full time metal fabricator/artist

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Using a Haugen Mag Drill

Here’s some video of a Hougen Mag Drill in use. ElectroMAGnetic DRILLs are a great tool and valuable asset to any metal fabricator. 


The annular cutting bit on these drills only cuts the outer circle of steel and leaves the metal in the middle alone, which dramatically reduces the work the drill has to do. 

It gets the, “mag” part of its name by having an electromagnet base that locks to any metal surface with a flip of a switch. Pretty cool. 

Thanks for reading.

More to come. 

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Small production run of engineered brackets for a balcony. 

I had to make ten of these brackets based off blueprints. Any time I make more than 6 of anything, I make a fixture for it. A fixture helps me keep the components of the thing I’m making in alignment, whatever that may be.

In this case I need to keep threaded rod square to a 1/2″ thick plate I’m going to plug weld. The holes are in perfect alignment. The reason the top plate is cut back is to allow removal from the fixture once it’s welded out. 

Here’s one of the plates welded, you’ll see the plates not welded in the background. 

Even more of the plates welded out. 

Then finally the finished product. 

This project took me one full day to complete. And is going to make someone’s balcony very safe~

Thanks for reading. 

More to come. 

Custom mixed media book case

Neat project I’m working on.

Thanks for watching~

Multi pass weld practice

Welding isn’t so much like riding a bike, you need to practice to maintain proficiency. When I have some down time, I’ll grab a chunk of steel and lay some beads.
This time it was a 7″ piece of 1.25″ x 1.25″ x .25″ angle iron using .035″ ER70S-6 mig wire on my Millermatic 210.

I’ll refer to, “passes” and, “beads” as the same thing, one consistent, “string” of weld (yet another term for this process), welding nomenclature is filled with deviance’s like this.

I started out with a single pass.

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Then a few more passes.

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Keep going.. (things are starting to get got now)

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Even more passes.

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Still not done, more passes.

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Getting close, a few more beads then I’ll be able to do a cover pass.

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Cover pass complete! Cover passes are always the most nerve wracking because visual inspection consists of some 90% of all weld inspections; even if the rest of the entire weld is perfect and only the cover pass gets messed up, the weld will likely fail inspection.

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Then I let the whole thing cool down and cut it in half to see what the center of my welds look like.

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Looking good! Typically as a fabricator, I’d never let metal get as hot as it did here but the practice was in the welding which was a total success.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Angle grinder rack

Angle grinders are loud, obnoxious, and dangerous, hands down one of the least favorite hand tools I’m required to work with on a regular basis.
Since they are rather big and have power cords attached to them, they often get themselves tangled with other tools and tangled in ways that boggle the mind.
I had some sheet metal I bent for another project that didn’t work out as planned and realized with minimal tweaking, it would make a perfect angle grinder rack. 

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I lined up some grinders with various attachments and created an average that would allow all the attachments to fit, then I used an angle grinder (see, so useful) to cut out the slots where the tool will hang.

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Because this started out as nothing but sheet metal, I knew the bottom half would bend under the pressure so I welded in some 1/8″ steel rods in between the slots on the bottom of the rack.

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I drilled some holes in the front of the rack to make instillation easier then spray painted the whole thing with black then a gold stencil dot pattern from some mesh steel.

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Works like a charm.

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Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Spray paint can piercer

Where I live, when a spray paint can is under pressure, you’re not allowed to curbside recycle.
Since I use a decent amount of spray paint, I decided to help my recyclers and make a can piercer.

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Made out of two “K” bottle covers, some scrap 1/4″ steel and an old stainless steel bucket I had laying around.

This turned out pretty well! Here’s a video of it in action:

Now I can get rid of cans without the extra steps and feel good about the shortcut.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

100% reclaimed material bench set

This was a fun project, a combination of braze welding, mig welding and woodwork to reclaim this giant wire spool wheel that my scrapper dropped off, he didn’t even bother to call me and just stopped by because he knew I’d love this thing, and I did, still do, love it to pieces..

DRD reclaimed material bench set-1

This wire wheel made it all the way from Madison Wisconsin, before making it to my studio, it was carrying just shy of a ton of 1.5″ pressure pipe that was wound on this giant spool.

I already knew exactly what one half of this wheel was going to be used for so I got to work and made the security cage for my bench space to keep my welding equipment behind a second set of locks.

DRD reclaimed material bench set-2

And here’s a short video of how this security cage works, a simple but very strong rigging consisting of three blocks (the technical name for pulleys) with a 90 lb counterweight tucked away behind my loft.

I still had another complete wheel and all the wood from this spool though. All the perfect elements for a set of benches.

I enjoy the deliberate process of drawing a design out, making the cut list, cutting the metal and all the other prep involved with fabricating projects. Each moment of time you don’t rush equals 4 moments of post welding time spent cussing at the fact that you should have prepped it properly in the first place.
So I measured out all the salvagable steel and wood to determined what size benches I could make, I knew I wanted the finished height to be 18″ tall, after some calculations, I felt that 15″ deep would make a great fit and the amount of reclaimed materials dictated these benches 42″ (3′ 6″) long.

Time to get to work, I cut out all the steel which consisted of pieces of 1.5″ x 1.5″ and 1″ x 1.5″ box tube, taking extra care to leave the existing weathering on the steel. Then I started drilling, when using proper technique and using cutting fluid, you can use the same drill bit to make over a thousand holes. I’m keeping count on my 3/8″ bit and it’s well past 400 holes with only slight signs of wear.

56 holes total to make all the mounting points for the 14 bench slats on this project.

I then cut all the wood down to size, placed that off to the side then welded the frame together.

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Here’s a picture of the bench set with slats resting on top, nothing is assembled or finished.

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After the frame was welded together, I stress tested them by applying pressure at their worst possible angles and they held up great, being aware of how the most bizarre things can happen to furniture during its lifespan, I didn’t feel great was adequate for a portfolio item. I decided to add an, “I beam” structure to tie the legs together, at this point, this bench frame is beyond strong, these benches can take years of abuse and remain strong and viable. Even if the wood was destroyed, new slats could be easily installed thanks to the consistently spaced mounting holes.

