If you're interested in metalworking, don't get intimidated by the process. There are tons of easy metalworking projects that are easy enough for a beginner to tackle. As with any new endeavor, be patient with yourself and don't expect perfection on your first try — but have fun too.
Before you start your metalworking project, make sure you put safety first. Make sure you have eye and hand protection and that you're wearing the appropriate clothing. Make sure your work area is safe and distraction-free and that you also have a face mask to protect your lungs. Metalworking will definitely get you dirty, so don't wear clothes that you want to keep nice. We also recommend working with an experienced mentor the first few times you tackle a project. A mentor will not only make the process easier but will know how to keep you safe as you melt all that metal.
You will need to purchase a few supplies before you begin working with metals. Every project is different and will require different tools, which is why it's helpful to get help from a current metalworker. We recommend picking up the following tools: metalworking scissors, tin snips, ball vices, a riveting hammer, a scratch awl, a ball-peen hammer, and a rawhide mallet — but this is not an exhaustive list. You will need several other supplies depending on the project.
You can use old copper pipes to make your own copper mugs. You will need a 3/4" copper pipe to work with that can be picked up at a supply store or even a scrapyard. For this project, you will also need a solder, a propane torch, and Sawzall in addition to the other supplies. Start by cutting the copper pipe length-wise and pounding it out. Then, wrap the copper around a from and secure it with a clamp. Then solder the joint. After you've soldered the joint with lead-free solder, solder a piece for the bottom and then cut it to shape. Then solder the bottom on. Make a handle out of whatever shape you'd like and then attach it to the cup in the same way as the other parts. Once you're done, clean the cups and polish them up with a wire brush so that they're ready for your favorite beverage.
Metalworking has been used to make jewelry for centuries, and it's a fun, easy place to start. While metalwork jewelry can get very complicated, it doesn't have to be. Start by shaping old pieces of metal or copper into a necklace pendant and work your way up to something more complicated, like a ring. Jewelry making requires patience so go slow and don't rush it. Because you're creating something so small, you will need to make small, intentional choices when it comes to shaping and creating your piece. For these projects, you will need a way to heat your metal so that it can be shaped.
Whether you're looking for seasonal decor or a unique gift, copper leaves are a great go-to. You can create copper leaves by cutting sheets of copper into a leaf shape and then using your metalworking tools to shape and texture the leaves. Using your hammer and mallet, you can create small textures and divets in the leaves so that they stand out and create a more realistic leaf shape. This project is fast, easy, and doesn't require any heat.
A more advanced technique, but still okay for beginners with a little work under their tool belt is metal inlay in wood. Metal inlaying isn't as scary as it may seem, you just need to go slow and be safe. Start by creating the woodwork item that you want to add metal to. Maybe a cutting board or some wooden dice. Make sure you carve out a space for your melted metal. Then, melt down your metal of choice and slowly pour it into the wood piece. Go slow and be careful not to overfill the wood divets. Once you're done, let the piece set completely before you move it at all.
Are you a more advanced metalworker? Give this metalworking project a try.