Securing the pattern to the panel

Tin panels and the tools used to punch holes in them are available from folk-art supply houses. The best way to punch the holes in the panels so they are all the same is to use a pattern as a template. Several common patterns are illustrated on page 111; use a photocopier with an enlargement feature to produce a version of the desired pattern that is the same size as your panels. Then set one of the panels inside-face up on a backup board, center the pattern on the panel, and fix the paper to the tin with masking tape. To secure the panel to the backup board, use push pins, tapping them into the board every few inches around the perimeter of the panel.

Wooden peg

Backup board

Tin Patterns

Backup board


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3ae\c punch

Ideal for making geometric patterns because it produces holes of uniform size; this punch leaves a smooth edge on both sides of the panel

Lamp maker's chisel

Produces a smooth, elongated hole; traditionally used in lantern making

Curved chisel

Makes crescent moon-shaped cuts; traditionally used when lighting was positioned behind the panels

Star punch

Traditionally one of the most commonly used shapes

Diamond punch

Ideal for the edges of patterns; a traditional choice when lighting was used behind the panels

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Pineapple punch

Produces the burrs on pineapple patterns

Courtesy of Country Accents, Montoursville, PA

2 Punching the holes

Use a hammer and the appropriate punch or chisel for the type of hole you wish to produce. Holding the punch vertically on one of the pattern holes, strike the tool with the hammer (right). A minimum amount of force is needed to puncture the panel; the harder you strike the punch, the larger the hole will be. Punch all the holes the same way, changing to a different punch or chisel as necessary. If you are using a metal other than tin for the panels, such as mild steel, you will need to file the sharp edges of the holes on the outside face of the panels. With tin, filing is not necessary.

Tin Punch Patterns
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