DRD reclaimed material bench set-12

Now that the frame is really strong, time for a different kind of fun, using a brazing torch to add bronze accents into the corners and having fun dragging the bronze across the surface of the steel, watching the steel merge with the bronze is a really neat process to watch firsthand. While this bronze does make the weld stronger, the frame is already amazingly strong and I’m able to put aesthetics in the forefront instead of function which is warm change of pace knowing it’s foundation is strong. Here’s a shot of me adding some of these accents into the furniture.

DRD reclaimed material bench set-6

After wrapping up fon with bronze, it’s time to shift into finishing, the part where you really have to slow down and watch everything all at the same time. At this point even bumping a piece against the wrong thing can be a small disaster since clear coats are drying. Here’s a picture of the first coat of protectants immediately after it was applied, I scheduled this intentionally on a Friday so I could leave for the weekend and not be tempted to touch things or mess with them, at this point, the best thing that can happen to them is to be left alone.

As a side note, the second picture has an example of my braze welding, and I took these pictures in the dark, like really dark, both pictures are a 125 second exposure on a joby tripod, the reason the brazing example is see through is that I placed it down half way through the exposure, just to play around with it, it was so dark you can’t even see my hand that placed it there. Pretty neat!

 

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The clear coat on the steel is Penetrol, it’s an oil based paint relaxer that works amazing as a metal clear coat, after multiple coats are applied, the luster of the steel really comes out and has a glossy finish, never to rust again. The wood slats have been treated with a combination of tung oil, boiled linseed oil and marine varnish. This combination works great for the outdoors and wood can last outdoors with this treatment. While we can put a man on the moon, we still don’t know how to maintain the luster of wood when it’s kept outdoors for more than four seasons, so annual maintenance is required if this becomes outdoor furniture which it’s capable of being, the steel won’t rust anymore thanks to the clear coat, the wood will stay beautiful and maintain all the markings during its life with annual maintenance and all the hardware used is stainless steel, that’s actually the only new thing on this project, the screws, I even used reclaimed bronze & copper wire for almost all the accents.

The rest of these images are of the final bench set after clear coats have dried and passed all QC tests. These benches are strong, reliable and will provide years of enjoyment for their new owners.

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Thanks for reading about these benches. These are for sale in the Portland, USA area.

300.00 for one bench, 500.00 for both.

If you’d like to use these as outdoor benches, I’ll be happy to provide a hands on consultation for the wood treatment by coming out to the benches and applying it myself the first year as a courtesy to follow up with you and show you the details on how to apply this yourself in the following years OR we can talk about me continuing maintenance.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Fab tip: Using sheet sandpaper on a hook loop DA sander

Polishing some surfaces require a DA (dual action) sander. If you have a hook loop setup (or others I’m sure) and don’t have the grit you need, you can use  low tac spray adhesive to glue flat sheets onto a spent hook loop disc and finish your project. 

  
Depending on your needs, you can trim the paper to match the disc, so far I prefer to keep it square and let the excess taper help bevel the edges. 

A couple more pics, but this really is a self explanatory process for anyone that owns one these sanders. I hope it’s useful to others. 

 Just a thin coat of adhesive is required, make sure to keep the spent disc away from the sander while spraying, air tools don’t like adhesives.   
  Ready to go in less than a minute.  
The sheets are easy to remove so one spent disc is all you need for repeated use. 

And this is the finished project that inspired this hack. A damaged 3D printing bed that needed to be flattened out for a client of mine, 1200 grit smooth and ready for printing 

Thank for reading. 

More to come. 

 

Chat

Forever flower

I enjoy taking care of plants, my partner enjoys plants as well, her green thumb though, yea, well… Currently she has a lone bamboo stalk I gave her months ago that’s doing great. Since her job is already demanding, I don’t want to add more to the things she has to pay attention to.

So the forever flower.

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11 spoons total with one single spoon handle still attached and wrapped around the 3/16″ spring steel, I placed the rod in the vise, then used vise grips to hold the spoon to the rod, then I wrapped the spoon up the rod and then welded the rest of the spoons on in 3 tiers.

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I have some hexagon base plates I knew would come in handy for art like this,

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so after the spoons were welded on, I welded the flower to the base plate then media blasted everything so everything looked smooth and uniform.

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Now comes the fun part, patina work, since the spoons are stainless steel, the acid etch I use only changes the surface of the steel rod and base plate and the stainless stays shiny. I use Steel FX Paninas and am a big fan of the ways Bill Worden makes his magical etches. I used copper FX and torch FX to get this dark copper purple tone. I’m unaffiliated to Bill, I appreciate what his product allows me to create though.

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After I achieved my desired results, I rinsed it off with water thoroughly then died it completely using compressed air.

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Then I clear coated the while piece with Rustoleum semi gloss clear and set it aside to let it dry then give to my belle~

Thanks for reading.
More to come.
And here’s a random picture of my studio light that I added another piece to, the mesh is a Pisces sign~

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Shaping eyes out of sheet metal with hammers and a shot bag

I’ve been commissioned to make a sculpture that requires a set of eyes, I knocked out a couple of prototypes (pun intended) then decided on rustier one of the two.

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I started out with a flat piece of 24ga mild steel sheet metal that has a beautiful rust patina from years of being outside.


I then drew out where I wanted the lines to be with pencil and started shaping the steel with a facing hammer and ball pein hammer.

Bang bang bang, flip the steel, bang some more.

Bang bang flip flop look flip look bang bang bang.
You start to see the shape forming finally, time to sketch out the lines again since they’ve been beaten to oblivion.

At this point the hammer blows are getting consistently lighter and lighter, the shape is now there, the light blows are about smoothing out the work.

And here’s a sneak peek at the project, it’s tough to fill in the blanks visually, but I see it completed already. I’ve got about 5 days of work left then I’m going to store it outside for the winter to rust, plenty of more pics on the way before that.

  
Thanks for reading.

More to come.

Annealing sheet metal with a fire pit

I’m making a fire pit for a friend, part of that process is heating up the barrel to burn off the outer coatings, you do this by getting a blistering hot fire going, what a perfect opportunity to anneal some steel.

The video really sums up the entire project, I made a very hot fire and had a coal bed that was about 12″ deep, I put the sheet metal that I’m making for a sculpture into the fire pit then covered it with the lid. The sheet metal sat in a 1200º fahrenheit oven that slowly cooled down over a period of about 6 hours. *skip to 1:20 if you want to see the annealing process.

