Thursday, 19 December 2013

Tree decorations made from copper tube ...

This year I've had a go at making some decorations for our Christmas tree from some old copper tube, it's not the first time I've used copper tube for a project, but it has to be said it's normally for siege engine parts, perhaps not all that festive, unless you intend to fire mince pies at the neighbours.

It has to be said I'm still not sure if I'm happy with them -

Polished and ready for the tree.

You might be thinking they don't look very tube like, well you'd be right, but an easy way to get small sheets of metal for crafting is to use old tubing, in this case copper, but you can do this with more or less any metal tube, as long as the tubing isn't very thick, trying this with a scaffolding pole won't work because of the thickness of the tubes walls, and some metals are easier to bend than others, you will need a hacksaw or a pipe cutting tool to do this, along with two sets of pliers and a hammer, and some metal cutters (tin snips) for cutting the metal once it's been flattened and a shape marked out, and lastly a drill for drilling a hole for hanging them.

It's not that hard to turn tube into decoration - 

From tube to decoration.

To turn a bit of copper tube into a small sheet is easy, firstly you need to measure round the tube to find out it's circumference, this is easy to do with a flexible tape measure.

Measuring the tube - 

In this case it's 7cm.

Once you have the measurement (for the tube I used it was 7cm) you then need to measure a length of tube that is the same, so for me 7cm in length, then cut the tube.

Next you need to cut the tube length ways - 

Cut the tube from one end to the other.
 Again a hacksaw is ideal for this, or you can use a metal cutting disc in a multi tool (like a dremel) once you've cut the tube you need to bend it out with the pliers.

Bending the tube - 

Bit of brute force required.

Use the pliers to bend the tube outwards, then once it's more or less flat use a hammer to flatten it out, and when you're finished you should have a more or less square sheet of metal.

My metal ready for marking - 

Simple shapes are easy to cut out.

For the shape I just used one of my wife's pastry cutters as a template, and using a scriber (a pointed tool for marking metal) I marked out the shape, you can also use a marker pen to mark out the metal.

Shape marked out - 

Ready for cutting.

Tin snips (metal cutters) ready - 

I've had these for ages.

You get a set of tin snips online for as little as £5 and they are very handy for cutting metal. 

Cutting out the shape is easy enough, it's like using scissors, but with a bit more effort involved.

Here's my shape cut out - 

Ready for stamping.

It's a good idea to use thick gloves when cutting out metal as it can be sharp, and once you've cut out a shape it's also a good idea to either smooth off any sharp edges with a file, or some sand paper to avoid cut fingers, you can also use sandpaper to clean the metal up a bit before polishing.

For the lettering I used some letter stamps I have, these can be picked up cheaply from places like Screwfix or online, and to use them is just a case of working out what you want to stamp out and then giving the end of the stamp a good smack with a hammer, thicker metal will require more of a smack to get the letters to come out.

One of the decorations with just lettering - 

You can stamp anything you like onto the metal.

The heart shapes on some of the decorations were made by drilling three holes into the metal, two side by side with one underneath.

Starting the heart shape - 

Holes drilled, now for some filing.

Once I'd drilled the three holes I just used a small file to make a heart shape, it doesn't take long, and softer metals will be easier to file.

Heart shape done - 

Sort of heart shaped.

To hang the decoration on the tree I drilled a small hole in the top and used some twisted copper wire to make a loop, but string would do just as well, or ribbon, and you don't have to hang them from the top, you could make the hole off centre so the shape sits at an angle on the tree.

I've polished my decorations, any metal polish will do for this, most supermarkets sell some kind of polish for metal, or you can use some fine sandpaper for a brushed look, or just leave them.

Here's a finished one on the tree - 


I'm hoping to get a couple of posts done before Christmas day on the wooden things I've made for the kids stockings this year, two of the projects can be done in next to no time, so stay tuned.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Fantastic as always! :)

    Yule blessings to you and yours~

    1. Thanks for reading, blessings to you and yours as well.

  2. First thing you need to do is make proper measurements. Measure twice and cut once. When you cut into the pipe you need to use a proper copper pipe cutter. These come with a cutting wheel and two guiding wheels to help you get a perfect edge to solder with.