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At this point, we have a nice glass lamp body, but nothing to hold the light source, and nothing to prevent anything from entering or exiting the lamp. I chose the Eden brand bean can because, unlike most other brands, it isn't lined with a BPA-containing plastic. It also has a nice band of non-corrugated steel at the top and bottom. Unfortunately, the corrugated bits shrink the inner diameter just enough to make its use with the glass body unworkable. However, it could work well with a slightly smaller diameter jar, such as the jelly jar I used in the previous step. I found that the best way to cut the thin steel without deforming it is to use a hacksaw, but not to just try to saw straight through.

Fit the hacksaw in the bottom groove of the corrugated section and draw the hacksaw towards you once. Then, rotate the can slightly, and repeat. Keep rotating the can, making one stroke with the saw until you start to wear through the steel. Resist the temptation to just saw straight through until there are little holes developing all around the groove you've cut. When you finally do cut through, the can should really just fall apart. Another benefit of this approach is that the little jags of steel that stick out after you've made the cut are paper-thin, and are less likely to cut you.

Note I said "less likely" not "unable. Drag the file, gently, perpendicular to the edge of the can, bringing up the little metal jags that have gotten folded inside to a vertical position, then file them off by drawing the file parallel to the side of the can. This will go a long way towards cleaning-up the edge.

Finish off with a relatively fine grade of sandpaper - I used super cheap grit. The edge should now be very smooth. If it's still sharp, go over it again, otherwise this next step is gonna suck. You're going to need to very gently flare out the rim of the can. This is because, although you filed and sanded off most of the indentation from the groove you've cut, there is still some narrowing due to the corrugation.

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Do this gradually, turning the can while trying to gently "roll" the steel edge outward. If you have something rounded, like a suitably-sized post cap, you can try to use that to flare the edge, but realize that this steel is very thin, and won't take much abuse. If there's going to be fire inside the lamp, we need vent holes in our lamp top. If you're just going for "safe mode" see below , then you can skip this step. The easiest vent holes would be round, and if that works for you, that's fine. It should be fairly easy to drill or pound a nail through the can lid and thoroughly aerate it.

However, I wasn't really feeling round for this part, so I went for the above design. It's slightly more complex than holes, but not so tricky that it would become a project in-and-of-itself. As you can see, I cut this out on a post-it note. It was sort of like making a very simple, eight-sided paper snowflake.

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Make sure that the form you use fits snugly inside the rim on the top of the can lid. You'll also want to make sure you don't remove too much metal, and weaken the lamp's structural integrity. As you can see, when I traced it onto the lid, I only used four of the shapes. The others served as guides when I rotated the stencil, and helped make sure that the shapes were drawn in the right places.

The downside to using the entire lid and rim is that you can't really get tin snips in there without totally destroying the top. I figured a jig saw would be too harsh. A coping saw could work, but the utility knife method did a decent job too. The important part is that you will not be cutting the curved bits with the knife. To cut the curves, drill a small hole at the top of each shape.

Start with a small bit, and then move up to a larger one. Don't get too big. The drill is generating a lot of torque, and if a large bit catches the metal, it will whip it around and probably tear the strips between the shapes. When the hole gets big enough, remove the metal pieces carefully. These are very sharp, and will make your fingers sad. Finish up the shapes with a round, small-toothed file and sand smooth.

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Any excess marker should come off with xylene. For the bottom piece, round vents worked for me. Drilling or nail pounding did not. On the bright side, the very fact that the metal was thin made the use of a paper hole-punch tool possible. It worked like a charm, and game me eight, equal-sized holes very rapidly. This part depends on your having another can that is just a bit larger than the first, and has a lip in the top. These are generally found on the "can-opener-free" style of lid used in Campbell's Chunky Soup cans.

I actually got mine from the trash at work. The lip on the can creates a nice overhang to which you can attach the vented piece. This part involves a little more trial and error than the other parts. If you don't have anything that works at home, and your co-workers are absurdly health-conscious, you can take the piece you have to the grocery store and attract a lot of stares by holding your art project up to the cans on the shelves to see if they'd make a good fit.

You may have to actually eat the contents of the can you purchase, but it's still pretty cheap at the price. Carefully sand off the plastic coating, and sand the lip while you're at it - that thing's sharp!


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Don't inhale the yucky BPA-laden dust. While my little flower or orange section design turned out okay, I wanted a lid for two reasons: 1 An extra layer of protection to keep things from falling inside. This was my first attempt at sinking metal, and it turned out better than I thought it might.

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I used a piece cut from an olive oil can because the metal was a little thicker than the soup can metal, and because it was smooth. I didn't have a sinking stump or doming block, but I thought that, given the thinness of the metal, and the curve of the ball peen hammer I was using, I could probably get away with using an old piece of carpet.

The technique is better described many other places, by people who really know what they're doing, but here's the basic idea: start in the middle of a circle of metal and gently tap the piece once with a ball peen hammer. Rotate the metal slightly, and strike the metal again, with an equivalent amount of force to the first strike. Keep rotating and striking, moving slowly out toward the edge. The metal will start to curl up, and if you keep going around, will eventually assume the shape of a bowl, or if you turn it over, a dome.

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If you're working the metal into a dramatically-curved dome, you will probably need to heat the metal until it glows to anneal or relax it. Otherwise, it becomes work-hardened, and will be more apt to tear as it thins. I was going for a pretty gentle curve, so I didn't anneal the piece. A few turns like this and I had At least, it looked kind of like a brain. I trimmed off the excess, and filed it until it fit the top piece of the lamp.