Make a Tinwork Picture Frame

Decorate a piece of tin with sun rays and star punches for a one-of-a-kind Southwestern design.
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Artist Drew Coduti of Albuquerque, N.M., demonstrates how to punch and solder tin into a Southwestern-inspired picture frame.

Materials and Tools:

roll of tin
tin cutter or snips
metal punches, including three sizes of handmade half-star punches
hammer
ruler
scribe
rags
solder
soldering iron
flux
iron stand with sponge
sheet metal finger brake machine
pounding mat
oil
picture frame wire
fine-tip permanent marker
brass tube and rod
metal shear
arbor press
clavos (decorative nails)
safety glasses
butane torch
steel wool
acetone
picture
glass
glasscutter

Steps:

1. Cut a 10-1/2" x 8" piece of tin off the roll.

2. Draw the frame pieces on the tin with a permanent marker. The pieces are a frame, the pan and an easel.

3. Cut the tin pieces apart on a metal shear.

4. Draw the size of the opening (the size of your photo) on the frame with a marker and jig.

5. Scribe the fold lines on all the frame pieces.

6. Cut the corners on a diagonal with tin snips.

7. Punch four pilot holes in the center corners for the frame opening with a metal punch and hammer. Flatten the punched holes with an arbor press.

8. Cut the frame opening with tin snips.

9. Draw the design on the frame with a marker. Each corner features lines that extend from the opening of the frame to the outer edges, like sun rays, and each side of the frame features half-star designs in different sizes.

10. Punch the side portions of the design with various-sized handmade half-star punches and a mallet.

11. Score the straight-line corner designs with an awl and ruler.

12. Fold the tin pieces on all the fold lines on a sheet metal finger brake machine.

13. Attach the pan to the frame with solder and a soldering iron.

14. Create the frame hinge:

- Cut a 1 1/2-inch rod and a 1 1/2-inch brass tube
- Cut the tube into thirds
- Solder the two outer pieces of tubing to the frame
- Solder the center tube to the easel
- Insert the rod through the three tube pieces

15. Attach the easel to the pan about an 1/8-inch in from the edge with solder.

16. Attach wires for hanging the tinwork frame.

17. Fill the clavos (decorative nails) with solder.

18. Place the clavos on the front of the frame and attach them with a torch, which will melt the solder filling.

19. Clean the frame with acetone.

20. Buff the frame with steel wool.

21. Cut glass to size and insert glass and a picture into the frame.

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