How to Punch Very Thin Metal Foil

Written by susanne koenig
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Punching holes in metal foil is a time-honoured craft. Metal foil punching crafts are often used as light shades and Christmas ornaments and in cupboard doors. Foils used for punching include aluminium foil, brass foil, pewter foil, steel foil and copper foil. Using a decorative pattern guide, you can easily produce foil projects and enhance them with back lighting. Patterns can be detailed or simple, depending on the project. Browse metal foil punching patterns online or in a metal crafts book.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Metal foil, 36-gauge
  • Gloves
  • Tin punch pattern
  • Rubber mallet or small hammer
  • Metal ruler
  • Tin snips
  • Clear tape
  • Universal point tool
  • Particle board or other wooden surface

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  1. 1

    Choose a metal. Copper and tin are popular choices for framed inserts, such as a pie safe. Pewter foil will eventually develop a nice patina.

  2. 2

    Put on your gloves and unroll the metal foil. Lay your pattern on the foil and trace its dimensions with a marker. Remove the pattern. If necessary, add an extra inch to this outside border to allow extra room to frame your work without losing any of the pattern behind the frame. Cut to size using tin snips.

  3. 3

    Lay your metal foil on a piece of particle board or another wooden work surface that you are not afraid to damage, such as a wooden cutting board. Tape the pattern to your metal foil using clear tape, taking care to stay inside the lines you've marked.

  4. 4

    Place the universal hole punch on the first marked hole of the pattern, starting in the upper left corner. Gently tap on the punch with a hammer until you feel the tip press through the metal.

  5. 5

    Repeat the punching along the marks of the pattern until complete.

Tips and warnings

  • For beginners, copper usually proves best as it is easiest to punch through.
  • Add embossing to your metal foil using a non-working ballpoint pen. Simply press down on the metal foil until you leave an indentation as if you're drawing, but with a bit more pressure.
  • Metal foil can have sharp edges.
  • The size of the hole will depend on the pressure with which you hit the tool, so be careful how much pressure you apply. You may want to experiment on a scrap piece of scrap metal foil before you start working with your pattern.

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