Ninjabread Men

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Intro: Ninjabread Men

After seeing a picture of some similar ninjabread men cutters on Amazon I HAD to have some. Not being one to just buy something, I thought I'd have a go at making my own using strips of 0.5mm stainless steel and a jig to bend it around.

Not being a dab hand with graphics software I twisted the arm of my friend gmjhowe to make me some outlines. The ninjas in the PDF he sent me back are pure awesome, and should be a wee bit easier to make than the shapes of the originals I got my inspiration from.

Once the artwork was done I could cut out a template to use to bend the strips of sheet steel I had bought into the desired shape.

Read on to see details on how to get the best result and how to make the all important template.

Step 1: Tools, Materials & Ingredients

None of these are absolutely necessary, you should be able to get by with less, use your imagination! The steps after this one show how I used some of the below tools to make the ninjabread man production process smoother and easier.

Tools: ( a selection of, not all necessary)

  • tin snips
  • long nosed pliers
  • a fat, straight, round pen
  • a thin, straight, round  pen (a felt tip would be handy, since it can also write on steel)
  • gloves (may be useful if you have soft hands)
  • sand paper
  • a vice
  • a printer
  • a spot welder / pop rivets / araldite

Materials:

  • paper
  • ply wood (or acrylic)

Ingredients:

See step 13.

Step 2: Choosing the Steel

After having an experiment with some scraps at work I decided that 0.8mm and 1.0mm were too thick. 0.5mm was easier to bend by hand and I could create tighter radiuses.

I opted to buy some strips of 0.5mm stainless steel. Mine were £0.90 each for strips 500mm long and 20mm wide. I found a seller of stainless steel offcuts on ebay and sent them a message to see if they'd be interested in selling me the strips I needed.

Step 3: Making a Template

Making a template does three things.

1) It lets you see the shape your cutter needs to be and shows you where to bend/fold the steel
2) It allows you to partly bend the steel around it if it's rigid enough
3) If you're writing an instructable about making cookie cutters, it lets you illustrate your concept better so people don't think you're some nut bending steel in random places.

I laser cut my templates from 5mm translucent orange acrylic. This is by no means necessary and printing your templates onto paper, gluing them to some MDF or ply wood and cutting around them with a coping saw would more than suffice.

Aim for a thickness of wood (or other material) that is stiff enough to let you bend the metal around it. A thicker template may make it easier to keep the cutter aligned as you bend it.

See below to download the templates as a pdf:

Step 4: Where to Begin?

Definitely start by sanding the edges of the steel to remove any burrs! I didn't and ended up with half a dozen cuts within 10 minutes. 240 grit sandpaper got rid of the worst of it.

Your starting point for bending should be on a straight part of the template. This gives you somewhere flat and easy to join it once you've gone all the way around. Having to make the join on a bend would be tricky!

The next few steps illustrate my progress around the perimeter of my template and the steps I took to make each of the bends.... some were trickier than others.

Step 5: Bending Around Large Radiuses

This is where a selection of pens of different sizes really helps.

The board marker I've used here is just the right size to bend the steel around for the arms and legs. Holding it in a vice allows you to use both hands to get it the right shape.

I found that if I bent the steel around the pen it was best to bend it a little further than I needed, since it would spring back a tiny bit afterwards.

If you're lacking a vice, holding or clamping the pen up against a table allows you to roll the metal around it.

Step 6: Marking Helps!

As you move around the perimeter of your template, it helps to be able to draw a line on the steel every now and again so you can offer it up against the template, then move it away to a vice or better work surface to bend it.

In this photo I had bent the first leg into shape then wanted to get a tight bend. I marked the steel then threw it in a vice so I'd have more control over it.

Step 7: Making Sharp Turns

This is one of those tricky bits.

I found it's best to offer it up against the jig, then mark on where you want the bend to be.

I put my cutter into a vice at this point and bent it over by hand until it was a 90 degree bend with a small-ish radius. I then thwacked it with a hammer to make the turn tighter. Now remove it from the vice and bend it the rest of the way, then hit it with the hammer again to flatten it.

Offer it up against your template again just to check you got it in the right place!

Step 8: Bending Around Bigger Radiuses!

Our ninja's heads, like most people's, are bigger than their hands and feet.

To bend a bigger radius neatly the head of my hammer came in handy! It was just the right size. A glue stick or soda bottle top might also suffice.

Step 9: Bending Around Small Radiuses

And yes, you guessed it! The smaller pen's great for the smaller radiuses like where his/her arms meet the head and for the kink in the foot.

Using these techniques you should be able to make it the whole way around your ninjas. The first one was definitely trickiest for me!

Step 10: Finishing

When you've been the whole way around your ninjas, you should be left with a shape the same (or similar) as your template.

Now's a good point to go around correcting any slightly misshapen bits. One of the legs of one of mine was a little fat, and most of their heads needed to be a little rounder.

Step 11: Removing Excess

Lop off the extra metal with some tin snips if you have them. A hacksaw, dremel, big wire cutters or an oxyacetylene torch (ha!) would do the trick if you don't.

Leave 10-20mm overlap, you'll need it to join the two ends together.

