Posted by: andy idsinga | December 4, 2010

Metal work – my first hammer forming project

I’ve been wanting to get into metal work for a while. In this post I’m sharing a metal bowl that I beat out of some galvanized sheet metal.

When I was a kid one of our neighbors was a retired welder (I believe for GM.. his name was Basil Dey). Anyhow, Basil was a super nice guy and had a huge shop in his back yard where he was constantly welding things – artistic and utilitarian in nature. He used to make these large metal mail boxes that looked like a black tin man holding up a mail box.
I used to go over there and watch him work and he would encourage me to put on an arc welding helmet and look closer at what he was doing. I had no idea what I was looking at, but it was totally cool and since then I’ve wanted to learn how to work with metal.

Okay, so a couple weekends ago I dusted off my metal working book (amazon link) and started working on making a metal bowl out of some galvanized sheet metal I had kicking around.

The bowl project is really just an exercise for the beginner to learn about how metal stretches and shrinks as when you hit it with different kinds of tools. Its quite amazing actually – when working metal, you sort of think of it as you might think of dough when baking. It stretches and shrinks – and your job is to understand it and work it into the desired shape.

The key lesson : hitting metal with a metal tool stretches the metal and hitting the metal with non-metal tools (i.e. wooden mallet) shrinks it.

So, in the first picture – I’m showing you the round piece that will become the bowl. I used aviation snips to cut it out of a piece of galvanized sheet metal that used to be a wall mounting plate for a microwave oven. I saved this piece of metal from my kitchen remodeling project.

Here are two more pictures showing both sides of the “work in progress” bowl. I used two different hammers – the one on the left is from my “body and fender” hammer and dolly kit. The right one is just a regular old hammer I used to do most of the stretching. The black thing underneath the bowl is a used leather purse filled with sand – my shot bag. I put the metal piece on top of the shot bag ..and hammer it there. I got the idea for using an old purse and sand from this amazing metal worker.

Its nothing fancy – I’m a totally beginner – but it was surprisingly fun.

I’m off to pound on it some more – this time with a rubber mallet.

I’ll write another post when the bowl is smoother …and eventually get some paint on it.



  1. Hey Andrer did you get that hammer we talked about in Jan?

  2. Thanks for sharing this! I like how you used ordinary tools and supplies, especially repurposing the metal into a work of art =)

    • Thanks Jenn ..gosh i need to get that done and post the results :)

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