Thursday, 31 December 2009

A smashing blog for the end of the year

On a recent visit to the Workshopshed my nephew Duncan pointed at one of my hammers and asked what it was for. So I though I'd put together a quick article on different types of hammers. The hammer in question was cross pein hammer. These are used for shaping metal and can also be used domestically for hammering in panel pins.

Cross Pien Hammer

It's sister hammer is the ball pein, which is also used for forming metal. It's origional purpose was for peining (or peening in the US) which is hammering the metal to stretch it and relieve stress or to work harden the surface. It's often used for flattening metal following welding or brazing. Peining can also be used for sharpening scythes.

Ball Pien Hammer

The kind of hammer you will most commonly see around the house it the claw hammer, it's used for both hammering in nails and removing them with the levering effect of the claw.

Claw Hammer

Mallets are not used for hammering in nails, instead it's used for assembling items such as furniture. They are also used with a chizel to cut wood or sometimes stone.


Hammers come in all shapes and sizes, large hammers such as a lump hammer or the bigger sledge hammer are used for demolishing buildings.

One of the smallest hammers is a machinist's hammer which is in fact a small metal mallet used for tapping pieces of metal into the correct place for machining. The machinist's hammer is a favourite project for learning how to turn items on the lathe as the design requires many operations such as taper turning and cross drilling.

Jewellers use special soft hammers made from materials such as copper, rubber or rawhide which can be used for shaping metals without scratching the surface. They need to be careful with their rawhide hammers as dogs like to chew on them.

More information on hammers

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Destructo Iron Works

I've been following twitter for some months now and have met some interesting metal workers and welders on there. One of them Chris from Destructo Iron Works has spared the time for an interview.

Workshopshed: Hi Chris, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Chris Edwards: Hey I'm Chris Edwards owner/ artist @ I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada known amongst friends as lost wages NV. By day I am a structural ironworker out of Los Angeles Local 433. My day job has given me the skills to do my own work but at the end of the day they are just skills. I love being creative and making my art. I've been trying for the last 6 years to get my business off the ground and its been really hard. I think I'm in a nitch market that can be good or bad, good because I have never seen anyone do the type of stuff I do. I am still trying to translate this into a full time thing that can help me support my family.

Destructo Iron Works TIG Welding

Workshopshed: What kinds of materials do you use in your projects?

Chris Edwards: It all depends on the project and what the customer wants of course. I have worked with steel, stainless steel, aluminum and copper/brass. I also like incorporating glass, granite and LED lighting into my projects.

2 foot aluminium clock Custom Colour Changing Table

Workshopshed: You have some quite high tech equipment such as a CNC plasma cutter, do you prefer working with the high tech or with the manual tools?

Chris Edwards: The high tech tools allow me to do things that I simply can't do by hand. But it's still fabrication, I still have a lot of manual cutting, grinding and welding etc. I come at my business as an artist. I don't have a slip roller or any big equipment, instead I bend stuff around my oxygen bottles use my vise and a lot of other creatively useful manual hand tools. If you look at the grinding details in most of my work, that is all done by hand. A lot of companies fabricate but I take my knowledge as a fabricator, professional installer and artist and try to market my self as a all in one creative solution. I feel what I really offer is concept & design and final delivery of functional pieces of art that are as unique as each client is.

Workshopshed: I like the robot logo, is there some significance to that? Have you built any robots?

Chris Edwards: No , I just love robots and when I was a kid I used to always try to figure things out. This meant taking things apart and "Trying" to put them back together. From this I was dubbed Destructo because I would destroy stuff as a kid, I guess it just stuck. When I think of the 50's robots I think of Cool metal machines that are blocky and colorful, kind of like me.

Workshopshed: Your work is very varied, where do your ideas come from and how do you develop them into something that can be made?

Chris Edwards: Inspiration I guess comes in all different forms. I'm kind of into Americana art, graffiti, classic tattoos, modern architectural design. I think the one gift that I do have as an artist is I can physically replicate what I see in my head. I like making things that I have never seen or get ideas from previous failures but there really are no failures I just incorporated them into the wrong design or project at the time. These bumps in the road are what has helped me refine my work and has helped me develop my own art processes. I just updated my website, if you notice under the services bar theres a link for case studies. I haven't had a chance to update this but I will be shortly, this is to show how I go from concept & design into fabrication and finish product. There is a lot of planning in the design for most of my stuff, a lot of dimensions to start as a base. I'll get a couple of ideas from the customer, then I will make a mock up of my idea that incorporates their ideas or design and get feed back and tweak the project as necessary. You would be amazed how many people want custom furniture, gates, vehicle accessories and they dont know what they want. I try to come up with a game plan before I build because it can get really expensive really quick if you don't have the design and material nailed down.

Tiki MaskMetal Mask

Workshopshed: Given that you are in Vegas are all your customers Magicians and stage shows?

Chris Edwards: Thats funny, I've pretty much have lived in Las Vegas for all of my 32 years, Professionally as a day job as a Union Ironworker I have done work for multiple Cirque shows and a lot of finish work in the hotels and casinos. I'm trying to break loose and do my own thing, so as of now I have not done work for a magician or show for my business, Yet!