The following image is what I ended up with, I’m really pleased at how pliable the metal is, all the mallet blows made this steel work hardened and very brittle, not anymore!

Annealed sheet metal

 

The coloring is from an acid etch I’m using to add texture to this metal, I’ll repeat this process at least another three or four more times before I’m close to done with this sheet metal.

Lastly, here’s a sneak peek at the sculpture these are being made for as well, a thirteen foot tall anatomically correct chicken head.

chix head sneek peek

Thanks for reading.

More to come.

Replacing the handle on a ball pein hammer

I had a ball pein hammer given to me, the handle was worse for wear but the hammer head was still in really good shape.

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First order of business was to saw off the handle then drill into the part of the handle that was still attached to the hammer head then use a punch to push the rest of the wood out.

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Then I sanded, and sanded, and sanded the handle till it fit the hammer head just right, it’s important to not use power tools and hand sand this part, power tools will take off too much material.

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After the handle was sanded down, I took the hammer head and media blasted with some aluminum silicate.

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I then wedged the hammer head onto the handle by dropping the hammers butt end on an anvil about two dozen times.

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Then a quick coat of spray paint for a nice accent.

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Then I inserted the hardwood shim and the steel wedge in the top of the hammer the cut off the excess wood and sanded down the top.

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I finished off the project by wood burning my initials in the hammer then treating the hickory handle with boiled linelseed oil.

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Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Imgur gallery.

Propane forge burner testing

Ron Riel’s contributions to the blacksmithing community by sharing his wealth of knowledge proved priceless during the research portion of this project.

I built everything from scratch and 30 dollars of hardware from my local ace hardware store.
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Take a look at it in action!

I already have the kaowool and other pets necessary to finish my forge, all that will happen next week.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Making corkscrews with a forge

I fired up the forge and made a pair of blacksmith tongs based out of need.

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Then I grabbed some 3/16″ pencil steel (a little bit too thick, I’ll probably go down to 1/8″ or even 1/16″ for the finished product), drew tapers on the end of the rods then got them to a dull glowing red, I then used vise grips to attach the rod to a 3/8″ rod I had clamped in a vise, after it was attached, I wrapped the rod around the other rod (I know, I know, Rodfest 2015) and came up with this.

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I then flattened out the coil with some light taps to make a more consistant coil.

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I then heated the metal back up one last time and stretched the coil out to a corkscrew.

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After a couple mistakes and learning some good ways to make corkscrews, I have a better understanding of what I’ll be doing to refine this process and be using stainless steel rod for my next time with making these along with some hardwood handles.

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Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Time lapse of my soldering iron heating up

I was making some stencils for a comissioned art piece, there were some tight rounded corners that I wanted to burn in to create smooth transitions in the lines, but I didn’t have an appropriate solder tip.
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So I made one with the same technique I sharpen my tungsten electrodes for tig welding, the project created it’s own backdrop as I decided to do this time lapse of fresh shiny copper being heated up, picture taken every 3 seconds, mildly interesting and only 7 seconds long.

https://youtu.be/YDUhUerz-GY

I’ll be sharing photos of the comissioned work soon.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Storefront signage for THRIVE

I’m pleased with how the project turned out, the letters are 18″ tall and made out of .25″ plate steel, the carrot sculptures are both 36″ tall.

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The client wanted the letters to be rusted, as you can see, they aren’t, after deliberate conversation and discussing the options, the client chose the above pictured recommendation to maximize contrast against a reclaimed wood marquee that has already been built for this project.
*marquee measures 4′ x 8′.

First I did research to find out what font the restaurant had on their business cards since they couldn’t redily get a hold of their designer, it was closest to Gothic 13, I then drafted the proofs for the sign using Gothic 13, here’s a link to the 1:1 scale proof with the business card sample in the corner.

After the proofs were approved, I got to work laying out the letters.

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Then I drilled pilot holes for all the starting points where I’d be cutting that weren’t on the edge of the steel, this steps critical for clean cuts, the cleaner your cuts, the less time you spend fixing the problems sloppy cuts make.

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And here’s a video of said letters after they’re cut out.

After all the letters were cut out and the edges were dressed, I needed to make anchor points to the back of the letters with .375″ (3/8) all thread, I made a jig out of some scrap angle iron, washers, and a small block of .5″ steel, this would allow to me to quickly install the all thread and weld it into place.

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The next step was to make sure all the studs had nuts threaded properly, after I got all the nuts on, I used some blue loctite to keep the nuts in place, this keeps them from being lost and the thread safe while being stored or in transit.

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Time to paint, I cut some pipe that fit over the all thread so I could paint it without worries of spraying the threads, after the steel.was completely wiped down with acetone, I laid a total of four coats of matte black to all the sides then let it cure for 24 hours.

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After the past fully cured, I gently placed each letter in a vise by the all thread (I used duct tape and cardboard on the jaws of the vise to keep the all thread safe) then ground down the outer edges at about a 70° angle to shiny bare steel to create contrast to the letters, this was a nerve wracking process understanding a simple mistake could lead to hours of rework because air grinders make light work of a freshly cured paint job, slowly and methodically I beveled all the edges and the letters look great! As soon as each letter was beveled, I took it to a spray room and clear coated the entire letter to seal in the shine of the steel, stopping oxidation and further protecting the paint job, three more clear coat applications, and the project is complete.

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I’ll update this post after the sign ends up in the air with an address for you to check out the sign if you’re here in Portland.

I also made the carrot sculptures a week before I made these letters, I’ll write about that when the time is available.

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Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Production run of furniture brackets

I picked up a new client that comissioned me to make a set of eight steel plates that had countersinks in each side at specific locations, she already had the plates and was going to machine them herself because she’s already a woodworker and had adequate tools, she started out with making the 5/8″ radius corner on 1 of the 8 plates she wanted and realized this project was bigger than she wanted to take on since her shop is set up for wood, after a brief discussion including drawing out plans, I got to work.

