I was on my way to California. Just a few miles outside of Vegas, my car started over heating. With 250 miles to go, there was no way I was going to make it. So I went back home and found the next flight out. This is what I made until it was time to go to the airport. It's a ladybug made from steel, brass, and silver solder.
Step 1: Cutting Circles
I started by tracing a couple circles onto 22 gauge sheet metal. A penny and bullet shell seemed about the right diameter. I cut those out, soldered them on a bullet shell and chucked them into my lathe. Once they were cut round I de-soldered them.
Step 2: Embossing the Wings
In order to emboss a design as centered as possible, I placed the larger circle back into my lathe. The spinning motion makes it easy to mark the dead center. It's the contact point were the scribe no longer wobbles. I also marked a couple circles to lay out the rivets.
Next I used an automatic center punch to mark 8 points. Six of them are drilled out.
I used a doming block to make two half spheres. Basically you start by placing your piece in one of the larger depressions and hammer it with a corresponding punch. It takes shape by moving through progressively smaller depressions.
Step 3: Setting the Rivets
I used a small drill bit to puncture the steel. I then used a pointed diamond bur to expand the holes until they were large enough to pass a rivet through. Now, I'm calling them rivets but they started out as small brass nails. The head of each has burs from the production process. To de-bur, I chucked them in my drill press and took a file to the area under the head. Without this step the rivets would not sit flush.
A rule of thumb for rivet peen length is 1.5 times its thickness. I guesstimated and snipped them with diagonal cutting pliers. One by one, I placed the rivets in a hole and used a doming block punch as a hammer. It's important to hammer against a hard surface or the rivet won't peen.
Step 4: Soldering
This project is soldered in 3 different places; at the antenna, head, and legs. I find it easiest to start with the largest joint first and then move onto smaller ones. Smaller pieces of metal heat up much faster then larger pieces. The trick is to only use enough heat so you don't also melt the larger joint you just did.
To make a better joint, and a more believable bug, I ground down a spot on the head. I also cut a couple notches for the antenna. Solder is placed underneath and heated from the top.
It's easier to polish the bug at this point. I used polishing compound and a buffing wheel.
Next, the antenna are shaped from a paper clip and soldered into the notch. Since the head has more mass then the antenna, you'll want to place the flame over the head. The solder will suck right into the notch.
Step 5: Fitting the Legs
I straightened out 4 paper clips. One is used to wrap the other 3 into a bundle. I then soldered them together. The base of the antenna holds the leg assembly in place. Again, with a little bit of solder. From there I snipped the legs just longer than the body and curved them. Don't forget to file any sharp edges.
I wanted to do something more with the back, like set in a picture, fill it with polymer clay, or epoxy putty, but I had to catch my flight.
From California, Thanks for reading.