Fabrication 101

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by xcflyn, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. redprimo

    redprimo Been here awhile

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    I was going to wait until I finished this project before posting it here but I thought you could use a bit of support in keeping this thread going. The metal fabrication work I do is a bit different but it’s still making things out of metal so I guess it can go into this thread.
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    For the past 10 or so years I have been working with wood but prior to that I did a lot of mixed media sculpture and that included metal fabrication. Last spring I made a chair out of welded steel, wood, and stone, and my ideas have been leaning in that direction lately. I now have two upcoming commissions for welded steel, wood, and stone pieces. That prompted me to buy an old tig welder a couple of months ago and I am now working out the final touches on several related designs as a joint project with a friend of mine. We both are comfortable fabricating with metal as well as working with wood and we both mill our own lumber with chainsaws.
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    For the first few designs I will be using the same leg for several variations of a tables as well as a bar stool and a chair. The leg starts with a length of thin wall 1½&#8221; square tubing that I slit about 8&#8221; up on opposing sides. I then clamp the tubing to a wood fixture that has the shape I want to bend into the one edge of the tubing.
    [​IMG]

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    For the proto type I used a wood wedge on the inside of the tubing to force it into my bending fixture.
    [​IMG]

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    I then cut out some pie shaped filler strips and tack welded them inplace with the wood wedge still inside. This proved to be a bit problematic because just as I got a puddle of metal the wood would flash off and the gases caused the tungsten electrode to ball up. Since this was more or less just a proof of concept to see if my bending fixture would give me a nice smooth bend I suffered through regrinding the tungsten for each tack weld. I then pulled the wood out and finished welding and since things looked so ugly I promptly found the welds down without any photographic evidence.
    [​IMG]

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    I liked the results so I popped over to my local scrap yard and picked up some aluminum so I could replace my wood wedge with one made from aluminum. I don&#8217;t have a cnc or any mill for that matter so I used my band saw with a 3 tooth per inch wood blade to cut within 1/32&#8221; of my scribe line and then sanded to the line on my disc sander and oscillating spindle sander. I ripped a shallow groove to accommodate the seam on the inside of the tubing on my table saw and ended up with a fixture accurate to .010&#8221; which for this job is just fine.
    [​IMG]

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    I then drilled a ½&#8221; hole through the lower part of the leg and dropped in these little sections of round rod that I made on my little atlas metal lathe. They are drilled and taped to accept a swivel footed glide so the metal legs don&#8217;t scratch up a potential customer&#8217;s nice wood floor. These were also welded and the welds ground flush.
    [​IMG]

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    Once the legs were all done I had to make a fixture to hold things in place while tacking everything together. The legs are angled 6 degrees in a radial configuration.
    [​IMG]
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    The seat is a piece of 2&#8221; thick claro walnut and will have a pommel carved into it for comfort. The steel will get a black acid finish. I will be traveling up to the bay area to do a photo shoot for this next Wednesday and will post some of the pics.
    [​IMG]
  2. xcflyn

    xcflyn Long timer

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    Thats not just fabrication 101 - thats fabrication and art rolled into one ! Awesome work.

    I will continue. next week :huh . My current week was filled with a job that had a NDA so I could not use a camera on it, plus it was a bit lame and not of real interest.
    It is good to see there is interest and as one person mentioned - I should have looked at the views more then just the contributing posts. As most people can imagine it is hard to build a thread about what you do without looking like you are trying to toot your own horn, and that was not my intention - but I do admit I try not to show too many of my multipal flaws :D. You never master fabrication - you master the art of learning from others,adapting, and learning from your own mistakes. I hated working in big shops but really miss the ability to learn from others around you. Now as a one man show I find myself on the internet trying trying to gain knowledge and hopefully this thread will be a tool for all of us who read it.
  3. kirkster70

    kirkster70 moto junkie

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    Beautiful work on the chair! Artwork, indeed!


    And Dan, I totally understand about the "tooting your own horn" comment.


    I totally weirded out last year and deleted most of my thread because I also felt like I was coming off as bragging, when in fact I'm just excited to be making things and just needed to tell someone. :D

    We can all learn and be encouraged by each other. I love checking in here to see what everyone else is up to.

