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Metalwork Merit Badge Guide

Metalwork Merit Badge

The “Metalwork Merit Badge” is a unique emblem of achievement for Scouts around the globe, embodying a tradition that draws on centuries of craftsmanship, discipline, and creativity. This article delves into the diverse elements of the Metalwork Merit Badge, an honor that requires a Scout to demonstrate proficiency in both the theoretical and practical aspects of working with metal.

From understanding metallurgy’s historical significance to mastering the art of shaping and transforming metal, this badge symbolizes a comprehensive understanding of this fundamental material. Scouts pursuing the Metalwork Merit Badge gain hands-on experience with a variety of techniques including forging, casting, and sheet metal work.

While safety remains paramount throughout, the badge also encourages the development of problem-solving skills, patience, and a keen eye for detail. This balance between safety, creativity, and technical proficiency encapsulates the essence of the Metalwork Merit Badge.

Whether a Scout is drawn to the age-old techniques of blacksmithing or the precision of modern metalworking, the journey towards earning this badge fosters an enduring appreciation for the material that has shaped civilizations. Join us as we explore the components, the challenges, and the rewards of the Metalwork Merit Badge.

Metalwork Merit Badge Requirements

1. Read the safety rules for metalwork. Discuss how to be safe while working with metal. Discuss with your counselor the additional safety rules that apply to the metalwork option you choose for requirement 5.
2. Define the terms native metal, malleable, metallurgy, alloy, nonferrous, and ferrous. Then do the following:
(a) Name two nonferrous alloys used by pre-Iron Age metalworkers. Name the metals that are combined to form these alloys.

(b) Name three ferrous alloys used by modern metalworkers.

(c) Describe how to work-harden a metal.

(d) Describe how to anneal a nonferrous and a ferrous metal.
3. Do the following:
(a) Work-harden a piece of 26- or 28-gauge sheet brass or sheet copper. Put a 45-degree bend in the metal, then heavily peen the area along the bend line to work-harden it. Note the amount of effort that is required to overcome the yield point in this unworked piece of metal.

(b) Soften the work-hardened piece from requirement 3a by annealing it, and then try to remove the 45-degree bend. Note the amount of effort that is required to overcome the yield point.

(c) Make a temper color index from a flat piece of steel. Using hand tools, make and temper a center punch of medium-carbon or high-carbon steel.
4. Find out about three career opportunities in metalworking. Pick one and find out the education, training, and experience required for this profession. Discuss this with your counselor, and explain why this profession might interest you.
5. After completing the first four requirements, complete at least ONE of the options listed below.
(a) Option 1 – Sheet Metal Mechanic/Tinsmith
(1) Name and describe the use of the basic sheet metalworking tools.
(2) Create a sketch of two objects to make from sheet metal. Include each component’s dimensions on your sketch, which need not be to scale.
(3) Make two objects out of 24- or 26-gauge sheet metal. Use patterns either provided by your counselor or made by you and approved by your counselor. Construct these objects using a metal that is appropriate to the object’s ultimate purpose, and using cutting, bending, edging, and either soldering or brazing.
(a) One object also must include at least one riveted component.
(b) If you do not make your objects from zinc-plated sheet steel or tin-plated sheet steel, preserve your work from oxidation.

(b) Option 2 – Silversmith
(1) Name and describe the use of a silversmith’s basic tools.
(2) Create a sketch of two objects to make from sheet silver. Include each component’s dimensions on your sketch, which need not be to scale.
(3) Make two objects out of 18- or 20-gauge sheet copper. Use patterns either provided by your counselor or made by you and approved by your counselor. Both objects must include a soldered joint. If you have prior silversmithing experience, you may substitute sterling silver, nickel silver, or lead-free pewter.
(a) At least one object must include a sawed component you have made yourself.
(b) At least one object must include a sunken part you have made yourself.
(c) Clean and polish your objects.

(c) Option 3 – Founder
(1) Name and describe the use of the basic parts of a two-piece mold. Name at least three different types of molds.
(2) Create a sketch of two objects to cast in metal. Include each component’s dimensions on your sketch, which need not be to scale.
(3) Make two molds, one using a pattern provided by your counselor and another one you have made yourself that has been approved by your counselor. Position the pouring gate and vents yourself. Do not use copyrighted materials as patterns.
(a) Using lead-free pewter, make a casting using a mold provided by your counselor.
(b) Using lead-free pewter, make a casting using the mold that you have made.

