How to Make a Model Car Out of Tin

Illustrations by Andrew DeWitt

Things You'll Need

  • Tin snips
  • 2 sheets of 6-inch-by-12-inch craft tin
  • Pencil
  • X-Acto knife
  • 100-grit sand paper
  • Hammer
  • 1 inch diameter metal pipe
  • 12 inch long 1/2 inch diameter dowel rod
  • Super glue
  • Enamel model paint
  • Paint brush
  • Compass

Many old-fashioned toys and models were made of tin because it could be easily shaped into many things. A great project for any model-car enthusiast is the Tin Lizzie itself, the Ford Model T. It was the first car to be mass produced that was affordable for the working class.

Cut five 2-inch squares out of the tin sheet with tin snips. For the back window, cut a long, thin rectangle out of the top section of one of the tin pieces. For the two side windows cut out the middle section so you are left with a tin frame. For the front, cut out two rectangles, one on top of the other to create the dual front windows of the Model T. Keep the fifth piece intact for the roof.

Cut out a 2x3 inch rectangle from tin for the hood. Place this over a 1-inch diameter metal pipe and gently hammer the rectangle so that it takes on a rounded shape like half a cylinder. Cut out a baseball style home plate shape that is 1 1/2 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches tall for the grill. Cut out two circles that are 1/4 inch in diameter for the headlights. Use a compass to measure the circles and the X-Acto to remove them.

Create the sides of the Model T by cutting out a rectangle that is 6 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Place the left and right side over the metal pipe and gently hammer the sides to create a raised curved shape. Repeat this for the other side. Trace out eight wheels 2 inches in diameter using a compass. Cut these out and glue two together for each wheel to reinforce the wheel.

Cut two wooden dowel rods 3 inches long. Glue a wheel to each side of the dowel rod. Glue the headlights to the upper left and right corners of the grill. Glue the grill to the hood of the car. Glue the cab of the car together by placing the roof upside down on a table. Draw a bead of glue around the corners of the roof. Place a bead of glue on the left and right edge of each side of the car and place them upside down on top of the roof. Rest a soda can or cup by each side so that they will stay erect while the glue dries.

Let the glue dry for two hours. Glue the sides of the Model T to the sides of the cab. Glue the hood and grill to the front of the cab. Let this dry for two hours. Place a bead of glue across the top of dowel rods with the wheels and rest the car on top.

Let the glue dry for another two hours. Paint the entire Model T in black enamel model paint. Add yellow to the headlights and a line of red enamel trim around the windows, sides and grill.


  • Use a ruler to make sure you trace out the lines


  • Sand any sharp edges that arise from cutting the tin. Use 100 grit sand paper to avoid cutting yourself.