The Tin Woodman (also known as The Tin Man or The Tin Woodsman is a character in the fictional Land of Oz created by American author L. Frank Baum. Baum's Tin Woodman first appeared in his classic 1900 book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and reappeared in many other Oz books. In late 19th century America, men made out of various tin pieces were used in advertising and political cartoons. Baum, who was editing a magazine on decorating shop windows when he wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was reportedly inspired to invent the Tin Woodman by a figure he had built out of metal parts for a shop display.
In the books, the origins of the character are rather gruesome. Originally an ordinary man by the name of Nick Chopper, the Tin Woodman used to make his living chopping down trees in the forests of Oz. The Wicked Witch of the East enchanted his axe to prevent him from marrying the girl that he loved. The enchanted axe chopped off his limbs, one by one. Each time he lost a limb, Nick Chopper replaced it with a prosthetic limb made of tin. Finally, nothing was left of him but tin. However, Ku-Klip, the tinsmith who helped him, neglected to replace his heart. Once Nick Chopper was made entirely of tin, he was no longer able to love the girl he had fallen for.
In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy Gale befriends the Tin Woodman and he follows her to the Emerald City to get a heart from The Wizard of Oz. They are joined on their adventure by the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion. The Wizard sends Dorothy and her friends to the Winkie Country to kill the Wicked Witch of the West. The Tin Woodman's axe proves useful in this journey, both for chopping wood to create a bridge or raft as needed, and for chopping the heads off animals that threaten the party.
The Wizard turns out to be a "humbug," and can only provide a placebo heart made of velvet and filled with sawdust. However, this is enough to please the Tin Woodman, who, with or without a heart, was all along the most tender and emotional of Dorothy's companions (just as the Scarecrow was the wisest and the Cowardly Lion the bravest). When he accidentally crushes an insect, he is grief-stricken and, ironically, claims that he must be careful about such things, while those with hearts do not need such care. This tenderness remains with him throughout the series, as in The Patchwork Girl of Oz, where he refuses to let a butterfly be maimed for the casting of a spell.
When Dorothy returns home to her farm in Kansas, the Tin Woodman returns to the Winkie Country to rule as emperor. Later, he has his subjects construct a palace made entirely of tin—from the architecture all the way down to the flowers in the garden.