Breaking Down a Tin (for use in jewelry and other crafts)

Upcycling found and thrifted items has been a passion of mine for years. When I started seeing other artists using old cookie tins in their work, I was intrigued. It took me some time to figure it out, and I'm still tweaking my techniques. However, I've had other artists ask how I break down the tin, and I'm always happy to help.

I've got a quick video that shows the process in detail, but here you'll find a good look at the materials and steps. (I'll share the video at the end of this post too.)

First, here are the materials.

The tin of your choice (the shape isn't important), protective gloves, protective eyewear/safety glasses, heavy-duty tin snips, heavy-duty wire cutters, and my favorite tin snips

Let me go ahead and admit that my first step(s) isn't completely necessary to begin with and can be done at the end. But, I start by locating the seam inside the tin. 


Then, I use my heavy-duty tin snips to cut the rolled edge and down the side of the seam.

(Those are the steps that can wait if you want.)

From there, use your heavy-duty angled wire cutters to start pulling up (unrolling) the bottom edge. This is the part that might be best explained in the video. 


As you work around the tin, it may come loose from the bottom (some do, some don't).


Unroll all the way around your tin.


If the bottom doesn't come loose on its own, simply push it out.


From there, you can cut your tin down to size. (This might be when you cut down the side of the seam if you didn't do it to start.)


Alternately, if you can't or don't want to unroll the bottom edge, you can also use either of your tin snips to snip along it. However, I've found that that method wastes some of the tin and can be a bit cumbersome. But, you decide for yourself. 

Now that your tin is cut down, you can also cut down the lid, which I share how to do in the Breaking Down a Tin video.

And, if you're wondering what you can do with the tins you've cut down, here are a few examples from my Etsy shop of how I've used tins in jewelry.

Mossy Map Earrings

Tin Cone Necklace

Textured Tin Earrings

Flower Love Necklace

I hope you have some fun treasure hunting for tins around your house or at secondhand stores. Don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions! And, please share what you've made with your old tins. 

Comments

  1. Oh, yes, very much appreciated! I kept a Christmas tin from last year with the intention to use it... one day :) My husband keeps asking and forgetting why have I kept it but I hope it will survive to the day I try to use it, eventually. And all this just because I am so inspired by your tin makes :)

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  2. Hope- This is an outstanding blog and video for crafters. Well done!

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    1. Kathy, Thank you SO MUCH! I hate that it's taken me so long to share such a basic technique. But, like everything else, I'm still learning too.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this video, I have wondered how to make the first cut, particularly on the lid. What kind of gloves do your wear? Do they need to be heavy duty wire snipping gloves? I have one like that but I find it too cumbersome and tight (the elasticated part on the wrist which I understand is for my own good).

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    1. I know you had asked about my process. Sorry it takes so long to get these videos prepped and up, my slow internet makes it hard to get much done quickly at home. As for your other questions...the gloves I use aren't expensive or anything. They're general hardware gloves that I purchased at a discount hardware store. The big thing for me is to make sure the front (palm and fingertip) is coated with rubber so that those little burs and pokey edges don't get you. I'm not sure what wire snipping gloves are so I'm not sure if those would work. Mine are nothing special, just rubberized.

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