Hammered Metal Key Rack
Use these step-by-step instructions to make a unique key holder.
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Our hammered metal key racks came out of retirement so we can update them using some of the products that are now in your craft stores. The first time around, which was many, many years ago, I scrounged through the throw-away items for materials. The metal pieces were cut-up drink cans, tennis ball cans, etc. The wood came from the discard pile at the lumber yard.
The plaques I made "back then" used the cans that were also made "back then." At that time many were made of heavier metal rather than the thin aluminum used in making today's cans, and the "colors" ranged from dull pewter to shiny silver to flat gold to bright gold. I've not tested many of the cans used today, but because the metal ends up being attached to a wooden plaque, the thin aluminum will still work because strength is not needed. The main problem with using today's cans is that they are trickier to cut. No longer do they fit perfectly into a can opener to remove both the top and bottom, but with a little elbow grease you can cut through the top ridge with serrated-edge kitchen shears or tin snips. Cut off the top, cut down the side to the bottom, cut around the bottom, and then cut out the side seam. Using your fingers, carefully reshape the resulting piece so you have a flat piece of metal. Trim all edges so they are straight.
* You can also use a 1-inch diameter dowel, 1/2-inch diameter dowel and hot glue gun. The dowels and glue gun are used to make a Glue Glob Dowel. Drop as many small globs of hot glue as possible onto the flat end of the dowel. When the glue hardens, it can be used to pound up and down on the metal to emboss.
The tennis ball cans, which are a shiny gold on the inside, seem not to have changed. The metal is heavier, but try cutting off the top and bottom by heading the can straight into an electric can opener. Cut out the side seam with heavy-duty scissors.
Note: Truth is, the one thing that seemed to make the biggest difference in the appearance of the plaques made "then" and "now" was not what was pounded on but what was pounded with. Using a nail or a short awl and pounding each hole individually gives a crisper, sharper look. It takes longer, but I personally like it better. If you decide to use this method, remember to pound the nail or awl hard enough to dent the metal, but do not pound through it!
Materials and Tools:
aluminum embossing metal
4" x 10" x 1/4" piece of basswood
stylus or ball point pen
key pattern (draw your own)
hammer & large nail or small awl*
8 upholstery tacks
four 1/2" washers
3/8" hole punch
scrap white card stock
1/4" alphabet stamps or K E Y S stickers
black ink pad
silicone-type clear glue
3 cup hooks
foam pad or mouse pad
1. Sand and stain basswood piece on all sides. Set aside to dry.
2. Draw key pattern then place on top of the embossing metal. Secure with small pieces of removable tape.
3. Place metal on a foam pad or mouse pad and trace around outline of key pattern with stylus. Remove pattern.
4. Turn metal over and "hammer" inside the lines using the glue glob dowels. Use the smaller dowel for the smaller portions of the key. NOTE: If using a nail and hammer or awl instead of the glue glob dowels, place the metal on a piece of scrap wood rather than a foam pad. Position the nail inside the outline and hammer once. Do this over and over and over until the entire key is filled in. You may, in fact, use the same pounding technique for the outline as well. Remember not to pound so hard that you go thru the metal.
5. Place hammered key on stained wood and secure with upholstery tacks.
6. To make the KEY letters, stamp the letters K, E, Y, S on white scrap card stock using the black ink pad. Stamp each letter far enough apart to allow for the 1/4-inch hole punch. Stickers can be used if you prefer.
7. Center each letter in the hole punch and punch out.
8. Put a small amount of silicone-type glue around the inside edge of each washer with a toothpick. Place each letter on top of a washer.
Jan Loney shares this very original idea for metal art spread fan decorated with key imprints.