Punched Tin Panels have long been a favorite decorating feature in homes with a Colonial or Early American style. With the onset of the country look and primitive styles, they became even more popular. It is very easy to create your own and save a lot of money in the process. The tools you need you will most likely have around the house.
Tin is traditionally used and is much cheaper than brass or copper. Brass and copper give off a nice glow when light hits it and copper may age down to a wonderful verdigris finish that is desirable for an ancient look. 30 gauge is normally used in aluminum and brass and 29 gauge for copper. You can usually buy this in rolls at a home improvement store or by the panel in a craft store.
Tin punches come in many different sizes and shapes but a nail works just as well. Practice on an odd piece of metal to get the size holes you want.
Cut your metal to the desired size to fit the project you are doing. Be very careful as the edges are extremely sharp. Wear heavy gloves and sharp tin snips. If the piece has been on a roll, you will need to flatten it as flat as you can get it so it will be easier to work with. Lay it on top of a very thick or double thick piece of cardboard. Do this project on the sidewalk or workbench to avoid ruining a surface with a nail hole.
Chose your design. There are commercial patterns available where you buy your tin panels or you may draw your own. You can use things like cross-stitch patterns, coloring book pages or wallpaper designs for a custom look. You can lay your pattern directly on the metal or you can make holes in the pattern with a needle and then lay it on the metal and mark each hole with a fine tip marker. You may also make your design directly on the metal with the fine point marker, making a dot for each place a hole will be.
Tape your pattern to the metal so it won't move and, starting in the center, hold your nail on the dot, and hit it sharply with the hammer. You just want to pierce the metal, not drive the nail all the way through. You will learn how hard to hit as you work. When the design is finished, hold it to the light to see if all the holes are open.
After you have completed all your panels you may spray them with a fixative to keep the color as it is or let it age on its own. You can also use an antiquing medium that will change the color of the metal to make it look aged. You can also paint your panels. Try a crackled paint look for a vintage look.