Tips and Tricks to Make a Smooth Curve
The Voice: Hey, Kevin. What are you doing?
Kevin Caron: I'm here in the studio playing with angles.
I'm working on a new public art sculpture. Right now I'm working on the layout. The sculpture will have a lot of small, gentle curves to it. I don't know if I've invented it or not, but I've come up with a great way to make these little curves when you work all by yourself. Come over here and I'll show you.
When you find yourself with a nice, long sheet of metal to cut, needing to make a nice line on it somehow, but don't have anybody down on the other end to hold your straight edge; here?s how I do it: vice grips, a great little clamp that I picked up at the welding store the other day.
I've already marked the sheet where I want my line to start, so I merely place the clamp right at the edge of my line. Make sure you leave enough room for the thickness of the material that you're going to put up against the clamp. I'm using a piece of quarter-inch stainless steel rod, lining it up right at the edge. Get right on the mark, all the way to the edge of your other mark, then you can come back in with your chalk.
This chalk is for stainless steel. It's a red chalk instead of a white chalk, so it'll show up on the bright, shiny aluminum better than the white would. I got it at a welding store, the same place I got the clamp. It was hanging behind the counter with all the other chalks.
The only reason I don't like this particular chalk is because it's so thin. If you get any sideways load to it, or if you don't hold it perfectly straight up and down - it snaps. It's really brittle, but it sure shows up great on the shiny metal.
Then all you have to do is get a little curve started. Get the kind of curve you want in there. Now, make sure you stick your tongue out of the right side of your mouth when you're doing it, so it's on the correct side of the line.
Now that I've got a nice line going here, with the chalk so I can see it, I can get my saw and cut it just on the outside of the line. Making sure I?m on the outside of the line, I make my cut.
Then I'll have a pattern that I can take to the other side of the metal. I?ll lay it out in the right spot (don't forget to add for the curve that you took off with the saw), then make a line over there. That way they both match on either side.
With the piece I cut off as a pattern, I lay it on the other side so I can get my curve the same way, so they both match. When I add them up to the other sheets, there will be five of these sheets altogether.
Now my line is going to be curved but straight. They'll all be the same size, giving this part of the sculpture a nice, smooth flow to it. Then after I get these five cut, I?ll bring in five more sheets, all of which will have the same curve, and use those pieces to make the back of the sculpture.
Then I'll use the big sheet as the pattern for tracing them; then cutting them on the correct side of the curve - got to remember about that. Then I can start welding things together.
Let me get back to metal cutting. I'll see you next time.
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