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I started out by squaring up all the plates and welding them together so I could round out all the corners consistently, then I took an angle grinder with a disc cutting wheel and cut all the corners off, making sure to not cut inside the radius line already defined by the top example plate. The following is what one of the corners of the plate stack looks like after being cut, notice the outward angle, this is fine, all I want to do is knock off the corner so it doesn’t destroy the sanding belt.

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Once all the corners were cut off, I knocked down all the rough edges with the vertical sanding belt, then I started the finishing process by using the disc sander that has a base plate square to the disc.

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I started by using the outside of the wheel, that’s where the wheel spins the fastest and takes metal off the most aggressively, then I continued to float the plate stack into the sander, being careful not to apply too much pressure so everything begins to blend together, something that looks like this.

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Tollerances can be tighter or looser, for this job, the corners are more than adequate.
I then made all my marks for where the holes belong, manually punched out the marks perfectly at the cross hairs, then sent 1/8″ pilot holes in all the locations where holes were to be drilled.

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When drilling holes in steel, it’s important to keep your bits cool by using lubricant, I easily get 5x the life out of these bits compared to other users, a slow hand and understanding of pressure goes a long way.

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After the pilot holes have been drilled, I’m ready to send the full sized bits for the plates through, at this point, it’s cake, the pilot holes took the slow hand, now it’s time to finish off the holes, I start by, “kiss cutting” the holes to make sure the bit is centered, the bit naturally wants to fit into the slot once you get the feel.

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After seeing equal spacing in all sides, I send the drill bit down using allot of lubricant to keep the drill but cool so it doesn’t loose it’s edge.

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I then used larger drill bits to create the countersinks a cording to the bolts required, this project had the drill.press running for a long time.

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Two stacks of the same plates, each side has its own countersinks, the client was ecstatic about the plates and how well they fit into her furniture build.

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Hand machining helps me build my skillset as an artisan, I appreciate these jobs because they are profitable and continue refining my ability to do precision work.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Rebar table legs

I picked up a new client that’s already a wood worker, she wanted to make a table from a reclaimed slab of wood, so we discussed the options until I felt I had an idea that she liked,  I drafted up a bid for this job and sent it with much amplifying details beside the engineering specs I sent her, She explained how her partner had a specific eye for things, so I sent a video to show her a mock up of the legs I’d make for her

She loved the look and wanted to proceed, so I cut the lengths of rebar down to size, leaving a few extra inches of length to accomidate for the fine tuning required near the end of this project and started out with the first set of bends.

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After these bends, I realized that my center rod would need to be tapered, so I fired up the forge to blacksmith the center rod to a chisel taper, you can tell the forge isn’t hot yet because the entire chamber is still blue.

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After tapering the center rods, I fit them into the crease of the outer leg and welded them together, I then put the welded legs back into the forge to create the bend for the foot, as you can see, the forge is starting to get to a normal operating temperature of arpund 1800°.

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While I was waiting for those bars to heat up, I grabbed some 1″ x .25″ bar stock and cut them to length, one side is a square end, the other side at 45° I then nested the pieces in a square, clamped them down and welded them together.

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Kind of tough to take pictures while using a vise, but at this point, I took the glowing orange hot legs and put them in a vise and bent them 90° to create the feet on the legs, here’s a picture of the feet after the bends were completed.

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After the bends were complete, I got the legs plumb with the ground in a vise, then cut the excess distance off the legs and prepared to install the brackets to the legs, since the center leg was completely plumb, it was easy to use a level to determine square.

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After this point, the legs are completed and finished with clear coats ti enhance the luster of the metal.

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Client will be picking these legs up right before Halloween, I’ll post more pictures after the legs are installed to complete this slab table project.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Sissy bar jig for hardtail motorcycles

I was talking shop with a friend that’s making his own motorcycle frames, we got on the topic of blacksmithing and production runs of steel using jigs, we decided to break out his forge, grabbed some my octagonal stock, and put some twists in the steel to start figuring out a game plan.
These following pictures are some hand bent pieces I made yesterday to figure out which bends would look best and taking measurements to determine bend points.

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While these parts are, “easy” to make if you have access to forges, anvils, heavy fab tables, and enjoy doing this, the market I’m approaching are people who know how to weld but want to spend their time riding, not fabricating.
In order for the riders to want to spend their hard earned money on my steel, it needs to be consistant and symmetrical, this is where the jig comes into play, after determining the distances from center, I laid everything out on a 11″ x 24″ .25″ steel plate I hand cut from a larger piece:

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I then cut down a half dozen 1″ dogs (dogs are short posts you can wrap steel around to bend them) and carefully fit each one up, clamped it down

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welded the dog into place, then repeated all the steps

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The angle iron tabs at the edge of the plate are there so I’ll be able to flip this jig over and have another jig on the opposite side while being able to clamp this down and it stay level and secure.

To further accomidate the compound bend at one of the points, I cut the bottom part of the plate off with a plasma cutter and welded it ba k to the plate at the same angle the bend needs to be, once the steel gets bent in this jig, I’ll weld it together and that’s it!

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I also took some video to share more about the jig making process, I’ll be doing some hot steel bending videos soon that will share the techniques used on how to get those cool twists in the steel.

During the winter months, I’ll be continuing this project and share more parts I’m making along with finished work.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Hand forged breaker bar from 1.75″ tool steel (part one)

I had a stressful day and felt the need to beat on steel, since I like for the things I  do to have purpose, I decided to forge a breaker bar.

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This bar is the real deal, I still need to weigh it, without a doubt the title, “heavy duty” will suffice until the weigh in.

I took a video during the last fire of the day to show how hot steel gets in a forge and show the millscale removal process.

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On the right side of the next image, you’ll see a .5″ round stock that I squared up then drew to a taper while I was waiting for the forge to warm up enough to feed the octa stock and really beat on some steel.

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This next picture shows the backstop I’m using to hold the heat in my forge, this 4″ square tube will eventually be millscaled from the heat, at that point, I’m going to make a “Thor Hammer” out of it by welding end caps on then adding more millscale and setting a nice hard wood handle with leather straps, hey, if you’re gonna use a forge, you may ad well take advantage of all the heat.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Rain water catch basin

Nothing particularly spectacular about this project, but it was very satsfying to do; not yet fully completed, I’ll get to add art to this for the final step of the project.

