Making Metal Working Tools from Popsicle Sticks

Over the last few weeks we have been exploring the use of the Crop-A-Dile tool in the classroom. So far students have used the tool to make objects out of paper straws, cardboard, thick paper, popsicle sticks and aluminum business card blanks. This post looks at using the tool to actually make another tool.

Last week out students explored how creasing metal will increase the rigidity of a thin metal panel. That led us to think about making a tool that can crease and bend metal harvested from aluminum cans. To make a tool like this we want two parts: #1) a surface with a gap that will set the width of the crease and #2) a tool to push the sheet metal into that gap uniformly. The picture above outlines the steps to make the new tool.

Step #1 Gather one large craft stick and two regular size popsicle sticks along with a ruler, Crop-A-Dile, 4 extra long 1/8" eyelets and some scrap aluminum metal from a soda can. Punch 1/8" holes in the ends of the popsicle sticks and craft sticks so the popsicle sticks cover the side edges of the craft stick by the thickness of a single popsicle stick in the next step.

Step#2 Use the Crop-A-Dile tool to fasten the popsicle sticks down to the larger craft stick with a parallel gap of exactly one popsicle stick thickness. You can use a precise ruler or physically space the sticks with another popsicle stick lying on edge in the gap.

Step #3 You should be able to place a single popsicle stick on edge between the other two sticks so that it is tight enough that it can stand at an angle without support.

Step #4 You can now use the tool! Place the aluminum sheet on the new tool and use another popsicle stick as a pusher to run down the sheet and cause it to crease along the gap between the two sticks on the base.

Step #5 Start thinking about what you can do with a student made tool like this. We can now crease and bend metal easily in class!

 This tools takes less than a minute to build (after a you build a few of them) and allows students to form aluminum sheets recycled from soda cans.

This tools takes less than a minute to build (after a you build a few of them) and allows students to form aluminum sheets recycled from soda cans.