    Everyone keep up the good work! :clap
  4. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    I totally dig this thread. I don't want to post my stuff because it's already in my build thread and most of it's not very exciting. If I do do something cool I'll post it
  5. xcflyn

    xcflyn Long timer

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    Not too exciting but its Saturday and I kinda screwed off half the day.
    example 1.
    [​IMG]

    example 2
    [​IMG]
    I didnt like it so -
    [​IMG]
    A little different then the other- tabbed in better. not sure what I will do with the first one but the second is a little personal project.
    side by side
    [​IMG]

    I did a little real work- had a bracket to make for a customer - I took his flimsy walmart looking thing , hammered it flat then scanned the image-
    [​IMG]
    Then I load the image (a rastor - or so they call it) into a program I use that turns it into arcs and lines (a vector they call that), then I fix the vector to size it and locate it for the coding, turn it into a "DXF" file then swap it to another program and code it. and next thing you know - with a little high pressure water cutting and couple hits in the brake you have a heavy duty version
    [​IMG]
  6. TooTallRacing

    TooTallRacing Been here awhile

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    There is a lot of talent on this site and especially in this thread. Some of us (me) can't nail two pieces of wood together let alone make some of the artfully designed and constructed projects. This thread serves as inspiration for me and I'm sure for others as well.
    Please don't let this thread die.
  7. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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    That's really cool I had no idea you could do that to make a DXF. I'm about 2 weeks away from getting my grubby little hands on a waterjet machine and can't wait to start making parts. I REALLY need to take a CAM class as I can draw most of what I want in CAD but outputting G Code and tabbing, ramps etc are all foreign subjects to me. I did sit down at one of the computers at Tech Shop and play around with AutoCAD Inventor. Wow is all I have to say. Much more powerful than the Rhino 3D I was using. It def takes some getting used to but I think I should be able to get fairly proficient.

    Dan what's that program called? Do most high end CAD programs do that function?

    Oh and if any of you are in striking distance to a Tech Shop you really owe it to yourself to take a tour and see what's going on there. I started teaching at the one in Pittsburgh and it's amazing the creativity flowing around those places. And they have some seriously bitching tools so you don't need to buy your own. My current job is so uncreative that I needed a hands on at the end of my work day to get the juices flowing. I've found by helping others it helps me be a better fabricator.
  8. Dyno

    Dyno Conquistador

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    Whoa! Awesome! Thanks for the link!
  9. xcflyn

    xcflyn Long timer

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    Well I am not very up to speed on what all is out there these days for programs. I run "cutting shop 4.5" for my rastor to vector, then "AS3000" Camsoft to code. I will tell you this, there are free programs out there to vectorize images but a water jet is very expensive to run and when you get double lines (that you can not see) the machine will back up and recut when you dont want it to or when you go to code it will be filled with gaps and wont code right, so it can be worth dropping some money on good software. Many times I rastor (trace) a image then just save it as a DXF - run it into cad then add my scaling,tabing, and lead ins.From there it goes to the AS3000 for code. Coding is simple and complicated all at the same time. The nice part is there are only 3 axis, and for me I only need to do X,Y . Cutting shop is great - but when you call for tech support they treat you like a 3rd grader which sucks. Bob cad offers a rastor to vector and theres is good, but the sales guy I dealt with blew it when he started to tell me I was "like everyone else who procrastinates and throws money away" then told me to shut my machines off to talk to him. I do like bobcad , it looked pretty good, tool friendly like cad - cutting shop is not at all like cad , you get to re-learn symbols and tools and clicking, but cutting shop really does work well for the price and the manual makes it so you do not need much tech support at all.
    I am the first to admit I am NOT an expert by any stretch of the imagination on all this, actually the opposite, I now just enough about what I have and still learn things every time I read about or play with it.
  10. OaklandStrom

    OaklandStrom Long timer

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    The water jet software has two parts, FlowPath and FlowCut. FlowPath is the CAM software, and all you need to bring to the table is some vector files. There no need to learn gcode for the water jet. Your vectors can be from something as simple as CorelDraw or a DXF. You can also choose a face (any flat surface) in Inventor and export a DXF of it,

    When you start working in 3D, you'll want to learn inventorCAM, which is a CAM plugin for Inventor.

    To ease into that world slowly, you can take the Vcarve Pro & Cut 3d class at TechShop. They are limited, but easier to learn at first.



