The work that I do is uncommon, exciting and rewarding, not to mention lots of fun. Metalwork however, is not without its downsides, which include the very dirty messes created from it.
Frustrated with this, my shop mates have requested that I take the most obnoxious parts of my work outside to be done in our small courtyard.
Fair is fair, but the courtyard does not have any usable surfaces to work on. Luckily, the previous tenants had left a large rack of various materials and I was able to find enough stuff on it to scab this table together. Now I have a solid work surface, plenty of ventilation and my shop mates are happy.
Here is a progress shot of my latest piece, “Interminable”. I found this large spiral years ago while mining a local scrap yard for materials to build the set for an “industrially” themed theatrical performance. I think the spiral was some kind of large earth drill bit, something that one might find on an excavator. In any case, I had to anneal the hell out of it before I could do anything because it was harder than the blades I tried to use to cut it.
Now it sits in this little pod and spins slowly, tediously and endlessly. Come and see the completed piece in the new Lost & Foundry Gallery. It will be up for another couple of weeks.
I built this vice extension in preparation for a large camp knife that I will begin making soon. The knife will be mostly hand-made, including lots of filing, which requires a lot of close visual inspection. This is difficult to do while mounted in a vice that is too low.
My primary vices are mounted at waist height, which is good for general work but uncomfortable when something has to be closely and frequently inspected. The extension brings this small vice closer to my eyes making the work much easier.
I took this vice from my grandfather’s garage after he passed away. For my entire childhood it was mounted to the corner of his dirty, oil-soaked work bench. I had always thought the vice was brown, but once I began to refurbish it, I found its original color. I think its a lovely shade.
Cardboard templates for the Zeppelin Fins.
I swear I’m going to finish this project this week!
This is a cone die. It’s two lengths of 1.5″ solid round bar @ 24″ long. The bars rest on pieces of angle iron that are raised 2″ up from the base. The die allows me to hammer sheet metal down into the center space. The slanted configuration of the bars cause the sheet to roll upwards into a volumetric cone form.
I built this several years ago after attending a sheet metal forming workshop at Haystack.
The Lost & Foundry is the name of the space where my work shop is located. It gets its name from its previous function as an iron foundry. Over the years, the foundry had accumulated a wide collection of industrial parts, materials and debris left over from the various jobs done in the space. When the foundry shut down, much of this was left behind. Now it all sits in a small, outdoor space behind the shop.
The beauty of this for a scrounger like me is the likelihood of finding something that I need when I need it. It is also nice because as L&F residents search for things in the junk pile, we tend to uncover other hidden treasures.
Last week I found this kiln under a shredded tarp. It needs some love, but if it works, it will be perfect for a range of things that I haven’t been able to do since having access to a proper heat source like this.
Cutting parts for a new sculpture that will be at the upcoming Lost & Foundry open house:
305 Center st
Angle grinders are an essential work horse in any shop, but they are not without their dangers. This particular attachment failed at high speed, sending chunks of hard rubber all over the shop. That’s right kids. Wear proper protective clothing and equipment when you do dangerous work. I’m just going to sit down for a minute now.
Over the years that I have spent as a fabricator, I have picked up some odd working habits. For example, whenever I put my ear muffs on for loud work, I clap the muffs together 3 times. Why do I do this? I have no idea. Does the clapping action create a vacuum that clears the dust from the muffs? Maybe, but I have never really checked. Is it more akin to the superstitions that blacksmiths of the past believed in as they tried to appease the gods? I really don’t have an answer.
Another shop habit of mine came into acute focus this past week. Each time I use my gloves in the shop, I first twist them in a similar fashion to wringing out a towel. Again, this is goes back to the beginning of my career and remains rather inexplicable.
Nevertheless, this habit paid off in full. Just before grinding a few welds on the Zeppelin, I grabbed my gloves and gave them their ritualized squeeze. As I opened them to put my hand inside, this guy fell out. I am sorry that he had to die, but I am sure glad that I didn’t find him the hard way.
So are my habits somehow connected to a mysterious and innate understanding of the dangers of my environment, or are they just random and weird?