Most metal food service cans are a combination of tin and steel. Beverage cans are usually made of aluminum. Both can be recycled into decorative floral arrangments with a little careful bending, cutting and crimping. Can lids are basically free, and using them to make home decor items keeps millions of pounds of metal out of local landfills. This reduction results in smaller fuel and handling bills for municipal solid waste haulers.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Black steel rebar tie
- Vise grips
- Needlenose pliers
- 2-inch by 4-inch by 4-inch wood block
- Can lids in various sizes
- Metal shears
- High-speed hand-held rotary tool with grinding attachment
- Plastic cement
- Votive or other candle holder
- Propane torch
Twist two six-inch long pieces of black steel rebar tie together for each three-inch diameter can lid, leaving 1/2-inch untwisted at one end. Curl both ends back on themselves using a pair of vise grips or needlenose pliers. Use 12-inch pieces for #10 restaurant size cans and the large tomato puree cans. Use four-inch pieces for tomato paste or mushroom cans.
Use a hammer, nail and 2-inch by 4-inch by 4-inch wood block to punch a hole in the center of your can lid.
Use metal shears to make six cuts from the edge of the lid to 1/4-inch away from the hole you punched in the center. Trim any sharp corners from the edges of your petals and smooth away any burrs with a high-speed hand-held rotary tool and grinding attachment.
Bend each petal into a "U" shape lengthwise, with pliers. Bend petal edges to make them look more realistic.
Bend the first petal to form the cup of the flower, as shown in "Graphics for Making Sheet Metal Flowers," in the Resources section of this article. Bend the one across from it next. Continue bending the one that is 90 degrees from the previous one until all petals have been brought to the center.
Slide the twisted wire stems you made in Step One through the center hole until the flower lodges on the bent end. Use a small drop of plastic cement to secure the stem at the bent spot, or solder the stem to the flower. Make several practice joints on a piece of scrap sheet steel and compare them to the ones in the first figure on the right side of the Soldering Guide in the Resources section of this article. Your soldered joints should be volcano-shaped.
Tips and warnings
- Metal accounts for 15.3 million tons of waste, according to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. Most food service cans are made of tin-plated steel. According to Recycle Steel.org, "Steel cans, lids and closures are recyclable and should be recycled...more than 65 percent of the steel produced in the United States is recycled."
- Always use 95/5 lead-free solder.
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