Step 12: Joining

Join the two ends of the cutter together by any means necessary.

I had access to a spot welder. Pop rivets, araldite and strong double sided tape would also do the job!

Step 13: Making Gingerbread!

I chose to go with a recipe by Delia for my ninjabread men.

She suggests:

  • 3 oz (75 g) soft brown sugar, sieved
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 1 tablespoon black treacle
  • 1 level teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 level teaspoon ginger
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • finely grated rind ½ orange
  • 3½ oz (95 g) butter or margarine
  • ½ level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • about 8 oz (225 g) plain flour
  •  
You could add:

  • 3 caps full of black food colouring  - everyone knows black ninjas are the stealthiest
  • a handful of chopped crystallised ginger, gingerbread ninjas might need a bit of an extra kick to keep up with regular ninjas (thanks for the suggestions Kiteman)
Put the sugar, syrup, treacle, 1 tablespoon of water, spices and rind together in a large saucepan.

Heat them, stirring all the while until the ingredients start to bubble. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter/marge and the bicarbonate of soda.

Next, stir in the flour until it comes together into a smooth dough. You may need to add more flour than suggested above.... I did!

Allow the dough to cool then roll out on a floured surface, or a silicone rolling pad if you have one. Roll it to 3-5mm thick then massacre it with your new ninjabread cutters!

Transfer to a greased pan or baking parchment.

Bake for 10-15 minutes. They're done when they're firm but you can still leave a finger impression by pushing down.

Allow them to cool for as long as you can stand, then fight them. Loser gets eaten!
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    75 Discussions

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    bgepp1

    4 years ago on Introduction

    now they are selling these in stores!: http://i.imgur.com/7ipRyZa.jpg

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    mysss

    7 years ago on Step 2

    I'd have put the shinier side inside for the (probably slight?) decrease in friction. This is an awesome idea! Now we can make whatever cookie shapes we want!!

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    Some Dork

    7 years ago on Introduction

    These are great! Someone actually sent me a link for the "for sale" versions of these a few weeks back, I love that you devised a good way to "home bake" them, as it were. :)

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    sparkynz

    7 years ago on Step 13

    Great project

    Do you think I could make these cutters out of Acrylic Strip? It will be easier to bend using a heat gun /hairdryer.

    I would mkae the templates out of MDF which would be a little taller than the acrylic strip.

    2 replies
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    sparkynzsparkynz

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    HIYA

    Will have a go and let you know the results.

    Mike look at this for a school project?

    Can make other shapes, if the acrylic works out?

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    Jayefuusparkynz

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    You could try, I'm not sure the edges would be sharp enough to cut the dough, it might just squish it.

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    8ntfrogn

    7 years ago on Introduction

    would cooper and a scroll saw work for these?
    I may just have to buy them but I want different poses. Thanks

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    9ale7

    7 years ago on Introduction

    can you tell us more about the Laser cutter?
    i like the end results on the acrylic :)

    4 replies
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    Jayefuu9ale7

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    What would you like to know? And yes, the results with acrylic are great. Things come out particuarly nice with clear frosted acrylic, and the etch which isn't shown in this ible comes out very nicely. There are a few more laser cut projects on my blog if you're interested, they didn't make it to instructables. Link is on my profile.

    J

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    9ale7Jayefuu

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    hi, i would love to make my own one ;)
    might be to much for a newbie, but i'm all fired up to make my CNC,

    so whether you tell me about you're or how did you make the laser cut alone? (can it cut in a manual way without a CNC Router??)

    and better to give me an idea about the budget :P

    (by the way i did check you're blog but still can not find a picture or a post regarding the Laser Cut it self)

    and thank u 4 the respond.

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    Jayefuu9ale7

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Oh!

    The laser cutter I used I didn't make. It's a Chinese import, bought from a company called HPC Lasers.

    It's a fairly low cost (4k gbp), 40W laser cutter. You can get much more expensive ones, but this one gives great results despite having poorly translated safety signs and slightly dodgy software.

    If you want to see more about it I'll hurry up the blog post I'm writing about ways we've improved it. It now has a nozzle to direct the air closer to the job, a screen on a stand I bolted to the side, and the PC to edit the jobs is now located in the cabinet underneath it. We've also now got several nice ways to line up jobs, since once you've cut something, if you move it it is really hard to get it back into the same place to start working on it again.

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    9ale7Jayefuu

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    wooow, way off the BUDGET !! for a first time ..
    yet i would love to see you're post :)

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    Broom

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I've wanted to do this for YEARS!!!!, but didn't have the knowledge to work with bending metal. Lack of experience can equal timidity to try!

    Thanks for the clues! It sounds much easier than I thought it would be.

    Also, you can buy small pieces of aluminum flashing from DIY/plumbing/hardware stores, that would probably work well for this.

    I'd join the lapped edges with either a metal "weld" epoxy like JB Weld, or by running a solder bead along them, because I don't have access to a spot welder.

    Thanks again!

    2 replies
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    srilykBroom

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    You could use a rivet instead - if you did a pop rivet from the inside that could probably work without munging your cookies too bad.