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The entire basin was made out of one full sheet of  .25″ plate steel, all hand cut with an oxy acetelyne torch, weighing in at just under 300 lbs, this thing is heavy, the finished dimensions are 2′ x 2′ x 3′ tall

The entire box holds water with no leaks, this was the gratifying part, along with welding 3′ sections continuously with my Millermatic 210, it’s great to be able to run long welds w/o having the welder cut off due to overheating, also, when you weld in an enclosed space, the sound of welding is so loud you have to wear hearing protection as well, not a bad idea considering how many sparks are flying all over the place.
I used 1.25″ x 1.25″ x .25″  angle iron and welded then 1″ from the top edge to accomidate a top grate I’m going to make.

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For now, it will go to sit in the ground so the excavators working on this french drain project can figure out where they want the 10″ holes cut, I’ll then take my portable oxy acetelyne rig out there and cut the holes.
In a few weeks, I’ll be making the cover for this basin, an art piece dedicated to the man’s wife who I’m doing this project for.

For now, back to fabricating furniture and steel signage for another new restaurant I’m doing work for.
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Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Have you tried to oil it??

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A little over a year ago, I fabricated a rotating base for this Lyman Whitaker kinetic wind sculpture due to the original being lost during a move from the east coast to Portland.
It was a really fun project to do and I have nothing but great things to say about the crew over at Whitaker studios that helped me source additional parts to finish the job.
My client emailed me yesterday, asking about the sculpture not spinning freely anymore, I always plan for the worst and hope for the best, so I went over to her home to check things out, much to my satisfaction everything seemed to be operating fine, I inspected closer and noticed slight friction, “have you tried oiling it?” I then explained which parts needed oil and how to apply it. She was pleased as punch that the sculpture only needed minimal maintenance and she wouldn’t get a bill for the house call, my fabrication job is working exactly as it should.

This inspired me to have some more fun with kinetic wind sculptures, not enough hours in the day : )

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Crystal geode sculpture with tree of life patterned base stand

My new studio is in an industrial studio complex with dozens of other makers and doers. I had some free time on my hands and decided to make this sculpture and am letting it tumble around the halls to see if it yields any results.

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I have made a few dozen of these, all different incarnations, if you’ve been out to What The Festival, you’ve seen my work there.

After I made the sign, I attached my business card to it and a call for art in the hope that it encourages artists to come over to my studio and play.

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Now to make some more furniture and wait to see if anyone takes me up on my offer!

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Shaping sheet metal to make part of a sculpture

I’m going to be writing quite a bit more about this in the near future, this was me fooling around with making some dinosaur (a.k.a. chicken) eyes for a sculpture I’m completing.

I took a piece of sheet metal with a really nice looking rust patina on it,

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and got to work, I used a leather sand bag with some different hammers and punched out a shape of the eye, then I sent the sheet through the air hammer (LOUD, but so much fun) to smooth out the rough dents I made with the hammers then sent it through the English wheel.

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After repeating this process three times, the sheet metal was so hardened I could tell it would start to stress fracture soon if I kept working it, I felt accomplished and didn’t feel like annealing the project so I left is as is and took this last picture.

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Pretty cool huh!?!
The next step to continue work will be to heat this entire piece of metal until it’s glowing dull red, then bury the sheet in sand and let it slow as cool as possible so it becomes softer and can be work hardened again, and again, until it’s just right.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Improved the performance of my welding leathers

I either wear a hoody or arm leathers when I’m welding, the leathers I use now are the first set I purchased and doubt I’ll ever need to replace them, BSX welding gear makes some exceptional welding products,
There was a slight flaw though, the bib attaches by a series of buttons and they will snap loose when your reaching for something almost out of reach, this can be frustrating when you’re wearing welding gloves and don’t want to stop a weld to fix your leathers.

So I took a punch and some leather strap and laced the bib to the arm leathers so they wouldn’t break free.

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A simple, cross stitch style, I wet the ends of the leather and tied them into a knot, wetting the leather will help the pores open up and close again interlaced with the binding leather.

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Here’s what the leathers look like now, after this fix, they look cooler and I no longer have the button pop blues~

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Thanks for reading.
More to come.

10″ bench vise made from plate steel

My buddy was watching this YouTube video from a long time fabricator that’s uploaded many useful videos for welders and fabricators, ChuckE2009.
The only materials we didn’t have on hand was the 36″ piece of 1″ all thread and a couple 1″ nuts, my buddy had some extra .25″ stainless steel and I had the remaining tool steel to help finish the foundation. All the steel you see on the table made this vise.

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The first thing we did was take ALLOT of measurements to determine the drive shafts height and welded the core together.

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Then we fit up the side walls then welded them into place, note that the 2″ x 4″ square tube has the bottom part cut out of it and the drive shaft is inside the 2″ x 4″ you can also see this in the parts picture above.

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Then the vertical assembly for the jaws were welded on then we used some 10″ lengths of 1.75″ octagon tool steel.

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We were too busy cutting and welding as a team to take time for more pictures at this point, I was pushing 70 amps out of my Millermatic 210 for hours, when I wasn’t welding, I was continuing to refine my plasma and oxy acetelyne torch cutting, a skill you can lose if you don’t remain proficient, we completed this vise in one night!

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It take a whopping 75 rotations to open this vise up to its full 10″ throat, we decided to sacrifice a 3/4″ drive socket and welded it to the drive shaft bolts, going to buy a 3/4″ driver drill bit so this vise will open quickly and be able to be torqued equally fast.

Here’s the vise with a 6″ bench vise to provide a sense of scale, I love the face the 6″ vise is making, quite apropos for the comparison.

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The next step is to spend some time grinding down the welds and clean up the spatter, after that, we’ll be tapping to Octa rod with some set screws that will allow some heavy right angle stock to be able to use the vise with a square face.

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I’ll update this with part II after the next round where we add the square face and continue to grease the bench vise.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Furniture fabrication

It’s been a busy couple weeks! This is the fourth installment of furniture captured in the clear coating stage of production.

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I’ll be sanding and staining the cedar planks that will finish this project the coming week.

