I want one that includes the Greek letters spelling the word 'ichthus' (Greek for 'fish')* inside the body of the fish outline. I had one of these on my car, but I sold that car and now drive a different car. Once these emblems were very easy to find in stores, but they have disappeared. They are not to be found on the Internet, nor in catalogs. I will make my own. What I present here could serve for someone who needs this emblem or another of his own choosing. Some Instructables members who regularly make jewelry may have better tools and processes than those I am using.
*In a later step I will explain the meaning, history, and use of the 'ichthus' (fish) symbol in earlier centuries.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- Sheet aluminum about 14 gauge
- Double stick foam Scotch Mounting Squares
- White paper (one sheet)
- Aerosol clear coat in a can
- Coping saw
- Draftsman's compass with inking pen and fountain pen ink (or India ink)
- Marker pen
- Drill and bit
- Exacto knife
- Pocket knife
- Various files
- Vise with soft jaws
I chose to make my fish emblem from sheet aluminum because its color will not change much with age and weathering. The other significant material is some Scotch Mounting Squares or Tape. It will be used to attach the emblem to the car.
The tools are a drill to make openings for cutting internal parts with a coping saw and a file. A draftsman's compass will be used in the pattern layout. An Exacto knife will be used to trim away non-essentials from the pattern so it can be transferred to the aluminum. A pocket knife is useful for trimming away excess material on the aluminum. Some sandpaper or emery cloth is good for smoothing edges in tight places.
The aluminum measures 0.062 inch thick, or about 14 gauge. It is from the front shroud on a household furnace. I found it at a local scrapyard. Another option would have been to make the emblem from steel rod bent and welded together. Then I could have applied braze material to provide finish like brass. But, an emblem made of steel would also be heavier and more difficult to keep on the car without falling off.
The blade on the coping saw is a very ordinary blade. A quick test showed it will cut my aluminum very well. I will hold the aluminum in a vise while working.
Step 2: Pattern Layout
I made a straight line down the center of a piece of paper. Then I scribed an arc at a radius of 3 1/4 inches. I scribed another from the other side. Then I used the same centers for the arcs, but set the radius to 3 inches. The height of the fish's body from top to bottom is 2 1/6 inches. That eventually yielded a fish symbol 5 7/16 inches long. To my eye, this looks about right.
Step 3: Inking the Pattern
I held a straightedge across the paper at the top and bottom of the fish body. I determined the ends of the fish's tail would be where the straightedge intersected with the arc lines.
Now people would probably use a CAD program to do all of this. I feel more confident with my drawing instruments.
Step 4: The Letters
If you want to look at the letters from a printed chart of the Greek alphabet, the letters in order are: iota, chi, theta, upsilon, and (final) sigma.* As shown, they are the lower case version. If you chose to make the letters upper case, click on the second photo to see both the lower case and the upper case version. The letters in the second photo were made in OpenOffice.org Writer using BST Greek fonts downloaded free to make a corresponding on-line Bible program display properly. The final sigma at the end of the lower case version came from the Character Map inside Windows Accessories.
I drew these letters freehand in pencil and then went over them with a black gel pen. I would have used a fountain pen, but there is less probability of smears with a gel pen. Some smoothing can take place by finishing the lines with a file after the pattern has been transferred to the aluminum.
I have included my pattern in PDF for anyone who wishes to use it, perhaps with a computer driven plasma cutter.
The Greek word 'ichthus' means "fish." Even today, someone who studies fish is an ichthyologist. (Early Christians adopted it as an acronym for "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior" (iesus xristos theou [h]weos soter). Allegedly, when a Christian met someone on the street and wanted to give a recognition symbol or begin a conversation and be assured the other person was not someone who would turn him in for persecution by authorities, he would make an arc in the dust with his foot. If the other person was a Christian, too, he would make a second arc to form a fish.
*The letter sigma has one form if used at the beginning or inside a word and another form if used at the end of a word. Greek fonts in a typical word processor provide the internal sigma, but not the final sigma. The Windows Character Map usually includes the final sigma. Also, some font schemes represent the sigma, both final and internal, with the letter "C".
Step 5: Cut the Pattern Out
Step 6: Copy the Pattern to the Aluminum
Step 7: Cut the Sheet Aluminum
15 teeth per inch on my blade made it difficult to control the saw cuts properly, and I made a couple of unwanted nicks in my emblem. They are more disappointing than damaging, but I may fill them with an aluminum solder from Bernz that I got a few years ago at Home Depot. I have also learned my coping saw cuts aluminum quite well with more control when I drag the blade contrary to the set of the sawteeth, rather than pushing the sawteeth into the work. Had I realized that earlier, I would not have made the nicks.
When I get to a corner where I need to turn the blade, I drill a hole so I can make the turn easily.
(I have had this coping saw since I was a small boy. I lost the outer blade retainer and made a replacement from a 5/16 inch hex head bolt about 1/2 or 3/4 inch long.)
I am trying to stay a bit wide of the line, but it is very easy to cross the cut line with a poorly executed stroke of the saw. I plan on filing to finish.
Step 8: Drill Holes and Begin Removing Material
As I cut out areas to be removed, I find I sometimes need to trim away a little more material. I pare at the aluminum with a small blade on a pocket knife. That is usually effective.
Step 9: Prepare to Attach the Adhesive Foam
Select a place on the car where the emblem will be mounted. Hold the emblem on the car as it will be when mounted. By hand gently bend the emblem to fit the contours of the car's body. I looked for a place that is as flat as possible.
I pulled the protective covers from one side of three mounting squares and attached them to the back side of the emblem.
Step 10: Trim the Foam
Step 11: Mount
Perhaps the reason the 'ichthus' fish symbol disappeared from the market is that fewer people know what it is and what it means. But, if that is the case, it can be useful, too. At sometime someone will surely ask what it is and what it means. That is a ready opportunity to explain what it means and why Christians use it.