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Posts tagged ‘welding’

Welding: Kayak Rack (almost) Complete!

It’s taken me a while to finally get this posted.. My welding class ended a few weeks ago, and I finally got the chance to photograph the kayak rack I made on the truck yesterday! It works! I am utterly amazed that I was able to create something with right angles and exact measurements that is actually functional. It’s definitely not my natural tendency – I prefer organic shapes and just making things up as I go along. Ok, I admit it, that’s partly because I’m lazy and measuring things and planning them ahead is well, a lot of work! But with welding, I found that I really had to plan ahead, especially with something functional… so this project definitely pushed my out of my comfort zone.

Above: Removeable center piece for carrying two kayaks. Holes serve as tie downs to secure cargo!

Even though I went into it kicking and screaming a bit, once I started seeing this precise, exact thing come together that I made with my own two hands, it was pretty amazing. Something so new for me, and ended up being so rewarding to stretch myself into areas I’d previously defined as “things I just suck at”.

Details, Left: Loop to attach chain for the pin. Right: Vertically adjustable, with pin to secure.

A nice thing we realized when putting one of the kayaks on the rack is that it will be one we can grow into, as we have pretty short kayaks right now, but plan to buy longer ones down the road. It can also be used for transporting just about anything else long, like lumber or ladders… and with a piece of plywood laid out on it, it becomes a temp work table! I still have to get the it all painted, definitely going to rust if we use it like this at all! So painting will come soon! To paint myself or to have it painted? Hmmmm!

Welding: It Takes Forever…

So if you’ve been reading along with my quarterly project of welding, you know that I announced that my first project in the class would be a truck bed extender/kayak rack. It’s been a while since I’ve posted progress on this so here we go…

These pieces will end up creating something similar to the image below, minus the pivot point.

Tada! Yes… sadly this is as far as I’ve gotten in like two months of class. With only about a month left, it’s beginning to look like my first project will become my ONLY project. I’ve learned that there’s a lot that must be done before you can actually get around to welding pieces together. You have to plan and design, purchase metal from steel companies that are only open when you are at work (of course), measure measure and re-measure, cut all pieces to size, grind down cuts so they are nice and smooth and safe to handle, drill any holes or do sandblasting or any other thing you might need to do… and THEN… FINALLY… you can start welding shit together! Sheesh…

So this past Sunday I spent grinding and smoothing out a few remaining cut pieces, and then… I got to try my hand at the giant drill press!

Drill press… this thing was at least 6 ft tall
. Machinery bigger than me = effin scary.

I was surprised that drilling holes into metal was nothing like I’d imagined (I had conjured up images of sparks and very loud, jarring metal-on-metal screeching and grinding sounds). The trick is to use lots of oil and drill slowly… (refraining from dirty joke here). To my surprise the process was really quiet and smooth… like butter folks, like butter. My fear instantly dissolved as I drilled holes where holes needed to go!

Next week I plan to finish drilling a few holes I didn’t have time to get to Sunday, and then at long last I can finally start welding the thing together! Man, I better not eff this up… over $70 and endless hours of time already put into it! Here’s hoping that in 1-2 weeks I will have a totally completed kayak rack… just in time for the paddling season!

Quarterly Project: Welding & Malformed Metal Frogs

I haven’t posted in a few weeks about my adventures in learning how to weld. Since my last post, I’ve gotten to try out the plasma cutter and practiced just doing straight lines of welding beads to try and get the form and technique down. Plasma cutter is gloriously fun – mostly used for thin metal to do more finely detailed work. It was a ton of fun – like drawing in metal!

Finding My Niche
In my last class I also decided to mess around with the torch welder a bit. I grabbed some scrap re bar and started heating and bending it… my teacher showed me how to braid re bar, and off I went braiding away. Pretty sure I’m in love with bending and forming metal. My teacher said that I would probably really like blacksmithing because its more about bending and manipulating the metal form. Oh my.. looks like I will just have to take the blacksmithing class next!

Making Malformed Metal Frogs
This past weekend I started on an exciting project. Back in early college, I made these fun little wire frogs for my sculpture class. Over the course of a year, I sold about a dozen of them to various folks. Back then, I’d wanted to make larger versions of them, but the wire became too hard to bend at thicker gauges and I didn’t have any access to tools, so eventually I just filed the idea away. That was almost 10 years ago. And now I’m excited to get to dig this project back up and finally make the giant versions of these little guys I’ve dreamed of for nearly a decade!

Last Sunday I started on a test version just to see what size I want to make them, and to test the proportions of the limbs to the body and such. All I had to use was some pretty thick re bar scrap from the shop, so as you can see this little guy came out a bit malformed so far. Talk about some giant feet! I’m going to go buy some more metal in smaller diameters and try again next Sunday to hopefully get things closer. It’s going to take a lot of trial and error for sure. One of the trickier parts has been cutting all the ends on the arms so that the angle will match up to the body piece it needs to weld to. It’s a lot of “put piece in vice, cut it, take it out, check it, put back in vice, re-cut it, check it, grind it down, check it…” Definitely not anything as quick as just wrapping some thin wire together like the small versions! I’m excited about the challenge though, I think I can get there in maybe a month’s time.