The next time you see photos of these, they will be finished and in my portfolio collection.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Continuing chicken head fabrication

My clients restaurant is about to open and they are ready for me to shift gears back into making art! This is the reason I make all the tables and other metal projects, so I can make art.
Ironically I don’t enjoy being labeled as an artist, I prefer artisan, art can be anything, popsicle sticks glued together haphazardly can make beautiful art, in an artists hands, artisanship however requires a clear indication that something was intentionally crafted together, the results can be art and sometimes look as haphazard as the popsicle sticks, but the core of the project must show some fundamental understanding of the materials being used.

While this picture doesn’t look like much, it’s the beginning of something awesome I’m making that’s going to be on a main thorough-way in North Portland, mounted on the rooftop of a rotisserie house that’s about to open its doors called, “The Coop”, in a few short weeks, I’m going to finish making this sculpture and install it for all to see!

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Thanks for reading.
More to come.

I’ve update my portfolio!

When making furniture that looks like this, there isn’t much time to blog, excited to complete this furniture order!

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In the meantime, check out my portfolio page if you’d like more of an update on the mixed media work I’ve been doing lately.

As always, thanks for reading.

More to come.

Custom post step fabrication

I recently have been building out my studio space, allot of general contracting happens automatically when you know how to measure accurately and know how to use power tools.
Before the steps I built, my space looked like this.

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To get to the top level, I needed to use a ladder, this needed to change so I could have quick access to grab a tool or material stored overhead.
I took a car spring and mocked it up to a 4×4 post and determined where to cut them to make steps the would mount to a 4 x 4 post.
I then used a piece of 1/8″ x 1″ bar stock and cut them to 4″ pieces, after all the cutting and grinding was completed, I had six steps from the car spring and twelve base plates that would mount to the 4 x 4 post.

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I also drilled 3/16″ holes in the baseplate intentionally offset in order for the 5″ screws I’d be using to purchase in separate veins of the post.

Once the pieces were all ready, I screwed them to my mockup post and welded the steps on.

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Here’s a shot of the staging area right before welding.

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After all the welding was complete, I had six steps ready to install!

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I used 20″ spacing for the steps, the feel really nice and secure. Here’s a few other shots of the steps.

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Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Drill press chuck customization

One of my business partners scored this Jet drill press off Craigslist for one hundred dollars for my shop, that’s a screaming deal.

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While installing this drill press I discovered the chuck key was for a 1/4″ chuck, the chuck on this drill press is 11/16″ that’s a pretty noticeable difference.

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I found a universal chuck key that had an 11/16″ head on it for under five dollars and free shipping on EBay, after the chuck key arrived in the mail, I knew immidiately there wasn’t enough handle on this key to get adequate torque on the drill press chuck.

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So I decided to lop off the other keys and.give this thing a REAL handle.

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After using a right angle cutting disc to remove the keys, I ground the edges smooth then wire wheeled the key so it’s smooth to the touch.
After holding a sharpie up to the drill press as a mock up handle, I decided 4.5″ was the perfect length, so I grabbed a piece of 3/8″ bar stock and cut off a piece to size, I then found a couple extra nuts around and decided they’d be perfect slide stops. I used a magnet to hold the pieces in place, and welded to end caps on.

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Here’s what it looks like after being cleaned up on the wire wheel.

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And finally to grab one of my neodymium magnets to keep the key in place instead of needing a slot or string, this magnet is really strong, this key won’t fall even under heavy use.

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Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Tent stake prototyp’n

Last year I made the previous version of these tent stakes as a project that was handed over to me from a former mentor, ever since then I’ve been thinking how to improve them.
After allot of thought and a couple scribbles.

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I’ve finally come up with something I’m really excited about and know this is a solid design.

I started out by cutting about a dozen small posts made out of 3/4″ tool steel and fit them up on a base plate, carefully considering the angle of each of the post, the smallest post is 3/4″ tall and the tallest is 3″ from the baseplate.

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After getting everything fit up, I welded all the posts into place then started heating up some #4 rebar with a rosebud torch on an oxy acetelyne rig, this will require breaking out the forge to really get this rebar to a good bending temp next time I make these.
Here’s a shot of my first try (on top of jig) with the second try in the background.

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After the bending is complete, I add a piece of angle iron to the top center of the stake so there’s a place to strike your mallet.

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Here’s what the stake looks like out of the ground.

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A shot of the stake in the ground.

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Notice there are no places to cut your foot like the previous version and the hook bar on the outside also doubles as handles that help you easily pull these stakes out of the ground by adding a little twist to the removal process.

I talk all about this process and the stakes in this video.

I’ll be making a slew of these getting ready for the dusty campers that need to keep their gear on the ground.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Penetrol, this stuff is amazing

I use Penetrol as a clear coat for steel projects when I don’t want the to rust anymore.
Here’s a video discussing Penetrol and some tips for application.

Penetrol demonstration.

Penetrol can be applied with a air sprayer as well, additional coats are required for complete coverage and to really pull out the luster of the steel.

A valuable asset in any steel sculptors arsenal when used properly.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Chicken butt installation

Today was a great day, I got to hang out with friends and install this thirteen foot tall sculpture I made over a year ago. I wrote a bit about this back in 2013.

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This is a commissioned sculpture that has been waiting for this moment for over a year. Made of sheet metal cut out with a plasma cutter, here’s a pic of me cutting out some feathers:

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Hundreds and hundreds of feathers were cut out for this project. The framework is comprised of 3/4″ steel tube that was hand bent to match the anatomical shape of a chicken. After Google undoubtedly thought I may have been a bit too much into chicken butts, I finally completed this and coated the entire sculpture with Penetrol (a metal shellac that will stop it from ever rusting again) using an air sprayer.

Fast forward to the present, time to install this thing!!
First I made a template of the base with a large piece of cardboard then transferred the template to the cedar shingle wall and removed the outline of the chicken but with an oscillating saw.

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I used 3/8″ steel plate as a, ” baseplare” and hand cut out the steel with an oxy-acetylene torch to match up the sculpture. Even welding steel this thick to thin wall pipe takes skill and patience or you’ll blow holes in the lightweight pipe.

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I set the heat on the welder to be able to weld the 3/8″ plate steel, pulled the trigger and let a good weld puddle form then I pushed the puddle over to the thin wall pipe and the puddle instantly welded itself to the pipe, looking good.
After the top and bottom baseplate was installed, I used 3/4″ all thread and welded the all thread to the baseplate, keeping everything completely square since the holes in the wall were already drilled, at this point, not much room for error.