(d) Option 4 – Blacksmith
(1) Name and describe the use of a blacksmith’s basic tools.
(2) Make a sketch of two objects to hot-forge. Include each component’s dimensions on your sketch, which need not be to scale.
(3) Using low-carbon steel at least 1/4 inch thick, perform the following exercises:
(a) Draw out by forging a taper.
(b) Use the horn of the anvil by forging a U-shaped bend.
(c) Form a decorative twist in a piece of square steel.
(d) Use the edge of the anvil to bend metal by forging an L-shaped bend.
(4) Using low-carbon steel at least 1/4 inch thick, make the two objects you sketched that require hot-forging. Be sure you have your counselor’s approval before you begin.
(a) Include a decorative twist on one object.
(b) Include a hammer-riveted joint in one object.
(c) Preserve your work from oxidation.

The Answer for Requirement Number 1

Safety is of paramount importance when it comes to metalworking. Here are some of the general safety rules that should be adhered to:

  1. Wear Safety Gear: Always wear appropriate safety gear, including safety glasses, gloves, and suitable clothing that is not loose or dangling.
  2. Use Tools Properly: Ensure that you are properly trained to use the tools before you start metalworking. This includes understanding the correct use of each tool and the potential risks associated with misuse.
  3. Work Area Cleanliness: Keep your work area clean and organized. A cluttered workspace can cause accidents. Also, ensure good ventilation for any fumes that may be produced.
  4. Handle with Care: Be aware that freshly cut or shaped metal can have sharp edges or points. Handle with care to prevent injury.
  5. Fire Safety: Understand fire safety, especially when working with heat or open flame. Have fire extinguishing equipment readily available.

For Requirement 5, which involves choosing a specific type of metalwork (sheet metal, jewelry, foundry work, etc.), there would be additional safety rules. For instance, if you chose foundry work, you should:

  1. Heat Safety: Be cautious of extremely high temperatures used in melting metals. Always use proper heat-resistant gloves and tongs.
  2. Molten Metal Safety: Be aware that molten metal can cause severe burns. Never touch it without proper protection and avoid spilling it.
  3. Fumes: Ensure good ventilation as some metals may produce toxic fumes when melted.

The specific safety rules can vary based on the type of metalwork chosen, so it’s essential to discuss these with your counselor to fully understand the safety measures necessary for your chosen metalwork option.

The Answer for Requirement Number 2a,b


  • Native Metal: A native metal is a metal that you can find in its pure, metallic form in nature, not combined with other elements. Examples include gold, silver, and copper.
  • Malleable: Malleability is a property of metals that allows them to be hammered, rolled, or pressed into thin sheets without breaking or cracking.
  • Metallurgy: Metallurgy is the science and technology of extracting metals from their ores and refining them for use, as well as the study of the properties and structures of metals.
  • Alloy: An alloy is a mixture of two or more metals, or a metal and another element, usually created to enhance certain properties like strength or resistance to corrosion.
  • Nonferrous: Nonferrous metals are metals that do not contain iron in significant amounts.
  • Ferrous: Ferrous metals are metals that contain iron. They often have magnetic properties and may be prone to rusting.

a) Two Nonferrous Alloys Used by Pre-Iron Age Metalworkers:

AlloyConstituent Metals
BronzeCopper and Tin
BrassCopper and Zinc

b) Three Ferrous Alloys Used by Modern Metalworkers:

AlloyConstituent Metals
Stainless SteelIron, Chromium, and often Nickel and other elements
Carbon SteelIron and Carbon
Cast IronIron, Carbon, and Silicon

The Answer for Requirement Number 2c,d

c) Work-Hardening a Metal:

Work hardening, also known as strain hardening, is a process that involves increasing the hardness and strength of a metal by deformation. This is often accomplished through processes such as rolling, hammering, or bending the metal.

As the metal is worked, the dislocations within its crystal structure multiply and become tangled, thereby hindering further dislocation movement.

This increased resistance to dislocation movement results in the metal becoming harder and stronger, but also more brittle. It’s important to understand that too much work hardening can make the metal overly brittle and prone to cracking.

d) Annealing Nonferrous and Ferrous Metals:

Annealing is a heat treatment process that is used to alter the physical and sometimes chemical properties of a material to increase its ductility and reduce its hardness, making it more workable.

For both nonferrous and ferrous metals, the annealing process generally involves three stages: recovery, recrystallization, and grain growth.

  1. Recovery: The metal is heated to eliminate the effects of strain hardening, which restores its ductility.
  2. Recrystallization: If the metal is heated further, new grains without strain hardening form.
  3. Grain Growth: If heating continues, the new grains grow to consume the strain-hardened grains.

The exact temperatures and cooling rates used in the annealing process can vary depending on the specific metal.

