Picture of Giant Steel Skeleton Hand (and coat rack)
Bulid your own giant steel anatomic skeleton hand out of junky nuts and bolts! It makes a nice coat & towel rack too.

This is a perfect first welding project because you can make lots of mistakes and it will still come out fine.

Step 1: Find some scrap nuts and bults

Picture of Find some scrap nuts and bults
This project was inspired by finding a couple buckets of large nuts and bolts at a junk yard, and then deciding that i wanted to learn to weld. This project is great for your first welding project because if the welds are a mess it won't ruin the piece. There is not much measuring to do and if you make mistakes they are easy to fix or else they don't matter. You have a lot of flexibility on your choice of parts and you can easily build the hand at whatever size you want.

note: do not use galvanized nuts and bolts because they give off poisonous fumes when you weld them.

all the parts you need are shown below:
ebend123 years ago
As a experience welder myself I would suggest you get a nice thick slab of steel to weld on and various steel bars, especially if you plan to move up to a welding process that takes both hands (i.e. oxy-acetylene or TIG). Ground to the slab and use the heavy bars to hold your pieces in place. Yes I know htat there are situations where this is very inconvenient but knowing what to use when is how to do anything properly
chicopluma3 years ago
haha cool
GeArGuY3 years ago
Really cool, I wish my welder would come sooner!
CaptPikel3 years ago
Nice project. I made a hand a few years ago and this reminded me of it. Probably right around the same time you first published this lol. I used steel wire for tendons. It was all scrap metal I had. Made it for the garden.
My latest completed welding project Not exactly an entire skeleton, more of a cat.
dan (author)  T3h_Muffinator8 years ago
wow! nice kitty!
Now hand pets kitty!
Love your kitty,so I made one too. Along with a few boltbugs. Welding in the "eyes" was difficult, so I attached them with a nut and washers on the back. The eyes would shift during the weld. By the way, I got one of those $50 Harbor Freight A/D helmets and it works great.
Harbor Freight :)
I love harbor freight
Thanks =)
looks like the cat from Coraline what with the flat head
I just finished the cat today.
Jynx. botronics5 years ago
This reminds me a lot of the cat from the movie "Coraline".
AWESOME! Great job, it looks sweet! What'd you use for the tail? I had problems with burnthrough on that one.
I should have arched the back a bit to make the cat look more natural. that back is pretty flat! Funny, one doesn't notice this until after it is done.
Its the iron wire they use to bundle up steel when it comes into the shop. About 1/8 " thick. I had to do it three times because I burned off the tail too!
I've been wanting to make a junk rat. (im an ametuer welder who has pet rats) and so I'm wondering where to start.
Hmmmm....... Well... I'd start with nuts and bolts, since they're easy to find and not expensive at all.

In terms of making the actual rat, make the body first, then come up with a creative way to make the head. Determine how 3-D you want it to come out, and just think out the whole process in your head; that's how I do mine =)
that homework sheet looks familiar.....what is it?
I think it's a rubric for one of my English papers..... I don't remember exactly, though... it's been a long while!
wow thats really gd!
rkelly104 years ago
whats the size of the nuts and bolts?
killerke4 years ago
hay, i made one myself , your tutorial was verry helpfull, i wouldnt think of something like this in the first place.
I'm verry thankfull maybe i can send u a picture of my completed hand,
It took about 1,5 to 2 hours to finish it, my dad won't be pleased when he sees i took all of is big bolts and nuts xD

btw thank you for this

grtz killerke
gaara0sama17 years ago
Can you sodder them?
no the solder connection would be to weak to hold very much weight
my grandfather works at a small welding company. and this is such a bl00dy good idea i may have to borrow some equipment from him ...
Tupulov5 years ago
Very cool! A friend made one of these for me. I use it in my Cave to hang my different work aprons.
NutandBolt5 years ago
Great instructable, Your creations are great. I made the skeleton hand and it works great as hook behind the door in my work shed.
DSCN0991 (Medium).JPGDSCN0992 (Medium).JPG
 here is mine. i plan to get started on a life size human skeleton  
:D i am totally going to do this! great idea!
Seems to be a popular first project for up-and-coming welders like me. I'm using a plain old manual arc welder. Thanks for the instructable, Dan.
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hammer98766 years ago
As previously noted by other people, this project makes me wish I had a welder. I really like the idea of starting with nuts and bolts and ending up with a great coat holder. Great imagination.
mspark4007 years ago
Pretty awesome!! I have wanted to learn how to weld for a long time and you may have just convinced me it's time! Project 1 this ,Project 2 Skeleton!!! ps +1
as promised i finally got my arc welder today! first project, This! After that, armor for my iron man exo-suit!
Esmagamus7 years ago
Great idea, not new though. A friend of mine made a hand out of soft steel nails SMAW-welded together. Your welds do need some practice, but don't be discouraged. SMAW welding is tricky, a lot more than MIG.
R4Man187 years ago
The welds make me cry... Jeeze. Cool Idea very Terminator toy like.
EnigmaMax7 years ago
you could use brass knuckles instead for the
that would look awesome if you used blades for fingers.
$ NAB $7 years ago
It would have been better if the joints could move but anyway nice project
one of them was made by alexthegreat
Thanx a lot.I'll make that one too.
cvxdes7 years ago
I made one, for no reason at all. But hey, I had nothing to do, so why not?
Kind of cool. Can you do robots?
callmeshane7 years ago
One could machine the finger tip bolts into FINE acutely angled points, to make for a good back scratcher... The blood, the blood.... it's too sharp!!!!!
Woah, that's pretty sweet! I've never been much for "scrap metal art" but this one grabbed my attention... and looks easy and cool! PS: a note of caution... I'd suggest staying away from galvanized bolts... they give some nasty fumes. Shouldn't EVER weld galvanized... PPS: TIG's are better!!! ;P but a bit harder...
AHH! Yess! I finally made one of my own! The fingers are a bit off, but I love it!
dan (author)  T3h_Muffinator8 years ago
Actually, I just took it in to metal shop class today and made it all shiny via wire wheel! (Pic coming soon) I plan to make an entire body.... in the 14 days we have left in class.... V_V Well, there's always next year!
buy your own arc welder! they're only about £50 for a little one that you need for this scale of work. I'd have made a welded metal skeleton by now, but i can't find the scrap steel, which is a shame, cos i'm looking forward to scaring all the little kids.
I've got a MIG welder, I just didn't have a wire wheel at home, and I don't have any scrap metal at home.