Quarterly Project: Welding Is Definitely NOT Sexy

This past Sunday was my second welding class – and we got to do a bit of welding finally! I’m definitely not having the same awesome “fish in water” experience with this as I typically do with most artsy things. A little frustrating to not feel like comfortable as quickly as with drawing or photography – but we’ve all got things that don’t come naturally for us! So I’m having fun realizing that my vision of being this sexy welding chick is not exactly fitting into reality…

Yup. That is me. And I look like man. Lord almighty, welding is definitely not very flattering, particularly when it’s cold outside and you have no choice but to wear a 3XL leather welding jacket in which you can barely bend your arms enough to do the welding. I went to buy some leather work boots yesterday –  an area of women’s clothing that could really use some help. They make my feet look so immense that I look like Meg from Family Guy. Despite my disappointments in being able to retain a ladylike appearance in any form, I did grow up a tomboy – so really I quickly forget about all that and am suddenly lost in learning this cool new process!

Oh yes, and that helmet? You can’t see anything (and I mean anything) through those things until you make a few sparks – so it’s pretty impossible to actually weld where you planned on.

In the shot above I’m doing some MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding – which is essentially like a big hot glue gun. There is a piece of steel wire that runs through it, and when you hit a button on the nozzle it comes out and uses an electrical current or arc to melt the steel onto your metal surface. Pretty neat stuff! It took me some practice to figure out how to comfortably hold the nozzle and all, but after a short bit I started to get the hang of it.

(Instructor and one of the other classmates doing some stick welding)

We were introduced to stick welding too – which made me a little nervous. You use two giant positive/negative clamps like you’d use to jump your car. One clamp attaches to the metal table you’re working on and the other will hold a stick of steel that you weld with. Yeah… this just sounded like a bad idea to me. Alas, I did try it – and sucked pretty bad at it – but proud of myself anyway! Really hoping I can do most of my welding with the MIG welder though!

We’ll be starting our first projects in the next week or two. Right now, I’m thinking of making a truck bed extension for Andrew’s truck, so that we can more securely transport both of our kayaks this summer! It’s a pretty basic construction, just an L-shaped piece that fits into the trailor hitch with a bracket or bar on the other end to hold the kayaks. I’m a little nervous about making something functional – but going to give it a shot! Very excited!!

Inspiration: Michael Leeds’ Found-Object Motorcycles

Found another awesomely inspiring welder today! Michael Leeds builds these amazing true-to-scale motorcycle sculptures out of old rusty ice cream scoops, golf clubs, bicycle parts, film reels and yes, even parts of the kitchen sink! I haven’t been able to locate an official website for him, but you can read a bit more about him in this blog post by Ride the Machine. Enjoy!

Artist shown with several of his sculptures.







Inspiration: Brown Dog Welding!

My welding class starts in just a few DAYS!!! Weeeeeee! The last few times I’ve started to make a post about a whole slew of different welding/metalwork artists… I come across one that captures me so much that I am compelled to make an entire post about them! Today it is Brown Dog Welding, a one-man shop run by Josh Welton up in Michigan. (Anyone grinning at that last name? Love when people’s names resemble their art!)

He began on this path by working as a millwright apprentice for Chrystler in the early 2000’s. What began as a job quickly turned into a passion for him, and he was soon welding his own clever creations into reality. He holds several certificates for welding and is constantly improving his craft. And to top it off, he’s donating 10% of all company profits to Home Fur-Ever, where he and his wife adopted their dog Woodson (who is the inspiration for the company name!) as well as a non-profit in Detroit called Lifebuilders. Kudos to you guys – you are definitely doing things right! And now let us see the work!

Oh my word, how awesome is this Samurai warrior?!

Tractor (above) and detail shot (below) – love the texture he added to the body to roughen it up.

So impressed with all the deail on this fire truck!

Berzerker. Based on a character from Max Grundy’s “Out of Order

Thank you Josh for filling my little about-to-be-beginning mind with grand visions and possibilities!!


Inspiration: “Sky Art” by Ricardo Breceda

I’ve spent a little time today looking around online at various metal sculptures of all shapes and sizes in preparation for my welding class. It starts in just a little over a week and will be 14 weeks long. I am SO EXCITED to finally be learning this skill. I have been dreaming of it since I was in high school! In college I wanted so badly to take it, but the technical campus was across town and with a full load of classes and work I just could never quite seem to fit it in. So now I am!

The more I look at online the more excited I get… I already have lofty dreams of making ginormous metal creations, but when I saw this it just blew me away…

Ok so this one is like the end-all be-all of metal sculptures for me. I love dragons and all things fantasy – and was just in awe when I first stumbled on this sculpture by artist Ricardo Breceda. This fabulous creature is part of a whole series of outdoor metal sculptures by the artist. The collection – titled “Sky Art” – can be found living in the Borrego Valley of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park near San Diego, CA.

Breceda has a very inspiring story about how he became a metal sculptor. Until just a few years ago, he was a construction worker and a boot salesman. An accident ended up revealing to him this hidden talent. It just goes to prove that we should always try new things in our lives – as we never know what we might have a gift for! Great story! I am so inspired!


“Sky Art” Metal Sculptures of Borrego Valley – Anza-Borrega Foundation

Ricardo Breceda’s Official Website

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