  • Nonferrous Metal (e.g., Copper): Heat the metal to a high temperature (typically around 600-800°C for copper), then cool it slowly. This will allow the metal to soften and the internal stresses to be relieved.
  • Ferrous Metal (e.g., Steel): For steel, the process involves heating it to a temperature where the ferrite phase of steel transforms to austenite (around 700-900°C), maintaining this temperature for a while, and then cooling slowly, often in the furnace, to allow the formation of a ductile microstructure.

Remember, it’s crucial to follow proper safety guidelines when dealing with high temperatures.

The Answer for Requirement Number 3ab,c

I can provide instructions on how to complete the tasks you’ve mentioned.

a) Work-hardening a piece of metal:

  1. Start with a flat piece of 26- or 28-gauge sheet brass or sheet copper.
  2. Secure the metal on a sturdy surface.
  3. Put a 45-degree bend in the metal. You can use a sheet metal brake or pliers for this. Be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands.
  4. Next, you will peen the area along the bend line to work-harden it. This involves striking the metal repeatedly with a ball-peen hammer. Note the amount of force and effort required to overcome the yield point in this unworked piece of metal. Work-hardening will make the metal stiffer and less ductile.

b) Softening the work-hardened piece by annealing:

  1. To anneal, or soften, the work-hardened brass or copper, you would need to heat it. For copper, this is usually around 700-800 degrees Fahrenheit, and for brass, it’s around 600-900 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat the metal evenly with a torch until it glows a dull red, then let it cool slowly to room temperature. This will rearrange the dislocations and defects in the metal’s structure, returning it to its original, softer state.
  3. After annealing, try to straighten out the 45-degree bend. You should note that it requires less force to deform the metal now, as the yield point has been lowered.

c) Making a temper color index and tempering a center punch:

  1. Start with a flat piece of steel. Clean it thoroughly to remove any oils or dirt.
  2. Heat the steel piece until it becomes red-hot.
  3. Let the steel cool slowly in open air. As it cools, it will go through a range of colors, from straw yellow to brown to purple to blue. These colors indicate different levels of hardness, with straw yellow being the hardest and blue being the softest. Record the colors and corresponding temperatures for future reference. This is your temper color index.
  4. Now, to make and temper a center punch, start with a piece of medium- or high-carbon steel.
  5. Shape the steel into a punch using a grinder. One end should be pointed, and the other end should be flat for striking.
  6. Heat the punch until it becomes red-hot.
  7. Quench the punch in water or oil to harden it.
  8. Now, temper the punch by reheating it to a lower temperature. The temperature you choose will depend on the desired hardness. Use your temper color index as a guide. Once the punch reaches the desired color, quench it again to stop the tempering process.
  9. Your punch is now ready for use.

Please consult a professional or someone with experience in metalworking before attempting these tasks. They require specialized knowledge and can be dangerous if done incorrectly.

Also Read: Welding Merit Badge

The Answer for Requirement Number 4

Here are three career opportunities within the field of metalworking:

  1. Welder: A welder uses equipment to join metal parts together. They may work in a variety of industries, such as construction, automotive, or shipbuilding.
  2. Machinist: A machinist uses machine tools to make or modify parts, primarily metal, although they may also work with other materials. They may work in a variety of industries, such as manufacturing or aerospace.
  3. Sheet Metal Worker: A sheet metal worker fabricates and installs products made from thin metal sheets, such as ducts used in heating and air conditioning systems. They may also work with fiberglass and plastic materials.

Let’s delve into the career of a welder in more detail:

WelderHigh School Diploma or equivalentOn-the-job training, apprenticeships, or vocational programsEntry-level positions available, but experience leads to more advanced opportunities

Education: Typically, a high school diploma or equivalent is the minimum requirement. High school courses in mathematics, physics, and blueprint reading can be beneficial.

Training: Training for welders can come from various sources. Some welders learn their trade through on-the-job training, starting with simple tasks and progressing to more complex ones as they gain skills. Others may complete formal training programs at trade schools or community colleges, some of which award certificates or associate degrees in welding. Apprenticeships are another route to learning the trade.

Experience: Entry-level welding positions typically require little to no experience, with on-the-job training provided. However, more advanced or specialized welding positions may require several years of experience. Welders can also earn certifications from organizations like the American Welding Society, which may improve job prospects.

Welding can be an appealing profession for those who like working with their hands and have an interest in building or repairing metal structures. The work is physically demanding and requires a high level of skill, but it can also be rewarding. Welding is a critical part of many industries, and skilled welders are often in high demand.

Remember to discuss this profession with your counselor to further understand the nuances and challenges of this career path.

The Answer for Requirement Number 5 option 2

I can describe the steps and tools involved in silversmithing, and how you might design and create objects from sheet silver or copper.

