Skull-A-Day 4.0 - Tutorial - #28: Punched Tin Skull

This project was inspired by a childhood memory of my parents using this technique to make small copper Christmas ornaments for us one year.

  • Sheet of thin metal - Mine is actually a piece of art that I got from Dollar Tree. I didn't need the animal image, so I punched through the back of it. You can get copper or tin from a hardware store, but you will have to cut it and fold over the edge. Mine was pre-folded
  • Hammer - For hammering the nail into the metal to punch holes.
  • Nails - Start with something with a small diameter that is long. If you need a larger diameter, it's easy to increase the hole size...but you can't decrease it once it's punched
  • Thick stack of newpaper or old phone book - To protect your work surface while punching. I used an old phone book, because it's what I had handy.
  • Piece of paper - To draw your design on
  • Pencil - To draw your design
  • Ruler - For drawing straight lines of course.
  • Colored pencil or marker - To mark out dots on the paper drawing. I did this for the skull and one flower, then realized it easier for my style, just to punch at the intersections the decide where other punches needed to go.
  • Tape - To secure your drawing to the metal
  • Time - Your hands will periodically hurt from holding the nail tightly and hammering, so you need lots of time to complete this...or your hands might go numb.


1) With your piece of metal, lay it on the white paper. Trace around the shape of it. In the photo, I've skewed the piece just so you can see the lines I drew with it centered on the paper.

2) My piece of metal has folded in edges. I should have used a ruler to drawn lines around the edge of the inner rectangle, so I could mark where those edges are on the paper. You can't hammer...or at least you shouldn't...through those edges. I forgot, but you should do that.

3) Fold your paper in quarters (half and half again). This is so you can center your design.

4) Draw your design on your paper.

5) Using the colored pencils or markers, mark the design intersections (where lines meet). Also make spaced out marks along the lines, so you get an idea of where you want your holes. You don't need to stick to this when you start the punching, but it's a nice visual to keep track of where you have and have not punched.

6) Hold your nail straight up and sturdy on one of the holes. Hammer several times until a hole is made. Check the back to make sure the holes are puncturing and not just denting the metal. Keep on doing this until you have completed your design. You can see the decorative cow that was printed on one side of the metal. I have a Holy Cow now...hehe.

7) Your hands will probably hurt after a while, you will need breaks.

8) If you are like me, you might give up on doing all of your design...I left out 4 flowers...because your hands hurt so much.

9) If you would like to hang your piece, punch two large holes at the top using the hammer and nail. String ribbon through those holes. Tie the ends together to create a loop. Hang it up.


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