Copper Canister

My kitchen utensil drawer is overflowing with tools – to the point not everything fits. My thought was putting a canister on the counter with the bulkier and longer tools would free up some space and allow other stuff to go in the drawer.

Sounds easy enough. Build a copper canister and load it up.

I started with a roll of copper flashing like I always do for copper projects.

Parts

Two pieces from the 20″ wide roll.

The first step was to whack off a chunk to work with. ┬áMy roll of copper is 20″ wide and I wanted my canister to be 10″ tall so I split it in half and made two. These are 22″ inches long which puts them just over 7″ in diameter when finished since some length is used up in the seam.

Rolling

Rolling the ends.

Two rolled cylinders. Ends nearly match up!

Two rolled cylinders. Ends nearly match up!

I rolled the ends around a propane cylinder to ensure there wouldn’t be a flat spot once the seam was put in. Rolling the copper to this diameter ended up being nearly perfect for the diameter of the finished cylinder.

Test seam to make sure it would work.

Test seam to make sure it would work.

The next step is to put the seam down the two ends and make a tube. Before committing to the real parts, I did a small test to make sure everything would work out as planned. The only change was to crimp the two ends then solder them so they wouldn’t slide around while flattening the rest of the seam.

First pass on the seaming.

First pass on the seaming.

Seam ready to join.

Seam ready to join.

The seam was formed by hand with seaming pliers. The first pass got it bent over then the next pass with the hammer flattened it down a bit so there would be less to crimp once joined.

It really is as simple as putting the two sides together and squishing them flat. I crimped the two ends first then soldered those to hold them in place since they were sliding around too much to hold on their own.

Flattening the seam.

Flattening the seam.

Finished seam.

Finished seam.

I started using a metal hammer as a dolly inside the tube and a soft-face hammer on the outside to crimp the seam. It worked better to use a big (2 pound) rubber hammer as a dolly on the outside and use the soft-face hammer on the inside. This gave me more control and a better seam. The steel hammer flattened it a bit more than I wanted.

Marking the bottom.

Marking the bottom.

Time for the bottom! Almost.

This starts with marking 1/4″ up from the bottom to tip the edge over so it would have a nice rounded bottom to it. I used a combination of soft-face hammer, a rubber hammer, steel hammer, and a brass hammer to get the copper into a nice radius. What worked best was using the steel hammer as the dolly and the soft-face hammer to shrink the copper and roll it over.

Starting the roll around the bottom.

Starting the roll around the bottom.

Finished bottom roll.

Finished bottom roll.

The roll went much easier than expected – it only took three or four passes around to get it completed. Another three or four passes between the hard hammers got all of the ripples smoothed out and things looking good.

Bottom plate.

Bottom plate.

Next step is to cut out a circle to fit into the bottom. It needs to be just big enough to fill the whole but not big enough to interfere with the sides. The two alignment lines make sure things get compared the same every time while trimming and fitting. The last step before soldering the bottom is to put a slight curve on the edge to match the radius around the base of the side – this allows it to fit a bit tighter and sit flatter.

 

 

The fully soldered bottom.

The fully soldered bottom.

The cleaned up bottom.

The cleaned up bottom.

With the bottom circle fit to the can body, it was a matter of soldering it in place. The trick was to hold the bottom piece tight to the can while upside down – easily accomplished by standing it upside down on a piece of wood just taller than the can. Once balanced, it’s a simple matter of soldering around the seam and cleaning it up.

Clean up was done with a bit of time and a scotchbrite pad to remove the flux from soldering, finger prints from handling, and the rest of the dirt. It takes a bit of time to get a uniform finish free of smudges and finger prints but the time is worth it.

Finished copper canister.

Finished copper canister.

The finished canister is probably twice as tall as it needed to be and around 2 inches larger in diameter than needed. It will be a good exercise to make a pair of smaller ones to match this pair.

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