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How to Conceive and Fabricate Metal Parts



Based on a functional sculpture he created for himself called Bug Man l, Kevin is creating an art commission of a ladybug holding an umbrella with a bug zapper for a heart. A neighbor expressed interest in this type of sculpture, and Kevin came up with the idea of a similar functional sculpture for her in the form of a ladybug.

The bug itself is going to be 4 to 4-1/2 feet tall with curly antennae, and wings with about a 3-1/2 foot wingspan. It also has an umbrella that will be about 5-foot, 10-inches tall.

In this how-to video, Kevin focuses on the umbrella, which is basically a big cone. His first idea was to cut a big disk out of metal, then use the English wheel and air shaper to roll or hammer it out, but it didn't quite work out the way he had hoped. After a couple of tries, he went back to his proverbial drawing board and came up with the current design, a shallow, smooth cone with a single seam. He's also added a piece of 1/4" square metal stock to the edge of the steel umbrella, or parasol, so that no one can cut themselves on the sharp edge, especially because the umbrella will be about head height.

Then he shares the trick he used to arrive at this approach. Kevin used something he often employs when designing: a plain piece of paper. You can cut it, fold it, and then when you screw up, you can crumple it up and throw it in the recycling. So Kevin cut a disk out of the paper, then, using something he learned in school, cut a pie-shaped wedge from the disk. Next he pulled the two cut edges together and created a cone with just a single seam. He used 20 gauge steel, so the metal is light and easy to manipulate, although you can't get carried away with the grinder. He created the seam by overlapping the metal enough so the tip came together.

Then he tacked it at the top, tacked it at the bottom, and used his cut-off tool to cut off the excess, tacking as he went, keeping a nice butt joint on the seam so he didn't have to deal with a lip. He worked slow and cold, without a lot of amperage. He worked the seam on the English wheel a bit to get the warp out of it from welding the edge on it and smooth it out.

Kevin thanks his math teachers for the idea, and then goes back to work.

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