Custom Cookie Cutters

With minimal effort and a measure of creativity, empty tin cans can become custom cookie cutters.

| November/December 1981

Have you ever looked at a large pile of tin cans — flattened for recycling — and thought they must be good for something other than filling up the trash bin?

Well, you’re right! With tinsnips, a pair of needle-nosed pliers and your own fertile imagination, you can turn that heap of metal into a collection of custom cookie cutters that will rival store-bought cutters costing 50 cents apiece or more. The variety of shapes is limited only by your inventiveness and dexterity.

First, check your supply of empty tins. The cans that most vegetables, fruits and pet foods come in are about the right size for star and heart shapes. Gingerbread men and animal outlines will require something larger, perhaps 1- or 2-pound coffee cans.

Once emptied, the containers should be thoroughly washed and the labels, tops and bottoms removed. (Most can openers take off the ends without leaving sharp metal edges, but check carefully to make sure, and discard any cans with jagged rims.) Flatten the resulting cylinders, and use tinsnips to cut an inch-wide strip from the top and another from the bottom. These closed, double strips will be bent into shapes for the cookie cutters. (Return the center portions to the scrap pile until you can come up with a use for them!)

A heart-shaped cutter is probably the easiest to make and the best to start with. Simply pull the flattened circle of metal apart in the center to make a football shape, and then bend one of the pointed ends inward. With needle-nosed pliers, it’s no kick at all.

Cookie cutters with fancier shapes will be easier to bend if you mark fold lines on the strips while they’re still flattened. For example, to make a five-pointed star, divide the strip into five equal parts and scratch or ink the lines on both sides.

11/15/2012 2:41:30 PM

My father made all of my mother's cookie cutters this way 60 years ago. I have all of these specialized cutters now in my kitchen.

10/28/2012 1:01:24 PM

The leftover centers would make great rings around tiny plants to foil any cutworms.

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