the front.

Step 11: Separating the Wheels

Hold the car with the wheels facing up in the vice. Use the thin edge of a small flat file to remove the material between the wheels. You may be able to use a saw to remove most of the material and then just widen the gap with a file.

Step 12: Magnet

Use the wheels as corners to mark the center of the space between them (F2). Center punch the mark and hold the car upside down in the machine vice(M1). chose a drill bit that is closest to the diameter of your magnet and set it up in the drill. This can be done with a hand held drill, but it may be harder to keep the hole straight. Drill the hole so that the depth is the same as the thickness as the magnet(M2).

If the hole is slightly small, that is better than slightly wide as it can be made larger by sanding the inside of the hole. The magnet should be quite a tight fit in the hole, and it can be glued with superglue (most types of glue will work if the magnet fits well enough).

If the magnet is closer to the front of the car(and more of the weight of the car is behind the magnet) then you may be able to make the car “drive” by pushing it along with another disk magnet. This requires the magnets to be large enough so it is best to make the car slightly bigger.

Hold the car with the wheels facing up in
the vice. Use the thin edge of a small flat file to remove the material between the wheels. You may be able to use a saw to remove most of the material and then just widen the gap with a file.

There is a video here that hopefully will play, but if it doesn't, it is just showing the car "driving".

Step 13: Sanding and Polishing

The car may have a few marks from the vice
( I put a piece of duct tape on each jaw of the vice to minimize this).

Marks can be removed by lightly filing the surface with a fine file or using a coarse sandpaper. Because I am not sure of the grades of the sandpaper I have used so I have put pictures of the different pieces. The gap between the wheels can be sanded by wrapping the sandpaper round a piece of sheet metal with an edge that will fit in the gap. Once the car has been polished it is possible to use an ordinary piece of paper to do very fine polishing. This works quite well and is good if you cannot access polishing wheels.

Step 14: Other Options

There are lots of different types of car that could be made, so I have put some pictures of some previous cars. Some are not as well finished but the right types of sandpaper can fix that. The last car is based on the Lamborghini Avantador. Note the larger drill holes in the wheels. Cars could be made in larger sizes, with a larger magnet as a fridge magnet.

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    2 Discussions

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    Penolopy Bulnick

    5 months ago

    This is great! It's perfect for personalized Monopoly or other game pieces, now everyone can be the car ;)

    1 reply