Metalworking is a valuable skill that can be used in professional fields and as a hobby. Many schools have metalworking classes where students can learn skills from the beginner level. Sheet metal is a common material used in metalworking classes; it can be used to create everything from functional objects to artwork and toys. Basic sheet metal projects provide experience with tools like awls, ball-peen hammers, aviation snips, bar folders and combination squares.
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Students can make sheet metal toolboxes that can be used to carry their metalworking tools. A basic tool tray consists of an open rectangular box with a raised edge and a carry handle. To make the rectangular box, cut a piece of sheet metal to create a cross shape and then fold each tab up to create the sides. Attach the sheet metal to a small piece of metal pipe to make the carry handle. Another type of toolbox requires two open rectangular sheet metal trays attached to a larger bottom box with hinges and a latch. Alternatively, a single bend can be made in a piece of sheet metal to create a gabled lid that provides extra room at the top of a toolbox.
A pinwheel is a simple toy that consists of several blades that spin like a fan when air catches them. Have students cut a square of sheet metal and mark it with two diaognal lines from corner to corner. Next have them along the line a third of the way toward the centre from each corner. Curl every other corner to the centre point, overlapping the points. Punch a hole through the four points and the centre. Attach to a dowel.
Making armour from sheet metal is the ideal way to tie a history lesson to a metal shop class. Students can make shields, helmets and full body plate armour. To make the project even more challenging, remove all modern metalworking equipment from the classroom. Instead, require students to form the armour pieces using traditional tools, such as anvils and different types of hammers. Making full body armour is a time consuming project requiring flank plates, stomach plates, chest plates, and leg plates, as well as plates for the shoulders and arms. Although the normal curriculum may not allow enough time for all these pieces, this might be the ideal extra credit project for a student who is also a history buff.
A high school metalworking class can work in conjunction with an art class or with younger elementary school students to create metal art to decorate the schoolyard. Have the art students draw large pictures; the pictures may be original creations or revolve around a particular theme. Metalworking students can then transfer these drawings to sheet metal and cut out the pictures. Cutting out the pictures requires care and precision, but provides valuable practice with tin snips. If the drawing consisted of details, instead of a basic outline, the students can etch the details of the drawing into the metal. Powdercoat the metal and bolt them in place along a concrete wall.
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