8 empty, clean beer cans
1 wire hanger
Awl or long nail
Block of scrap wood
1 bottle cork
a small length of 4 mm tubing, or insulation stripped from a 4 mm wire
Techniques for joining metal (no soldering)
1. “Rivetless rivet” for joining two surfaces together: Align the two pieces correctly and place on the wooden block. With the hammer and awl, drive a hole through both pieces. Turn the pieces over. With the ballpeen end of the hammer, tap the hole to flatten the flanges of metal around the hole tight against the surface.
2. Tab joint for joining two pieces at an angle: With right-angled cuts, trim the end of one piece into a tab shape. Cut a slit the same size as the tab into the receiving piece. Slip the tab through the slit and flatten the tab on the reverse side of the receiving piece. For extra strength, use a double-thickness of metal for the tab piece and spread the tabs apart like an envelope clasp.
Cut the tops and bottoms off six cans. Discard the tops. Tap a hole in the center of each bottom. Cut the can bodies from top to bottom and smooth the rectangular sheet flat.
From one sheet, cut six long struts 1″ x 3 1/2″. Fold in half lengthwise, crimp, shape the ends into tabs and set aside. Cut two short wing struts 1/ 1/2″ x 2″, fold in half crosswise, crimp, shape the ends into tabs and set aside.
Wheels: Carefully press two bottoms together, convex sides out, and ease the rim of one bottom around the other. Repeat for second wheel. Wheel strut: Cut a 7″ length of wire hanger. Cut a 5″ x 3″ rectangle; fold in half lengthwise with the wire tightly crimped into the fold. Tap a hold in the center of the sheet, trim the metal.
Wings: From a flat sheet, cut two strips 3 1/2″ wide. Overlap the strips to make a rectangle 3 1/2″ x 13″. Rivet the overlapping area. Cut two slits to fit the tabs on the long struts on each wing, 2″ from the end. Round both wingtips. Crease 1/2″ of the long side over a hard edge to form a U-shaped channel. Repeat on the second long side. Tap a hole in the center of the finished wing. Repeat for second wing.
Propeller: Cut two strips 2″ x 8″, rivet together. Round the tips. Tap a hole in the center. Crease the tips diagonally, pinwheel style. Sandwich the last two can bottoms around the long strip so the center holes are aligned, and ease the rim of one bottom around the other.
Tail: Upright: cut a rectangle 3″ x 7″, fold in half crosswise; trim to shape; rivet. Make four 1/2′ cuts along the bottom surface, creating five tabs. Tabs one, three, and five will be inserted into the body of the plane; tabs two and four will be split apart to support the tail. Make a single slit in the upright.
Horizontal tailpieces: Cut a rectangle 3″ x 6″, trim to shape. Cut three slits to receive the three tabs on the tail upright. Cut a slit in the surface of each side of the horizontal tailpiece.
Push the three tabs on the upright through the slits on the horizontal tailpiece. Do not fold back yet. On each side of the upright, run a thin strut between the upright and the horizontal surfaces, flattening the tab on the reverse side. Tail rest: cut a 3″ x 3/4″ strip, fold crosswise, trim, rivet.
Fuselage: Cut the tops only from two cans, discard tops.
Rear can: Cut three slits in a line on the top surface to receive the three tabs on the tailpiece. Cut two side-by-side slits on the underside near the can bottom to receive the two tabs on the tail rest. Attach both pieces: insert the tabs, reach inside the can and split the tabs and fold them flat against the inside.
Front: Tap a hole in the center of the can bottom. Cut two 4″ long slits 1″ apart along the length of the underside of the can. Tap a hole in the underside of the can, between the two slits, 1″ from the bottom edge. Tap another hole opposite, on the top surface. Half an inch on either side of the top hole, cut slits to receive the short wing struts.
Thread one wing, unpainted side out, through the slits. Follow with the wheel strut. Center both pieces. Bend the two halves of the wheel strut away from the body at an 80û angle; bend the bare wires outwards at a 90° angle. Thread the wheels onto the wires, cap the ends with 1/4″ piece of plastic tubing.
Cut a 2 1/2″ piece of wire. Push 1″ into the bottle cork. From the inside of the can, push the wire through the hole in the can bottom. Thread on 3/4″ of plastic tubing, then the propeller, then cap with 1/4″ of tubing.
Attach top wing to the fuselage with the two short wing struts, set at diagonals. Attach the upper and lower wings to each other with the four long wing struts. Cut a 6″ piece of wire and pass it through the holes in the wheel strut, lower wing, underside of fuselage, top side of fuselage, and upper wing. Bend the wire ends into small loops for hanging.
Originally published in All About Beer Magazine
Volume 23 Number 5