  11. xcflyn

    xcflyn Long timer

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    I seem to have problems when I get corel drawings from a local cutomer ? I always need to go over and fix lines and gaps. I am sure it is him but the one thing I found it that no matter who draws it, if its not you , theres a 50/50 it wont code good- do you find this also ? As mentioned I am not a expert on this. For my older machine I find having some G/M-code knowledge is helpful. Only because I have to go into the code to fine tune the speed and if I want to work on having it pierce at different rates - as in just a second or two to mark a hole that has to be tapped or reamed, then back to say a standard pierce time to cut. I have a feeling I wont like your answer to this because it will make me want better software :evil.
  12. xcflyn

    xcflyn Long timer

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    Other then fun putting door pins and bushings in the GF's vehicle I did mess around with my own project. I think this tells more of the whole picture.
    This is a temporary base plate for this project. I figured I would burn up some rusty 20ga instead of wasting good aluminum at this point.
    [​IMG]
    Made a little progress but new ideas are forming faster then the material. And I am not so sure I like any of it at this point. But I do have fun playing [​IMG]
  13. OaklandStrom

    OaklandStrom Long timer

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    I should have been more clear about the waterjet.

    Sailah doesn't need to learn any more than FlowPath & FlowCut for the waterjet at TechShop. When learning to use the jet at TechShop, they teach FlowPath & FlowCut only. It's not he best interface, but the software works well enough.

    How do I avoid bad vectors? I only do work for myself, or a friend I'm willing to spend time with. :deal

  14. Laconic

    Laconic Anodyne

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    Another vote to keep it going.
  15. xcflyn

    xcflyn Long timer

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    Excitment of the day. New 1-2-3 blocks - I need to get a life :huh
    [​IMG]

    Seeing how my paying work came to a screeching halt when the guy called and said " dont make any more of " -- But I have the material sawing and in the mill " just stop and I will let yo know if I need them" .
    no problem-o : , my time isnt worth nothing anyhow :D, is what it is, not worth jumping up and down about.Think I will screw off until he calls----SO-
    [​IMG]
    I think I see a need for a compartment under this rack ?
    [​IMG]
    Back to the drawing board - I am not 100% happy with this. I am usually only picky on other peoples stuff then short change myself - think it has to do with the fact I never bill myself and there for never make any money on my personal projects.
    [​IMG]

    And no he never called back ?
  16. Laconic

    Laconic Anodyne

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    Seeing those racks makes me think, the world could use a professionally made dashboard like the one I made for my Vee-Strom...
  17. xcflyn

    xcflyn Long timer

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    Been pretty boring at the shop so not too much to post. Been more drilling and taping holes and a little bracket work and thats about it. My ambition has been pretty low to boot. Same old thing, buy a bunch of material, bust my ass for a few weeks then wait 2,3, or 4 months to get paid, during which time I would like to be able to eat, pay my own bills, and maybe afford to buy a fishing license (which I guess could help lower the cost to eat :D).
    A very crafty inmate sent me a file for some tiny little pieces to cut, so not only did I cut him some pieces, I also cut him a great deal :thumb I hope he likes them !
    [​IMG]
    I set them up in groups of 4 and had to tab them to the piece.
    The dotted line is the cut path, looks congested because this material is only .030 thick and these parts are tiny, so all little holes and center cuts first.
    [​IMG]
    Reference- that is a half sheet of paper towel they are on
    [​IMG]
    pics a little fuzzy, but they are pretty detailed little pieces, hopefully he will chime in with a picture of the end use - its pretty cool and I think he will share ?
    [​IMG]
  18. The Roadie

    The Roadie Adventurer

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    These parts look great! I love them! My bf was kind enough to figure this out for me. I am shocked by how perfect they turned out. You are truly stellar at what you do. Thanks for everything, your timeliness was incredible. I can't wait to see them in person! :D
  19. redprimo

    redprimo Been here awhile

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    Last week I posted some pics of the fabrication process of a barstool and promised a pic of the finished product, well her it is.

    [​IMG]

    The finish is an acid similar to gun bluing and the wood has an oil finish followed by a tough poly blend that wears real well. I'm also thinking about trying clear satin powder coat over the top of the acid finish to make it less prone to scratching.

    Making it is the easy part. Now for the hard part, marketing and sales.
  20. xcflyn

    xcflyn Long timer

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    Redprimo - that is awesome work ! I would think selling is easy - getting what it is worth is the hard part. Hopefully you will someone who can appreciate what it takes to make something like that.