How to Cut Tin Sheets

Written by c.l. rease
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How to Cut Tin Sheets
Tin sheets are the raw material for constructing tin cans. (tin-opener image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from

Light-gauged tin sheets are thinner than standard sheet metal and are used in a broad range of construction and craft projects. When you have no sheet metal shear or specialised sheet-metal power shears available, it is still possible to produce a straight-cut edge across the tin sheet with snips. One type of snip in particular has large straight jaws that cut more precisely than aviation snips. Bulldog pattern snips are larger than aviation snips and have large handles that allow you better control while you are cutting tin sheets.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tin sheet
  • Worktable
  • Tape measure
  • Awl
  • Straightedge
  • Leather work gloves
  • Bulldog pattern snips

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  1. 1

    Place the tin sheet flat on top of the worktable.

  2. 2

    Stretch the tape measure one side of the tin sheet and place a mark with the awl at the length you need to cut the tin sheet. Move the tape measure to the side parallel to the side you just marked and repeat the process to place a second mark on the surface of the tin sheet.

  3. 3

    Align the straightedge with the two length marks you placed on the tin sheet in the previous step and drag the awl along the straightedge to give you a reference line for your cut.

  4. 4

    Remove the straightedge from the surface of the tin sheet and put on your leather work gloves.

  5. 5

    Hold the side of tin sheet to the left of the reference line off the worktable 1-inch with one hand, open the bulldog pattern snips with your other hand and slide the tin sheet into the jaws of the bulldog pattern snips.

  6. 6

    Cut along the reference line with the bulldog pattern snips while you continue to lift the left-hand side of the tin sheet. This alleviates the pressure applied by the tin sheet to the pattern snips, allowing you to cut the tin sheet more easily.

Tips and warnings

  • The ends of a tin sheet are sharp and can cause deep cuts with ease. Always wear leather gloves when handling a tin sheet.

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