Yes, here it is again, yet another posting outlining the long drawn out metal art project. By this time I have completed all 9 of the custom rays and so it’s onto the remaining 3 “god” rays. I realize it has been awhile since I initially laid out my original plan so as a recap; the metal structure is comprised of a total of 12 rays. 9 of which are built from 20 gauge mild steel and are all unique and custom. The three remaining rays are all to be built the same as one another and will be constructed from 304 stainless steel 18 gauge sheets.
In my initial mock up I used mild steel rays to simulate my future stainless rays just to help me lay things out. The time has come to trade in the mild steel for the stainless. So off to the metal shop I went with my 3 steel templates in hand to see what I could make happen. I typically resist farming out any parts of my projects. I would rather spend more time, effort, and sometimes money, to ensure that I can do everything in house. In the case of the stainless I had planned to have them shear my triangles for me. Why? For 2 reasons. First one being that the 304 stainless sheets comes with a plastic protector applied to them. Using a plasma cutter to trim my sheets does not work with the plastic protection in place and since I needed to ensure the stainless stays protected throughout the build I wanted to keep the plastic on for as long as possible. The second reason is that since all sides of the stainless rays will be visible I wanted to make sure I would get a factory looking edge on my trimmed sides. The best way to get this edge is with a shear. Well the metal supplier was more then happy to cut my sheets up free of charge, and they should, since I paid a premium for the material.
My initial plan was to leave the stainless rays plain with no design or visual accents. This would have been the quick and easy way to go however it is also kinda boring. So while I was at the metal shop I picked up 60 feet of 304 stainless ½” x 1/8” flat bar. My plan was to put my recently constructed scroll bender to work. Now if you recall I built a scroll bender a few weeks back and after initial testing of the tool it was determined that the dies were not perfectly round and required some touch up. So I fired up the Silver Beauty and started laying down some molten on all the flat spots. After working the welds down with an angle grinder and belt sander I was able to achieve a much more uniform bend. I was able to rework the entry slot of the center die which helped out with nice smooth starts. I would say the dies are as close to perfect as they will get without the aid of computer controlled equipment.
So now that I have the steel and the scroll bender I required a design. I began sketching some flowing lines onto the plastic protective film of the stainless rays. After coming up with a basic pattern I started to form the metal using both the scroll bender and the ring roller.
Once I had all the basic shapes bent I TIG welded the bends together to form a single unit. The rays are getting bolted though the face onto the steel backing structure so I decided to double up the use of the bolt holes by using them to mount the scrolls. Using an old sheet of ¾” MDF I built a jig for the bolt hole placement and welded securing tabs onto the scrolls in the precise location needed.
I was able to work my way through the 3 rays. All of the scroll work, from the 3 rays, are all slightly different however the design is uniform. I was fairly pleased with the end result and look forward to seeing how the stainless rays look when combined with the rest of the structure. Next job is to figure out a center piece.