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I also used two 800lb chains as an additional support to hold this up in case of something like seismic activity.
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After some nudging and shoving, it’s installed!!!
Here’s some more pictures:

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Next step is to have the electrician come in and wire up the back deck with some spotlights so this will shine in the night!!
Less than a month away before this restaurant opens, excited.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

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6″ aluminum cube

Three years ago I had a fabricating mid term to make a 6″ cube out of a flat piece of 1/8″ metal.

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I cut the aluminum to spec and tig welded it up for a 97 out of 100. You’ll have to watch the video to find out why I didn’t ace it.

Lessons learned.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Made a pull-up bar by my workbench

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There was a 1.25″ pipe laying around I’ve been intending on turning into a pull up bar for a few months now.
I took a piece of 1/4″ steel plate from a previous art project that had jagged edges and I thought would look good for the base plate.
I drilled out 5 holes in the plate steel, then took the plate to the bench grinder and smother all the edges, then I repeated the process with a wire wheel the make everything smooth to the touch.

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I used 5″ brass screws and mounted the bar about 8′ off the ground.

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Now to work on my reps, picking up steel isn’t exactly light work..

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Made a hook for my oxy-acetylene hoses

The new shop keeps improving every day. Finally yesterday was the first time I needed to use my oxy acetelyne torch to bend some steel using heat.

After uncoiling the 50′ hose, I knew I didn’t want to hassle with that drama again so I decided to make a hook for the hose.

I grabbed a 1/8″ flat bar piece and cut it down to about 6″, after that I drilled two holes in the plate steel using a drill and self tapping screw, this option works very well if you just want some quick holes and you don’t want to change out bits on your drill press.

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After cleaning up all the edges, I lopped off 12″ of 3/4″ bar stock and applied heat to the bar stock with a rosebud attachment on my oxy acetylene torch and bent the rod to an acceptable hook angle.
After everything cooled down, I welded the bar stock to the plate I drilled out.
At this point I saw room for another hook under the primary hook and lopped off a half circle section of a car spring I had laying around, so I welded that up as well.

After a biy of post weld wire brushing, here’s what the final hook looks like installed.

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Now the oxy hoses have a home and there’s a small hook below that can hold the soapy water comnainer or bottle caps.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Rain barrel towers

A client of mine needed some small towers to hold up their four water reclamation rain barrels.

I started out by cutting the steel for the tops of the towers. Making sure to get 45° cuts and taking the time to make sure the saw is tuned in pays big dividends when it comes to welding time.

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Each of the four tops are square to 1/64″. If you’re not a fabricator, this might not sound like a big deal, but it’s quite precise measurement. I’m getting really good at making things with tight tolerances and clean angles. There’s always room for improvement though.
Here you can see one of the assembled towers with three more tops waiting for their bases to be made on the left hand side.

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I had the tops dialed in, the legs though needed to pitch out to provide additional stability for these stands, they will weigh almost 500 pounds when they are full of water.
How to make the legs split out evenly though…
After some thought, I decided to make a fixture made out of wood of a perfect square, a few inches larger than the top of the tower. So I tack welded on the legs with the tower upside down for ease then flipped over the tower and lined the bottom of the legs up with my new fixture, after the tower was in place, I used a ratchet strap to pull all the legs together. Time to weld, this fitup is going just as planned.

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I was able to make three out of the four towers today, the last tower is going to be taller than the other three and will require more steel.
Here’s a picture of two of the towers with the final frame resting on top.

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And here’s what one of the towers looks like after the cedar planks have been installed with its rain collection barrel on top.

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UPDATE:
Finished the big tower after grabbing some more steel this morning. Three of the towers are 3′ tall and the fourth is 4′ 6″
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All on ongoing portfolio piece I’m building in North Portland.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

ADA handrail set (part four)

Finally complete!!
This is the second most complicated handrail and by far uses the most steel,
over 120′ of 1.5″ pipe, not including base plates made to spec.

Here’s the first, second and third set leading up to this set.

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Here’s a closeup of what the connections look like.

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The partner to this rail which still meets the same requirements yet involved a bit less labor is already completed and installed.

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Now it’s into more creative endeavours, I get to make rain barrel stands out of steel, Wild West style.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

ADA handrail set (part three)

Here’s handrails five and six of the eight part set.

Here’s the first two then the following third and fourth.
These are required due to maintenance techs needing to work on the ventilation that’s on the rooftop safely.

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Both rails are identical and measure exactly to spec.

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I’m wrapping up the final two handrails in two days and will write about them as well.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

ADA handrail set (part two)

I already wrote about the first two of eight handrails I’m making.
Here’s the third and fourth handrails I fabricated out of 1.5″ pipe.

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These rails turned out really nice. All the fitup was custom while staying in compliance with ADA standards.

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And here’s some closeups.

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These have been spray painted with black primer and will be finished with black paint by a professional painter in the next week or two.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

ADA handrail set (part one)

The handrail on the left hand side was pretty easy, the angles weren’t too complicated and I was able to complete it in about 3 hours.

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The second of this pair of handrails on the right was tricky though. There were multiple locations where compound miter cuts were required to make a good fitup.

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I really like how they turned out, I’ll be writing more about the other rails I’m doing as well.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Custom header brackets

We’re making a larger movie room at my shop here at Watershed PDX to accommodate friends on movie night.
We needed to knock down some load bearing walls; meaning we need to put header supports where the wall used to hold up the ceiling.

We had all the hardware and wood. Time to make two costom brackets to connect five pieces of heavy lumber together.

I cut all my pieces out after measuring everything then started drilling all the holes required to attach hardware to the lumber. I used a stepper bit on a drill press to drill a 7/16″ hole in all the steel, all in all, 60 holes drilled!

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I didn’t have allot of time to take pictures of the fabricating.
Here’s two shots showing the first bracket being made.

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After a pile of cutting and welding, I came up with these two brackets. *pictures rotate clockwise around the column

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Here’s the second bracket.

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The headers are installed looking good and solid! A few more days of light construction with drywall and paint to finish things off.
I’ll update this post when it’s complete.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Custom fabricated plant hanger installation

I made three plant hangers a little while back, now it’s time to finish them off by curling the ends of steel on them, literally.

