How to Make Sheet Metal Art


You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on garden gnomes and other yard adornments when you can make sheet metal art. Sheet metal is thin enough to cut, supple enough to bend and durable enough to stand up to the elements. It also makes for great indoor art if you prefer. Sheet metal can be found as debris near construction sites or purchased at your local salvage yard or home improvement store. It takes a little precision, a lot of caution and a few simple steps to make sheet metal art. Read on to learn how to make sheet metal art.

Things You'll Need

  • Sheet metal
  • Marker
  • Snips
  • Pliers for bending
  • Paint
  • Imagination
  • Decide what you want to make. Masks, snakes, spiders, angels, vines, flowers, skulls…the world is yours with sheet metal. As the metal is thin, you will either need a place to prop a flat piece or rocks to secure a cylindrical piece as the stuff can blow away if it’s not held down.

  • Gather enough sheet metal for your creation. Don’t be discouraged if you cannot find flat pieces of sheet metal. The metal frequently comes as a tube which you can easily cut through and flatten.

  • Sketch an outline of your design on the sheet metal with a thick marker. Don’t worry about the lines as you will be painting the finished product anyway.

  • Use a quality pair of snips to cut along your sketched outline. The cutting will be annoying until you get the hang of it. If you are cutting out a large piece, bend one side of the metal down and the other upwards as you are cutting through it. Otherwise your snips will just get stuck.

  • Bend, curve and twist the ends of the metal with a pair of pliers. You can also do this by hand, as sheet metal is supple enough, but pliers will give you a tighter twist and more acute angle if needed.

  • Paint it. Spray paint works well on sheet metal, as it can evenly coat without brush strokes showing. Sponge brushes also make a nice effect. If you are placing the sheet metal art outdoors, make sure you use a weatherproof paint or spray with a sealer.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you find an interesting tube, shape or other piece of sheet metal, you can work with the existing shape without having to cut it at all. Let the piece you find guide you.
  • Sheet metal art looks smashing when hung from trellises with some wire or even coiled around fence or porch posts and secured with nails and more wire.
  • Indoor sheet metal art can adorn the legs of a table or chair, a wall or even be nailed to the ceiling for a blast of art in the least expected places.
  • When you paint the metal, make sure absolutely no hint of the silver metal comes through or it will look tacky.
  • Sheet metal is sharp and often turns into shards when cut. Keep a small bin for loose pieces as you cut it so no one steps on them in the future.
  • Notches, curves and even spikes or tendrils work well with sheet metal.
  • You may want to wear gloves to protect your hands as you are cutting the metal. The metal ends are razor sharp.
  • If your cuts are uneven, jagged or filled with little spikes, you can always bend the edges with pliers instead of trying to get a perfect cut.
  • Be very careful hanging or arranging your sheet metal art, as well. Those little edges make a deep cut.

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