I'm making a kitty for my friend for her birthday (shhhhhh, don't tell!) =)
MIG's are supposed to be awesome. Are they????? P.S. Ask at different stores, we got twelve hoof rasps (for making knives) off a nice old guy at western feed one time. And then we're getting tons of used propane tanks off of a gas supplier (for free)
Thanks for the tips! Yes, MIGs are awesome ;)
andy607 years ago
nice idea thanks, i'll make one of these on saturday
Charles IV7 years ago
i don't have a welder :(
bowmaster8 years ago
Ramnosity8 years ago
woah, this is really cool.
toogood8 years ago
i think it looks batter with ugly welds
superkoop8 years ago
i think im goin to build a entire metal skeleton in my welding class at school. it will be my first project, so i'll have to see if it turns out or not. by the way, does anyone have any pictures of a metal skeleton???? i looked all over and couldnt find any.
dan (author)  superkoop8 years ago
i recommend basing your design on pictures of a bone skeleton.
bethehammer8 years ago
Cool Project...I was just thinking about my Halloween projects for this year... Just added this to my list. Good job.
fireman joe8 years ago
great project man i am just about finished buildiong one, thanks for the idea
Awsome idea, im currently doing a smaller version of this at work as a spare time project. Looks funky as!
Sweet, I just got a 130 amp mig welder, this will be my first project!

I'm way too excited =P
bobLog9 years ago
Zinc plated and galvanized metals (ie most nuts and bolts) are bad choices for beginning welding projects. The zinc given off is not good for you. Even if you wear an approved welding mask, you most likely do not have the appropriate ventilation to clear the fumes. Stick to clean (no paint, grease, etc) mild steal. Bitch'n project BTW.
1twopass bobLog8 years ago
Yo i posted about this on a later page... Soak your coated hardware in Muriatic Acid and Water mixuture. 10 parts water 1 part muriatic acid. Add the Acid to the Water. Stir. Soak hardware for about 1 and a half minutes. Your welds will look prettier too. Its really a perfect project for TIGing steel. Very pretty welds would result. I need to practice my Tig so i'll probably try it out.
dan (author)  bobLog9 years ago
yes, i already noted this in step 1. the amount of zinc in standard zinc-plated hardware is very small, probably 10x to 100x less than galvanized hardware. however i'm not an expert, and not a doctor, so do your own research on toxicity. i suggest effective exhaust no matter what you are welding, since you never know what is in any particular thing you are working with.
1twopass8 years ago
Some of the hardware you are using looks galvanized. It should be soaked in a mix of water an Muriatic acid ( also known as Hydrochloric acid ) for a minute or two. It is toxic to breathe in the fumes of galvanized hardware. Your welds will look much better too.
cryptopath9 years ago
Thanks for the great idea! I'm a HS senior student in Bangkok, Thailand, and I used it to make a trophy for the upcoming LEGO Mindstorms robotics competition. The best thing about Thailand is that I can use the school's 300A arc-welder in my school uniform with just gloves and an apron... Not that it's safe, but I really want this learning experience before I go to the US (and say hello to stricter restrictions).

The maintanence crew at my school helped tack the fingers together, and I welded them. The guys got bored of the "bzzt-bzzt" of the rod getting stuck, so when I wasn't looking, one of them finished the palm for me (which made me sad, because I wanted to do it). But I got to attach the bones of the arm, and the same guy made the attachment to go with the base I bought. Pretty cool, huh. Questions? Contact me at frankDOTthaanDOTlinATgmailDOTcom

Here's the result. More can be seen at my weblog:


Here are some on the Instructables server.
dan (author)  cryptopath9 years ago
wow! that looks great!
Awesome project! Great first welding lesson.
vrogy9 years ago
Variation on the theme: oxyfuel-cut, then banged into shape on an anvil.
Skyler9 years ago
hmmm... i could see making one with joints.. thumbscrews would be used to tighten and loosen the joints.. fun, fun! now i just need to find a junkyard...and a blowtorch... and a threader.
Stagecraft9 years ago
If you do use galvanized nuts and bolts be sure to drink lots of milk (not skim). Milk helps counter act the gasses given off by burning zinc, which is what makes something galvanized. I think a MIG welder would work best on. They are easy to learn, and fun to use. Sweet project!
lurker999 years ago
what kind of welding rig did you use ?
dan (author)  lurker999 years ago
I used a 175 amp MIG, but i think this could be done with pretty much any kind of welder. if your welder is on the small side, you might be limited to using thinner parts in your hand.
DarthMaker9 years ago
If you are ever in Berlin, check out Orionbergerstrasse. It's full of studios where artists have created these elaborate, welded, metallic creatures. One of my favorite art genres now! I want a huge beast for my house...
maffiou9 years ago
I like the fact that this is anatomically correct: Radius and cubitus... Would you consider doing the rest of the body ? I'd like to see that...
awsome first welding project makes me want to make a whole scelaton