1) Basic Tools of a Silversmith

  1. Jeweler’s Saw: This is used for cutting intricate shapes out of sheet metal.
  2. Files and Sandpaper: These are used for smoothing out rough edges and giving the piece a polished finish.
  3. Hammers and Mallets: These are used for shaping and forming the metal.
  4. Mandrels: These are typically rounded tools used for forming metal into specific shapes, like rings or bracelets.
  5. Pliers: These are used for bending and manipulating metal.
  6. Torch: This is used for soldering, annealing, and melting metal.
  7. Soldering Tools: Solder, flux, and a soldering pick are used to join pieces of metal together.
  8. Bench Pin: This is a wooden attachment for a workbench that provides a stable surface for sawing and filing.
  9. Safety Glasses and Apron: Safety is important when working with tools and hot metal.

2) Sketch of Two Objects

As an AI, I’m unable to create sketches, but I can describe two objects you might consider:

  1. Pendant: This could be a circular pendant with a diameter of 1.5 inches, decorated with a sawed design of a tree.
  2. Ring: This could be a simple band ring with a width of 0.25 inches, featuring a sunken design or texture on the outer surface.

3) Making the Objects

Unfortunately, I can’t physically make objects, but I can guide you through the process.

First, transfer your patterns onto the 18- or 20-gauge copper sheet. For the sawed component, you might use a jeweler’s saw to cut out the tree design for the pendant. For the sunken part, you might use a hammer and a suitable tool to create a sunken texture on the ring.

Next, clean the pieces and prepare them for soldering. Apply flux to the areas to be joined, position the pieces together, and place snippets of solder at the join. Use the torch to heat the pieces until the solder flows and joins them together.

Finally, clean the pieces again to remove any oxidation, then polish them to your desired finish. Always remember to follow the safety procedures while performing these tasks.

Please remember that this is a simplified version of the process, and the specific techniques and safety precautions required can be quite complex. Always work with a knowledgeable adult or instructor when learning new skills.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the Metalwork Merit Badge?

he Metalwork Merit Badge is a program offered by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) that allows scouts to learn about the properties of metal, how to use simple metalworking tools, and basic metalworking techniques.

What safety measures should be taken when working towards the Metalwork Merit Badge?

Scouts should always wear appropriate safety gear, including safety glasses and gloves. They should also be supervised by a knowledgeable adult and work in a well-ventilated area.

Do I need any special tools to earn the Metalwork Merit Badge?

Yes, you’ll need access to basic metalworking tools, such as a hammer, anvil, tongs, and file, among others.

What is work hardening and annealing in the context of the Metalwork Merit Badge?

Work hardening is a process that makes a metal harder by deformation, usually through hammering or bending. Annealing is a heat treatment process that softens metal, making it more ductile and workable. Both of these processes are important skills to learn for the Metalwork Merit Badge.

What kind of projects will I make to earn the Metalwork Merit Badge?

The projects vary depending on which option you choose (sheet metal, tin, or silversmithing), but they can include making a small toolbox, candle holder, or pieces of jewelry, among others.

What metals will I be working with to earn the Metalwork Merit Badge?

Scouts typically work with softer, more malleable metals such as copper, brass, or silver, although this can depend on the specific projects chosen.

Do I need to have prior experience with metalworking to earn the Metalwork Merit Badge?

No prior experience is required. The Metalwork Merit Badge is designed to introduce scouts to the basics of metalworking.

What is the role of the merit badge counselor for the Metalwork Merit Badge?

The merit badge counselor guides the scout through the badge requirements, providing instruction, reviewing the scout’s work, and ensuring safety procedures are followed.


Here are some useful references to further your knowledge on the topics discussed:

  1. Metalworking Basics:
    • “The Complete Book of Metalworking” by John Kelsey
    • “Metalworking: Doing It Better” by Tom Lipton
  2. Welding:
    • “Welding For Dummies” by Steven Robert Farnsworth
    • “Welding: Principles and Applications” by Larry Jeffus
  3. Silversmithing:
    • “Silversmithing for Jewelry Makers: A Handbook of Techniques and Surface Treatments” by Elizabeth Bone
    • “The Complete Metalsmith: An Illustrated Handbook” by Tim McCreight
  4. Merit Badge Requirements and Guides:
    • “Metalwork” Merit Badge Requirements – Boy Scouts of America (
    • “Metalwork” Merit Badge Pamphlet – Boy Scouts of America (available for purchase at Scout Shops or online)

Please remember that while these resources can provide valuable information, they should be used in conjunction with instruction from a knowledgeable adult or merit badge counselor. Always follow safety procedures when working with tools and materials.

I'm a Mechanical Engineer and lifelong Eagle Scout. My passion for scouting guides my writing, aiming to inspire fellow Scouts on their path. Thanks for reading, and best wishes on your journey to Eagle!