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So I made a jig to bend the flat bar stock that needed curling.

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I heated up the ends of the flat steel bar with an oxy acetylene torch and used the small forked end of this jig to hold the red shot steel as I bent the ends into a curly que.

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My client wanted the hand bent look and he got it! I can also make these curls identical when making things like this in my shop.

Here’s two more pictures of the hangers in action.

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Here’s a video of all three plant hangers installed along with a few other things I’ve been wrapping up as well.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Installed an awning I fabricated

Here’s a picture of my friend and ongoing business partner, Solomon installing an awning I made about a year ago.

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It has been intentionally weathered outside to gain the look it has now. 
After running over it with a wire wheel and giving it some coats of Penetrol, to keep it from rusting again (if you work with steel and don’t know about Penetrol yet, I’ll write a post with some videos on it soon and link this post, amazing stuff), it’s ready for hardware!!

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Three 5/16″ lag screws mount each awning to the wall, total of six screws.

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Self tapping screws mount the galvanized sheet metal roof to the 3/8″ flat bar stock on top of the awning.

Oh yea, see the fence on the right hand side?? I made that, the awesome ladder custom fit to size, I made that as well.

I get to have fun all week installing things I’ve been making over the course of almost two years. This restaurant looks nothing short of amazing! What an incredible real life portfolio this is becoming.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Car spring converted into an industrial rack

I wanted to make another industrial rack for my gear as the relentless chase for more space continues.

I had one more car spring that would be a great fit for this. In the bottom of this shot, you’ll see a finished piece as a comparison.

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Since I made a simpler version of this yesterday, not much experimenting here, time for fun with angles by making it asthetically pleasing and keeping it functional.

I started out by cutting the spring into half circles and cleaning/grinding.

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*Notice the sparks, they are flying straight, this means this is low carbon steel and hence more flexible than carbon steel, which is stronger but more brittle.
Here’s an illustration of what high carbon steel sparks look like. This can be useful when working with unknown materials to see if a part is adequate for its intended purpose.

After everything was prepped, I welded two of the pieces together to make an “S”, then welded the top coil of the spring to the “S” to make to rack standoff and center ring.

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I then added the additional hooks.

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Then the baseplate.

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*I’m still toying with ideas for using the spring as a baseplate, finding it difficult to drill holes in round stock that’s bent.

Now I have a RUGGED five hook rack that I can hang anything on. It flexes as well because it’s a car spring.
It’s neat too because you see it flex and your brain will tell you it might not be strong enough, this rack can easily hang over one hundred pounds off it. Likely much more but I have no need to test this.
A few more shots of the finished product. I like leaving this in its “industrial” state because it’s in my metal shop. Everything is completely smooth to the touch and I expect years of reliable service out of this rack.

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Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Bike hook coat rack

I needed a bike rack and coat hook at my shop, so I made one out of a repurposed VW spring that was laying around.
I used a right angle disc cutter to lop off four half circles.

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I used a bench wire wheel to knock off the crud, then a bench grinder to round off the sides that are going to be the exposed hooks, then I used a flap disc to smooth them down even more, after that I took the ends to the bench wire wheel to polish them up.
Here’s a picture of the ends in sequential order based off of the stage they are in.

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After I had all the grinding complete, I fit everything up by hand and ended up with this little gem.

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I used a piece of scrap to make the baseplate, now that I see it, I’m going to fool around with using a full coil as a baseplate for my next version.

This thing is strong too!!!
It can hold up my 24lb bike and at least 10lb backpack without a flinch. I’d have no problems hanging from this thing.

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Excited to make more of these for the rest of the shop so well have places to hang leathers and the likes.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Welding tip: Grounding clamps

There will be times when you can’t reasonably attach your grounding clamp or even don’t want to attach it if your clamp has strong springs.

To solve this, grab some scrap and clean up the surface of the connecting points and place your grounding clamp wherever you need to.

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In the pictured scenario, it’s actually helping apply weight to the small pipe so it won’t move before I weld it and help me keep a good right angle.

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Custom ADA handrail

Number seven out of the eight handrails I’m making.
I started out this morning with everything fitup and ready to weld.

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The reason this is a welding project on a piece of plywood?? Two reasons, first because the job is on site and the deck can’t be burned, second the template for this was drawn out on the plywood to assist fitup.

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Eight welds later and voila! Handrail complete. Here it is after a black primer coat.

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Since it was a custom fitup, the total time spent creating this was just over 5 hours. Welding is definitely the quickest part of whole project, the time.is really spent on getting all.the cuts as close to perfect as possible.

Only one more handrail and they all go to the painters to be painted then installed for the big reveal!

Thanks for reading.
More to come.

Gate lock fabrication

After installing the bay door gate we purchased at Watershed PDX, we needed to have a lock installed.
Here’s what the lock looks like after it was installed.

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The black locking bar assembly on the left was purchased. The swinging latch that connects the gate to the locking bar is what I built.

I used three scrap pieces of steel.
7/8″ schedule 40 pipe, 1 1/2″ x 1/8″ flat bar stock & some random pipe with a 1 1/4″ inner diameter.

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After I found these pieces, my first step was to cut the larger pipe in half using a fixture and guide to cut a straight line with and abrasive disc cutter.

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After I completed the cut on one side. The larger pipe looked like this.

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Before I could flip the pipe over and clamp it again for cutting, I needed to account for the 1/8″ kerf the abrasive disc cut made.
So I grabbed some 1/8″ wire and slipped some pieces in the existing cut slot.

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Then I flipped the pipe over and cut open the other side.

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After the second cut was made, I saw that the inside of the pipe was rusted and would make it tough to use as a sliding lock. After 2 minutes on the wire wheel, the rust on the right pipe is no longer an issue.

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Here’s both pipes wire wheeled clean.

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At this point, I’m ready to assemble the flat stock to the armature.
Here’s a picture of the fitup.

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After this was welded together. I took the welder out to the bay area to clamp the open pipe around and weld the pipe back shut around the gate post. Not many pictures of this since my hands were full.
Here’s what the lock assembly looks like in its various states.

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Thanks for reading.
More to come.