A Guide to Metal

And all the things you can make with it

By Staff Writer

Metals are versatile materials that have been used by craftsmen for centuries to create a wide range of objects, from tools and weapons to jewellery and decorative items. There are various types of metals, each with its own unique properties and characteristics. Here are some of the different types of metals and how crafters can use them:

Ferrous Metals:

Iron: Iron is one of the most common metals and is used in various forms, such as wrought iron, cast iron, and steel. Crafters can use iron to create structural components, tools, sculptures, and ornamental pieces. For example, blacksmiths use wrought iron to create intricate gates and railings, while steel is commonly used in knife making.

Steel: Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon and comes in many different grades and types. Crafters can use steel for a wide range of applications, including knife making, jewellery, sculptures, and architectural elements.

Non-Ferrous Metals:

Copper: Copper is known for its excellent electrical conductivity and malleability. Crafters use copper for jewellery making, wirework, and decorative elements like pots and vases.

Aluminium: Aluminium is lightweight and corrosion resistant. Crafters often use it for making aircraft parts, cookware, jewellery, and sculptures. It can also be anodized to create colourful finishes.

Brass: Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, known for its attractive golden colour. It’s commonly used in jewellery, musical instruments (e.g., trumpets), hardware, and decorative objects.

Bronze: Bronze is another copper alloy, typically composed of copper and tin. It’s known for its durability and is used in sculptures, statues, and coins.

Lead: Lead is a dense and malleable metal. It was historically used in stained glass production, but due to its toxicity, it’s now less common in crafts. Crafters should take precautions when working with lead.

Precious Metals:

Gold: Gold is highly valued for its beauty and rarity. Crafters use it extensively in jewellery making, including rings, necklaces, and earrings. It’s also used for decorative accents in art and architecture.

Silver: Silver is a versatile precious metal used for jewellery, tableware, and decorative objects. Silversmiths create intricate designs in items like silverware and candlesticks.

Exotic Metals:

Titanium: Titanium is lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and exceptionally strong. Crafters use it for making high-performance tools, jewellery, and even bicycle frames.

Nickel: Nickel alloys, such as stainless steel, are known for their corrosion resistance. They’re used in cutlery, kitchen appliances, and jewellery.

These are just a few examples of the many types of metals available to crafters. The choice of metal depends on the specific properties required for the project, such as strength, malleability, corrosion resistance, and appearance. Crafters should also consider safety precautions and environmental concerns when working with certain metals, especially those that may produce toxic fumes or dust during processing.

Now you know all about the different types of metals, why not turn your hand into making one of the following metal crafts?

1. Metal Jewellery:

  • Materials: Sheet metal (e.g., copper, silver, or brass), jewellery findings, tools (jewellery saw, files, pliers).
  • Instructions: Cut the metal into desired shapes, file the edges for smoothness, add textures or designs, attach findings (e.g., earring hooks or necklace chains), and polish the finished piece.

2. Metal Sculptures:

  • Materials: Various metal pieces (e.g., steel rods, sheets, or found objects), welding equipment (if needed), grinding and polishing tools.
  • Instructions: Sketch your sculpture’s design, cut, or shape metal pieces, accordingly, weld them together (if required), grind and polish the sculpture to achieve the desired finish.

3. Metal Candle Holders:

  • Materials: Sheet metal (e.g., brass or steel), metal-cutting tools, metalworking equipment, soldering tools (for intricate designs).
  • Instructions: Cut and shape the metal into the desired candle holder design, solder pieces together if necessary, and finish with polishing.

4. Metal Wall Art:

  • Materials: Sheet metal (various metals for colour contrast), metalworking tools, welding equipment (if needed).
  • Instructions: Cut the metal into desired shapes or designs, weld pieces together to create a layered effect, add texture or paint for a unique finish.

5. Metal Plant Stakes:

  • Materials: Steel or aluminium rods, metalworking tools (e.g., hacksaw, drill).
  • Instructions: Cut the metal rods into desired lengths, shape the tops into decorative forms (e.g., leaves or flowers), and optionally paint or add a protective finish.

6. Metal Embossing:

  • Materials: Soft metal sheets (e.g., aluminium or copper), embossing tools, templates, or stencils.
  • Instructions: Secure the metal sheet on a soft surface (e.g., rubber or foam), place your stencil on top, and use embossing tools to create designs by pressing into the metal.

7. Metal Keychains:

  • Materials: Thin metal sheets (e.g., aluminium), keychain rings, hole punch, metal stamps (for personalization).
  • Instructions: Cut metal into desired shapes, punch a hole near the top, add personalization with metal stamps, and attach a keychain ring.

8. Metal Garden Art:

  • Materials: Salvaged metal objects or sheets, metalworking tools, paint, or finish.
  • Instructions: As paint and shape metal pieces into garden sculptures, paint them with weather-resistant paint, and place them in your garden for decoration.

9. Metal Clocks:

  • Materials: Sheet metal, clock mechanisms, clock hands, tools (e.g., drill, saw).
  • Instructions: Cut the metal into a clock face shape, drill a hole for the clock mechanism, attach the mechanism and hands, and decorate the clock face as desired.

10. Metal Bookends:

  • Materials: Sheet metal (e.g., steel), metalworking tools, paint, or finish.
  • Instructions: Cut metal into bookend shapes, add weight or decorative elements as needed, and paint or finish for a polished look. Remember to prioritize safety when working with metal, especially when using power tools, welding equipment, or chemicals for finishing. Wear appropriate protective gear and follow safety guidelines to prevent accidents. Additionally, always consider the type of metal and its specific requirements for cutting, shaping, and finishing based on your chosen

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