Workshopshed: What can you tell me about the "Annual First Friday competition"?

Chris Edwards: They actually do not do the specific competition which was the "Radiate" art contest any more. Pretty much the basis of the show was radiator art. Artists could stop by pick up a car radiator and had to do their thing with it, for what It was I kind of went overboard and spent $400 bucks and about 35 hours into the slot machine. So the first year I got beat by sponge bob, It was voted on by the general public and lost by 1 vote. I mean he shot bubbles out of his mouth and kids loved it. I'm used to disappointments so far, so it really doesn't bother me any more, I'm going to keep going until I make it. I put so much into my work. I just know that if the right people see my work that could lead to real opportunity for me and my family and I believe in that because I am a hard worker. Anyways the next year not wanting to make something completely new I call the Curator of the gallery and asked If I could submit the same piece with changes as I had wanted to do some gold vinyl on the slot machine to kind of replicate the old school red and gold filigree slot machines back in the day. So I added another 20 hrs to it to do the vinyl and turned out pretty good. At last victory was mine, its funny because the grand prize was $500 bucks and I turned around and bought a $400 Graff painting and took all the boys out for a Mexican restaurant breakfast. Thats what its all about for any artist of any medium I love creating and collecting.

Workshopshed: Thanks Chris for taking time out to talk to us and telling us about your facinating work and projects.

Chris Edwards: I would like to say thanks to my wife who has supported me all this time. To all my friends who are sick of hearing " what do you think, do you like this, is it cool". I would also like to thank other artists in general my fire for what I do is fueled by other creative people. I would like to thank the few people who follow my work and would also like to especially thank Andy from Workshopshed for this interview.

Custom Steel Media CentreCustom Steel Media Centre

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

TIG Welding

TIG Welding (Tungsten Inert Gas) or GTAW (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) uses an electric current to generate an arc between the work and a tungsten electrode. A gas is used to shield the joint from oxidisation. Typically this is the inert gas argon but it may also have additives to increase the temperature of change the shape of the weld. The operator can then optionally add metal with a filler rod. TIG requires more skill than other types of welding as the gas between electrode and work needs to be kept constant and there are more controls to setup. These additional controls allow you to weld a wide variety of sizes and types of metal such as thin sheet or aluminium.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Model Engineering Fair Pictures

Just returned from Sandown and here are pictures of the amazing models from the Model Engineering Fair. There was some excellent quality of work with my favourites being "My Little Lathe" and Cherry Hill's impressive agricultural engine. There was also a good range of stalls selling tools, metal, models and components.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Collet Chuck

Previously when milling in the lathe I've just put the milling cutter in the jaws of the 3 jaw chuck. This is not idea as it may slip and could damage the chuck jaws if it does so. A better solution would be a collet chuck which are designed to hold round items more securely as they are effectively a close fitting multijaw chuck.

Milling in the lathe

My little Saupe MD200 (Prazimat) lathe has a M14 x 1.0mm spindle with no taper and also has 3 M5 bolts arranged in a circle. Luckily that spindle size is the same as the Sieg C0 lathe, EMCOs Unimat 3, and Cowells 90ME lathes so there are plenty of components availble for it.

Collet chucks come in different series which determine the shape of the collets needed and the range of sizes of material that the collet can take. The ER16 (also known as ESX16) range can take 1mm to 10 mm in increments of 1mm which is ideal for this size of lathe.

ER16 Collet Chuck

I'll be looking at this weekends model engineer exhibition to see if I can pickup a cheap ER16 collet chuck, £22.95 is the price to beat. The collets are sold individually or in sets of 10 for around £70. I'll probably just get a couple with suitable sizes to match my end mills. I've seen individual ones for around a £5 each so it should not be too costly.

Grinding and tapping aluminium

The latest progress on the flea was to add the eyes. I cast some large eyes from aluminium a few weeks back. The backs of these were a bit uneven so clamped them up in the workmate and ground them down using a flap wheel like the one below.

This produced no sparks, little dust (it must have gone somewhere though) and a very smooth surface finish. It was not until I tried to remove the eyes from the workmate that I also realised it had generated a large amount of heat. So much that I had to swap my leather gloves with some thicker welding gloves to be able to pick them up. The heat had also started to char the wood of the workmate. I also tried a standard cutoff disk with a piece of scrap and that also cut very well. So as a technique it's good, I just need to reduce the duration of grinding to avoid overheating.

I managed to thread the rods on the frame and with a bit of effort managed to tap the aluminium sufficiently so I could attach the eyes. The problem I was finding was that the AL was ripping rather than tapping. I believe this is due to my pilot hole being too small with regards to the size of the tap. I also did not have a taper tap to start the hole wich would have made things easier.

A nice piece of slate was bought from the local DIY shop to mount the flea and John Honniball @anachrocomputer has been giving me some tips on drilling it.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Rope Knurling

This week is my last welding class,so following that I can get back to my project of making a knurling tool. Here's a piece to inspire all those making knurling tools, a lovely rope knurl from Jon Bower. This is formed by a curved knurling wheel.

And another example from Remark.

Workshop Practice Series