How-To: Tin Can Punch Light

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Punched metal is a classic technique used worldwide that transforms tin scraps and old cans into beautiful and delicate pieces of art. This project uses a recycled tomato can filled with ice to create a sturdy and safe candle holder. The standard motifs for this type of project include hearts, stars, and spirals, but I was inspired by the flickering lights of the EQ sound frequency display on my car stereo. Download the PDF of my pattern, or print your own onto photo paper to make a template to work from. Photo paper is my secret weapon because it resists the condensation and holds up to the nail and hammer.


Step 1: Fill the can with water and let it freeze overnight. This method is the easiest, but when I pulled my can out of the freezer, the ice had expanded and the bottom buckled out. This can be remedied with a hammer at the end, but if you want to avoid that, add water to the can and freeze it 1″ at a time. This way the bottom will freeze before the top and prevent downward expansion.
Step 2: Measure your can and create a design. I removed the label from the can and used it’s dimensions as a template. My design was inspired by an old EQ display and couldn’t be more simple. Download the PDF and print it onto photo paper, or create your own unique pattern.
Tape your pattern to the can. I used a wide can and because the diameter of the can is longer than the 11″ standard paper length, I printed two patterns and then cut them up to fit all the way around the can. If you use a standard can, one sheet of paper will work perfectly. When you tape it down, be sure to secure it well. Twisting and sliding will make it more difficult to be precise.
Step 3: Lay out a folded towel on your worksurface. This will keep the can from rolling around and help dampen the sound. Use the nail and hammer to pierce the holes. Because the ice will chip away as you go, work from the top down. Follow along the first row of points, gently hitting the nail into the tin where ever there is a mark. It will take a bit of practice to get your pressure consistent, but this is not hard to do. Work the template until you have all the points pierced.
Step 5: Remove the pattern and run your can under water to melt the ice. If your can won’t sit flat, hammer the bottom back down. Add a candle, and enjoy the old-timey atmosphere!

14 thoughts on “How-To: Tin Can Punch Light

  1. Aimee says:

    I love the ice inside to keep your can from collapsing! What a clever solution!

  2. murat says:

    These models are very beautiful. Some examples of models of classical chandelier

  3. maria l rios says:

    Thanks for sharing this awesome tutorial. I would like to create my own pattern, but what sotfware did you use to make your pattern framed with just dots???Thanks.

  4. M says:

    just take a drill and make holes just tha same.

  5. Jingalala says:

    Lovely. I will try this and post it in my blog. Thank you!

  6. Badge: Night Crafts — larajla creates says:

    […] […]

  7. Cantastic Storage in Your Home | The Storage Blog says:

    […] you can do now, Pure Green Magazine shows you how to build a candle holder using an upcycled can. Makezine has some great patterns to help get you […]

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