How to: Copper Tooling

Copper tooling is a type of metal art that is well suited for beginning artists. Copper craft foil, available in rolls from the craft store, is a thin sheet of copper that cuts relatively easily to fit any project. Special tools are not required to make design impressions in the copper; you probably have everything you need to make striking projects in your home tool box. Place finished copper tooling projects outdoors or inside your home for years of decoration.

Things You'll Need

  • Copper craft foil
  • Tin snips
  • Wood board
  • Newspaper
  • Tack
  • Metal stamping tool (ball peen hammer)
  • Rubber mallet
  • Tape
  • Design pattern (mirror image)
  • Stylus
  • Punch pattern
  • Hammer
  • Finishing nails

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Hammered Copper

Cut a sheet of copper craft foil 10 to 20 percent larger overall than the desired dimensions of the finished hammered copper project. The overall dimensions of the copper will shrink with each strike of the hammer. More strikes equal more shrinkage. Tin snips work best to cut the copper.

Cover a wood board that’s at least equal to the size of the copper sheet with a 1/2-inch thick layer of newspaper or other paper. Fit the copper on top of the paper and tack it in place on one corner to help secure it as you work.

Place the metal stamping design tool on top of the copper. Strike the top of the design tool with a rubber mallet to make an impression in the copper. You can also hit the copper sheet with the rounded end of a ball peen hammer.

Repeatedly strike the copper with your choice of design tool to cover all or part of the sheet with impressions.

Embossed Copper

Cut a copper sheet 10 percent larger overall than the desired dimensions of the finished project. Place the cut sheet onto a wood board covered with 1/2-inch of paper and tack it in place on one corner to help secure it in place as you work.

Tape a mirror image of your design pattern on top of the foil. Many inkjet printers have a mirror image option for printing. The mirror image is not necessary if the left-to-right structure of the pattern is not important. The embossed copper is on the opposite side of the one with the taped design pattern.

Trace over the design lines on the pattern with a stylus. Apply pressure as you follow the lines to make an impression in the copper. Follow this process to transfer the entire design to the copper foil.

Punched Copper

Cut a sheet of copper foil to fit a frame or a cabinet door insert. Tack the sheet to a wood board.

Tape a design pattern on top of the copper. A mirror image is not necessary.

Hammer finishing nails, or larger nails, through the lines of the design pattern and through the copper until the nail hits the wood. Space the nail holes between 1/4 and 1 inch apart along the design lines.

References

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