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How to Create a Sculpture, Part 3



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

Kevin Caron: Today we're doing Part 3 in a beginning-to-end YouTube video series on creating a metal sculpture.

In our last how-to video, I showed you the big triangles that I was making here in the studio. I had to lay all those out on sheets of eighth-inch steel plate. I just cut them out with the Longevity plasma cutter - just a little oversized.

Now I've got a whole stack of them to clean up and get in the shape that I want. How do I do that? Well, I can do it freehand, but I shake a little, which means more clean-up to take care of and that takes more time. So, I wondered how I might mechanize it, make it repeatable?

I've been meaning to build myself a plasma cutting table, so I'll go get that sheet, or grille, and make a hinged frame on the end of my workbench. Recently I put in a couple of supports off of the workbench, so all I have to do is pick up the table, put the supports up in there, and the table's nice and solid.

I can put a whole 4-by-8 sheet on the workbench and slide it out onto the cutting table so I can make my cuts. But we're not working with the 4-by-8s; we're working with 2-by-2. I know I want my triangle to be 120 degrees from point to point going off of the center of the triangle, and I need it to be repeatable. How am I going to do that?

I'll take a piece of scrap and mark an X in the center. Next, I'll take it over to the middle, clamp it to the turntable (because I've got a degree wheel on the turntable) so I can index it to the center of the mill and then come out as far as I want it to be. Iíll drill one hole, crank it through 120 degrees; drill the next hole, another 120 degrees; drill the next hole. Now this is tight and it's repeatable.

Now all I need to do is bring it over here, weld it to my table; get my length right from the center to my pivot so I can get the radius that I want on my curve; this piece of contemporary art sculpture has a curved edge, not just a straight edge. Then - and this is the hard part - two center punches right in the hole. This is locked down, sort of. I put my hand on top when I'm cutting them to keep this in place.

I knew from my CAD drawing when I made the triangle that it was, 52 and a half inches from the center point of my circle to the edge of my curve. So, all I needed to do was measure that out, center my plate; get my plate so it was the right dimension from the pivot, then just make a little arm, a little sweeper so I can repeat the motion every single time; it comes out the same.

The bushing on the plasma cutter fits into here. Now I can just sit here and repeat this: make a cut, pull the pin, rotate it 120 degrees, put the pin back in, make another cut, repeat one more, move that one off, put a new one on, do it again and again. Oh, my God! I'm a machine!

So, that's what I'm doing. I've got 60 of them to do, total. It's gotten easy by now - I'm about a third of the way through. Let me fire it up and I'll show you how it works. Then I'll get back to work.

I've got the machine fired up. We're ready to go. Let's make some sparks. (cutting) There's one. Now all I need to do is just pull the pin; make another; make another; move it out; get another.

I've got a lot more to go. We'll catch up with you on the next step of this piece of public art.

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