Dec 09, 2014

Make These: DIY Brushed Metal Gift Tags

DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

What better way to add a touch of the masculine, industrial look to your holiday gift-giving than with some hand stamped, hand brushed aluminum gift tags? This easy tutorial will have you throwing out those name tag stickers and kraft paper tags for these rugged and reusable name plates.  

Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

Here's what you'll need from Santa's Shop:

  • A small sheet of aluminum - I picked up the thinnest and smallest piece. This one cost about $8.
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Tin Snips
  • A Metal cutting tool of some sort. I used a jig saw with a metal-cutting blade. You can certainly try your luck with tin snips or an electric cutter.
  • Hammer
  • Metal Letter Punch kit. I found a cheap (and poor quality) set online for about $10.
  • Electric drill with a 5/16" bit
  • 320 Grit sandpaper
  • fine steel wool (optional)

Start by measuring and marking 2x3" name tags in a grid. This will help with cutting your lines with a saw. I clamped my sheet to the edge of a table and cut away. use a piece of wood about as wide as the sheet to assure even clamp pressure. This will minimize accidental bending.

Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

Once your pieces are cut you'll probably have to hammer them flat. The jig saw is a nutty tool that can shake all over a flimsy piece of metal.

Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

Next, mark the 45 degree angles for the top of your tags. Use a pair of tin snips, or a hack saw, to cut these pieces.


Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

Tip: I went back with the snips and clipped the sharp corners off, this helped with sanding later. 

Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

 Next, you want to soften all the edges so none of your gift receivers cut themselves. To do this, place the tag on the edge of your workbench and use a sheet of 320 grit sandpaper to buff out the edges. With a downward and forward stroke, round over every edge on both sides. This will bring all the edges together into a round shape ... and not into a sharp blade shape–ouch!


Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

Drill holes at the tops of your tags and carefully remove the shavings and pieces that will still be stuck to your tag. If you have a small metal file, use it here to remove the tear out.

Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift TagsI happened to have this cheap letter punch kit, so I decided to add "TO" and "FROM" on each tag. If you don't have a punch kit like this, you could use a Dremel with an engraving bit to write your message. You could also use a small nail and hammer holes in the form of the letters you want.

Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

To create the brushed look, I rubbed the tags in a circular motion on a piece of sandpaper that was taped down to my table. After writing up this post, I realized using fine steel wool would do a much better job. I recommend you use that instead! 


Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

There ya have it! The coolest part is these tags are reusable. You can write on them with a permanent marker and remove with rubbing alcohol when you're finished. Whether or not your loved one will actually give them back to you to reuse depends on how good you make these look!

Here's a few upgrades you could definitely do to these tags:

  • Leather strips to tie it to your gifts
  • Gold plated metal (from your local craft store)
  • Copper tags (if you can age it, even better)
  • Dip the edges in plasti-dip (dog tags anyone?)

 Swell. Happy Holidays!



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Vampy on Feb 01, 2019:

That's really nice. I'm thinking about making pet collar tags that you rivet on and doing this might work. I can't find metal narrow enough to buy because I need something about 1 cm wide. Thanks for showing how you did this. Where did you find the plate ? They are kind of expensive online.

Anonymous on Dec 09, 2014:

clamp the aluminum to a thin piece of scarificial plywood and cut through both to prevent the flopping around

that you speak of.