Luckily enough, I'd just purchased a pair of these tools a few days before when I discovered a local craft supply store selling them for 40 percent off. Whoo hoo! Now I'm going to run out and get a couple more.
I was a little nervous about the potential for kids to puncture themselves on the metal (I've done it to myself just opening the damn cans) so I used a pair of kitchen sheers to carefully cut the edges smooth, then tried mightily to impale my own fingertips without success. I assess the risk at about the level of a paper cut, although it might bleed a bit more if it happened.
When I demonstrated the process to the kids, I heard several voices rise up in a half-whispered, "Cool," at the idea they were going to be cutting metal. Some of them needed a little help squeezing the handles hard enough, but once they realized that it took two hands and real force, most of them managed it. It was a good thing we were wearing our safety glasses because some of the pieces really took off. Fitting the curved metal sheets into the slot was actually a bigger challenge. Next time I'm going to try to flatten the metal sheets: a night under something heavy will probably do it.
Kami strung her resulting discs of metal together to make sun-catchers, but we nailed ours to pieces of scrap wood.
Check out this brilliant technique!
Notice how our new workbench top is thin enough to
allow us to properly clamp the wood.
I can think of a number of ways to use this scrap aluminum now that I know we're not going to be spewing blood all over the place. After class, I was the first to mar the new workbench surface by testing to see if I could make an impression of a quarter in the metal by pounding it with a rubber mallet. I got a nice round shape, but no George Washington profile. I did, however leave a perfect circle in the wood below. (Sorry, Rob.) Something with a stronger relief might still work with this technique, which I think the kids would enjoy.
Of course, I'll bet our craft store sells tools for embossing paper that would work . . .
. . . or we could just use nails to draw pictures on rectangles of aluminum we've nailed to a board . . .
. . . or use nail holes to create patterns in the metal . . .
. . . or make perforated tea candle holders from the bottoms of the cans . . .
. . . or use the metal to manufacture vibration robots, vehicles, or other things . . .
. . . or string together sun-catchers (a la Kami) to hang in the garden to frighten off birds . . .
. . . or maybe we could fold it like origami . . .
I have some experimenting to do!