SHAPING SHEET METAL WITH a BALL PEEN HAMMER AND WOOD

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About: Professionally I have been a summer camp counselor, a Draftsman/designer, salesperson, bicycle mechanic, laminate flooring machine mechanic, teacher, and designer of the OP Loftbed. Personally I am a human...

Intro: SHAPING SHEET METAL WITH a BALL PEEN HAMMER AND WOOD

My grandfather showed me this technique, when I was young. He told me the story of how he had forgotten to bring a spoon to work, for his lunch. He was able to make a spoon out of scrap metal and use it to eat. This technique is useful in making spoons, bowls, and other curved shapes out of sheet metal.

Step 1: Safety Equipment

Safety glasses are a must for any project.

You will be working with sheet metal that can be sharp, especially after you cut it, so a good pair of leather gloves should be worn.

There will be an extended amount of time hammering, so you will want to protect your hearing with some ear plugs.

Step 2: Materials

You will need a block of wood. I used a piece of 2x4. You want the wood to be a soft wood so you can make a dent in it with the ball peen hammer. I used pine. For your metal you could use almost any sheet steel. The softer and thinner the steel, the easier it will be to form, but the softer metals are more prone to cracking or tearing during the process. I used some 16 gauge aluminium and some thin aluminium from a can.

Step 3: Tools

A ball peen hammer. I used a 16 oz. You may want a smaller hammer for small shapes or a larger hammer for larger shapes. Something to cut the metal like sheet metal shears or tin snips. Something like a Sharpie to mark on the sheet metal. And some sand paper to smooth out the edges.

Step 4: Mark Out the Shape You Want

Mark out the shape you want on the metal. It is easier to make changes before you cut.

Step 5: Cut Out the Shape

Use care when cutting out the sheet metal. The edge can be very sharp.

Step 6: Prepare the Block of Wood

The block of wood needs to have a dent in it to act like the mold for the steel. Think of the hammer as the inside of the curve and the wood as the outside. Place the wood on a sturdy surface and hit it a few times to make a concave dent.

Step 7: Hammer

You want to put your metal over the dent and hammer it with the ball end of the ball peen hammer. Lots of little hits will make your piece of metal take shape. Move the metal around to get a smooth bowl shape. This takes patience and can be meditative. Just make sure you use hearing protection.

If you want to make a long curve, make a dent at the end of the wood. This is useful in making a handle for a spoon stronger than just a flat piece.

Step 8: Smooth Out the Edges

Once you get your metal shaped the way you want it, smooth out the edges with some sandpaper.

Step 9: Not Really a Step But Check Out the Blur

I was taking video of this project and thought the screen shots of the blur before the impact and the focus after the bounce were cool. These two images are the same hammer taken 1/30th of a second apart.

Step 10: Video

As usual, I made a video.

Thanks for watching and enjoy.

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    7 Discussions

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    wr1944

    18 days ago

    When I did metalworking 60 years ago in vocational school we used a sort of anvil to form metal. With a ball hammer and the anvil, you expand the metal by hammering it. As long as the metal is still thick and soft enough, you can go on in forming it. With the wood as an anvil you are restricted to the form of the dent. Most metals needed some annealing now and then. You could hear it from the sound. A dull sound meant it was still soft enough.

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    CHARLESCRANFORDwr1944

    Reply 10 days ago

    Metalworking is interesting. There are so many different techniques to get different results. Thank you for your comment.

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    tkjtkj

    18 days ago

    Copper + food = NoNo. but in other instances, that could be a very good suggestion!

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    CHARLESCRANFORDtkjtkj

    Reply 10 days ago

    I have heard that as well. Aluminum is used in all sorts of eating utensils but there is some speculation that it could be somewhat harmful as well. Thank you for the warning.

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    JohnM1409

    18 days ago on Step 2

    It is usual to use a leather bag filled with sand for this - also if you use copper you can anneal it in a hot flame when it work hardens. Steel is more difficult as it needs to cool slowly after annealing.

    The hammer is normally spelt Pein at least here in the UK

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    CHARLESCRANFORDJohnM1409

    Reply 10 days ago

    Thank you for the comment. I have seen all types of forming tools. The English wheel looks like it would be fun. This is more of a last minute simple process.

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    gralanJohnM1409

    Reply 17 days ago

    I'm glad I don't have to struggle with UK spelling here in the US. You probably feel the same way about our spelling. Here, it is correct for Ball Peen.