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How to Use the English Wheel to Create Metal Sculpture

The Voice: Hey, Kevin. What are you doing?

Kevin Caron: Well, this is called an English wheel. It's a tool I'm using to make this metal curve just the right way.

This is old technology, if you will. This technology dates back to about the 1920s, I believe.

And, if you remember your old antique cars, you remember the big, swooping hoods and the big curved fenders on them. Well, this is the kind of machine they used to use to make them before they had big, hydraulic presses to just stamp them out.

A lot of the hand-built cars like Bentleys were made with machines just like this. The craftsman would sit there and roll that piece of steel out and shape those fenders and hoods.

Likewise with a lot of the old airplanes; the engine cowlings and the flayed braces and the wing forms were all made on an English wheel, by hand, believe it or not.

Today I'm making a model, or a maquette. A maquette is just a little model of a larger piece of metal sculpture that you can show to the client to say, "See, this is what it'll look like. This is just miniature."

In doing so, I'm trying to prove to myself that a concept I have will actually work. So, before we go so far as to make a maquette, I thought I'd take some scrap and try to build it up out of scrap, just for me, so I can see: Is this a valid concept or not? That's what we're doing.

Right now I'm trying to simply curve this piece of metal and get it to curve this way and get it to curve that way at the same time.

So, I'm going to go back to the wheel and we'll see you all next week. Bye!

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