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Introduction to repoussé

Try your hand at basic repoussé techniques with this easy tin project

It’s easy to get hooked on chasing and repoussé — techniques that date to ancient times. “Repoussé” is from the French word meaning “pushed back.” To make a repoussé design, a metalworker uses hammers, mallets, punches, and other tools on the back side of sheet metal to create a raised motif on the front of the piece. The counterpart to repoussé is “chasing,” or working on the front of the metal to create textures and depth. The two techniques are often used in concert to create sculptural surfaces from a flat piece of metal, such as copper, tin, or brass.

In this project, you’ll cut tin sheet metal and use a variety of punches to make a low-relief design. You’ll experiment with different patterns and get a feel for how to use punches to make impressions without making holes in the metal. If you work with copper, consider giving it a patina by heating the metal with a torch.

Read the step-by-step instructions in the gallery below, or click here for the free project PDF

Materials

  • Tin sheet: 28-gauge (0.32 mm), 10 x 6 in. (25.4 x 15.2 cm)
  • Copper sheet: 28-gauge (0.32 mm), dead-soft, 2 x 3 in. (51 x 76 mm)
  • Lead solder: 60/40
  • Paua shell (optional)

Tools & supplies

  • Rubber mat: heavy
  • Rubber mallet: MA-18 oz. (510.3 g) (woodworker’s tool)
  • French shears: straight or curved
  • Wooden dowels
  • Punches: nails, screwdrivers, decorative punches
  • Bench grinder; or flex shaft with diamond burs
  • Spray paint (optional)
  • Permanent marker
  • Steel wool: 0000
  • Denatured alcohol (optional)
  • Brass block
  • Hammer: small (optional)
  • Sandpaper: 150 grit
  • Latex or nitrile gloves
  • Novacan black patina for solder
  • Natural sponge
  • Electric engraving tool (optional)
  • Torch (optional)
  • Glue: plumbing

Suppliers

Instructions

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