Instructions for Making a Pinwheel From an Aluminum Can

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Things You'll Need

  • Aluminum can
  • Sharp tin snips
  • Safety glasses/goggles
  • Gloves
  • Ruler
  • Permanent marker
  • Seven-penny nail
  • Hammer
  • Scrap 2-inch by 4-inch lumber
  • 1/2-inch dowel
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Drill bit
  • 1/8-inch diameter bolt 1 1/4-inch long
  • 2, 1/8-inch-hole diameter washers
  • 1/8-inch nut

Pinwheels are designed to capture the wind and turn freely on a solid base. The colorful design on the pinwheel creates a unique pattern while it is turning. Printed aluminum cans are ideal material to create a pinwheel because of the material's flexibility and its ability to withstand the elements. Making a pinwheel is a great way to upcycle a used can into a yard ornament.

Place the aluminum can on its side. Draw a straight line from the top of the can to the bottom using a permanent marker.

Put on the safety glasses/goggles and gloves. Carefully cut off the top and bottom of the aluminium can to create smooth even cuts. Position the cut so it is directly under the top rim and just above the bottom rim or bottom curve. Discard the top and bottom of the can. Cut along the drawn line to create a large rectangle of aluminum.

Flip the aluminum over so the shiny inside of the can is on the surface. Measure the shape from top to bottom and side to side. Use the smallest dimension to draw a set of lines to create a square. For example, an aluminum pop/soda can when cut will be approximately 3 1/2-inches high. Two straight lines are drawn from the bottom to the top of the can 3 1/2-inches apart to create a 3 1/2-inch by 3 1/2-inch square.

Place a ruler diagonally across the square from corner to corner. Measure and mark a line 2 1/8-inch long from the both corners toward the center of the square. A 1-inch void will appear between the two marks. Repeat the process with the opposite two corners.

Mark the center of the square with the point of the permanent marker. Place a mark 1/8-inch from the upper left hand corner. Turn the ruler so it is perpendicular to the top edge. Place a mark at 1/8-inch with the permanent marker. Turn the square a quarter turn. Repeat the marking process until all four corners have a mark 1/8-inch in from the corner.

Cut along the drawn lines. Begin by cutting the two straight lines to create the 3 1/2-inch by 3 1/2-inch square. Then cut along the diagonal lines.

Place the cut 3 1/2-inch square on a scrap piece of 2-inch by 4-inch lumber so the measured marks are on the surface. Position a seven-penny nail over the center mark. Hit the seven-penny nail with a hammer and pierce the aluminum can. Repeat the process on the four marks 1/8-inch in from the four corners. Set aside.

Measure and mark a 1/2-inch dowel with a mark 1 inch from the end. Drill a 1/8-inch hole straight through the dowel.

Insert the 1/8-inch bolt through the hole in the dowel. Place a washer on the end of the bolt.

Place the center hole of the 3 1/2-inch by 3 1/2-inch aluminum on the bolt. Begin with the upper left hand corner and place the hole 1/8-inch in from the corner over the bolt. Turn the square one quarter turn and place the next corner hole over the bolt. Repeat the process until all four corner holes are positioned on the bolt.

Place a washer over the end of the bolt. Secure the washers and aluminum can to the bolt with a nut.