When learning how to cut aluminum cans for crafts, the key is to take things safely and steadily! Fortunately, there are safer, more efficient ways to cut cans than with that pair of bargain scissors at the bottom of your junk drawer.
In this article, I’m going to give you a guide on how to cut soda and tin cans at home with minimum risk to your skin.
In a hurry? Here’s the quick guide:
To cut aluminum cans, use a can-opener to remove the thick metal tops and bottoms. Then, cut down the side with kitchen shears. Remove any excess or sharp bits of aluminum with the shears.
For the full step-by-step guide, keep reading!
How to Cut Soda Cans
Cutting soda cans is easy with a few tools you’re bound to have at home or in the toolbox, like can-openers, shears, and Exacto knives. Using the right tools with appropriate safety gear should make your crafting go a lot easier and a lot safer.
This is a task for the adult crafters amongst you – and, please be careful with sharp metal bits because they can surprise you! Just one wrong touch along a freshly cut metal edge could cause damage. Wear the thickest safety gloves you’ve got, and maybe even some protective goggles just to be extra sure.
Cutting Aluminum With A Can-Opener and Kitchen Shears
To cut aluminum with a can-opener and kitchen shears, you’ll need to firstly use the can-opener to cut off the thick, metal top and bottom. Then, you’ll cut down the side with the kitchen shears and trim the edges.
For this method, wear some thick fabric gloves. It is recommended to use kitchen shears because they are powerful without any serration. Do not use your fabric or paper scissors for this, as they will never be the same.
To start, position your can opener so the blade is on the outside edge of the can. Work your way around the top and the bottom segments to remove them completely from the sides.
Then, make a vertical cut along the tube with your kitchen shears so you have a long sheet of metal.
The sheet may be bent from where the metal meets the top and bottom, so remove these with your shears, and make sure to remove any burrs on the edges.
When you have a long, flat sheet, you can wash it by filling the sink with warm, soapy water and letting it soak. Drain the water and let them dry in the sink, then use a sponge to make sure you get off any sticky residue. Continue wearing your fabric gloves while you wash your metal sheets.
Cutting Cans with an Aluminium Can Cutter
To remove the tops and bottoms of cans, you can use a can cutter. Simply place the tool on top of the can and squeeze the handle. Twist the device until you’ve cut all the way around, then release the lever to pull the top off of the can.
On Amazon, you can purchase, essentially, a beer can opener. This device can run as high as $30, but there are cheaper versions from around $10 that do the same thing, though maybe not as easily.
To cut the metal off the top of the can, leaving a smooth, open cavity in your aluminum, you may or may not want to empty the can first. Either way, to use the cutter, place the opening over the top of the can and squeeze the handle to secure it in place.
Next, twist the can cutter around in a circle, so the blades on the inside can sever the inside of the top of the can, leaving the hard outer lip. Release the handle to pull the cutter off of the can.
The cut should be relatively smooth, so using a device like this might make it easier to make cleaner-looking receptacles.
How To Cut Tin Can at Home
Cutting tin at home is a little harder than cutting aluminum. The thicker metal won’t be managed so easily with tools you already have. To do it safely and effectively, you might need some special tools, but you’ll definitely need some safety equipment.
How to Remove the Bottom of a Tin Can
To remove the bottom of a tin can, you can either use a can opener, a tin-cutter, or a Dremel. A can-opener won’t be able to remove the hard outer lip of the tin, while a tin cutter and Dremel could cut the bottom edge completely off.
How to Cut the Bottom of a Tin Can With a Tin Cutter
To remove the bottom of a tin can with a tin cutter, make a cylinder with the can using a can-opener on both ends. When you have a hole all the way through the middle, use the tin cutter like scissors to cut a vertical slit in the can.
Tin cutters, also called tin snips, sell for around $14 on Amazon. They are really thick shears with heavy-duty handles and can cut through tin as scissors cut through paper.
For this step, make sure you’re wearing your thick, fabric gloves.
To begin, remove the top and bottom of the can with a can-opener. This won’t get rid of the outer lips, but it will give you room to make a cut with the cutter.
With the tin cutters, cut a vertical slit down the middle. Once it’s a sheet instead of a cylinder, you can use the cutters to remove the lips of the can. If you have sharp edges on the tin, use a 320 or higher grit sandpaper to dull them.
Since cans rust so easily, try washing them the traditional way with a soapy sponge and water, then hand-drying them.
Cutting Tin Cans with a Dremel
To cut through tin with a Dremel, use a cutting attachment sufficient for metal. Clamp the can down and use both hands to position the Dremel. Run the tool on a medium or high setting and let the blade make the cuts where you want them.
Warning: Before using a Dremel tool, be sure you know what you are doing and take proper safety precautions! If you are not comfortable using one, seek professional or experienced help first!
For this step, cut your cans outside, as there will be sparks and debris. Wear safety goggles, a dust mask, and fabric gloves to be safe from flying bits of metal and sharp edges.
To begin with, attach a cutting wheel sufficient to cut through metal. Amazon recommends a 15/16” heavy-duty cut-off wheel. If you wanted to use a Dremel to cut through aluminum the same way, you could settle for a fiberglass-reinforced cut-off wheel.
After removing the top and bottom of the can, you can tape the bottom of the can onto a sturdy surface by clamping the edges down so you have both hands for the Dremel.
Steadily, hold the tool with both hands and dip the blade into the metal on a medium or high setting. You can either use this dipping motion repeatedly or slowly and steadily cut in a straight, smooth line to make a continuous cut.
Make sure you sand off the sharp edges with that 320 grit sandpaper and wash the inside.
Hopefully, these few methods kept your fingers safe and didn’t ruin your only pair of household scissors! While you can do most of these methods with things you have at home, it would definitely be helpful to have some heavy-duty tools to get the job done quicker.
I’ve spent years cutting up cans for various craft purposes – and yes, I’ve accidentally cut a finger or two! Take my advice and exercise safety first – protect your digits!