Cabin crafting # 8: Cutting and pounding metal for DIY wall sconces

February 25, 2016: While staying at the Deep Creek cabin this week, I pulled out my hammer and cold chisel to make more metal backings for my DIY wall sconces. I made two of these sconces for my wall floating frame gallery.

And here’s one I made and mounted above our larger sectional on the living room red wall (attached to the round plank wood plaque via my trademark binder clips).

These were a definitely hit with me and Bruce (and with friends and family that have seen them in the condo). In fact, I’m working on making more for my mom, Xenia (who likes them so much she wants at least four mounted in her Brooklyn 500 square feet apartment!

This is a idea I learned from the Engineer Your Space (EYS) site and I’m using Isabelle LaRue’s template to create the backings. It requires use of a hammer and cold chisel to create notches for the candelabra lamp kits.

Now when I first attempted to make these in the condo, we got a call from property management asking that I immediately cease and desist. The banging of the metal using the hammer and cold chisel was making quite a racket on multiple floors (gasp!) and neighbors immediately weighed in on the noise. So making my first few sconces actually took awhile because I had to find a space outside of the condo to prep the metal.

So now that we’re at a cabin at the lake in the woods, I pounced on the opportunity to bang away on my metal. Here are the tools needed to make sconce backings.

  • Isabelle’s template. (I have four copies to use with each metal sheet.)
  • A piece of aluminum metal (I bought four 12×12 pieces from the Home Depot for $8 each).
  • Metal Snips.
  • Hard Cap Cold chisel.
  • Hammer.
  • Double-sided tape. (I used Super Tape I had in my craft supplies – bought from the Paper Source.)
  • 1 x 4 piece of wood. (I used one of the 99 cent wood square pieces bought from Michaels which will later be re-purposed as a floating wood frame wall mount support bracket.)
  • Protective googles. (To protect my eyes from flying metal or wood pieces).

Isabelle (and I) highly recommend wearing work gloves for this task as well (to avoid accidental scratches or cuts when cutting the metal and handling jagged metal pieces). But unfortunately I forgot to toss my gloves in my craft supply basket (and in the cart at Lowes). So I’m taking a minor risk here and proceeding without them. But to those who plan to make these sconces, I strongly recommend wearing work gloves for the following steps!

  • Step 1: Use the double-sided tape to apply the template on a metal sheet.


  • Step 2: Use the metal snips to cut the aluminum sheet using the template.


  • Step 3: Cut the solid lines of the template using the metal snips.

  • Step 4: With your fingers, take the small flap at the bottom of the metal cut out and wiggle it back and forth until it snaps off.

And we’re done with the metal snips at this point. I now have four metal pieces that are prepared using Isabelle’s template.

It’s now time to make the notches that the candelabra light kit prongs will slip through. You’ll understand the purpose of these in detail when reading my DIY paper decorated wall sconce post. But for now, just know that these notches are what holds the candelabra lights upright when hanging the sconce on the wall.

For this step, the hammer, cold chisel and block of wood is need. Along with a very high noise tolerance.

Since we’re in a cabin rental, I didn’t want to take any chances. So I brought my metal sheets and tools outside before continuing.

  • Step 5. Place the wood block under the metal sheet and line the cold chisel blade with one of the template lines for a notch.
  • Step 6: Use the hammer to pound the top of the chisel until it cuts through the metal.

  • Step 7: Move to the other notch line on template and repeat previous step.

Repeat for each metal sheet. And I’m done with the loud, obnoxious part of this project. Whew!

Here’s a picture of the cold chisel dents into the wood after making the metal notches. This is why a wood block is required for this step. And this is why I did not want to risk doing this inside the cabin (on someone else’s wood or ceramic floors).

At this point, I packed away my prepared metal pieces so I can tote them back home and complete the DIY sconces in the condo. Critical step of my mission has been accomplished. Back to my spray paint, my wood stain, and my Mod Podge projects waiting inside the cabin. V-

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