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Construct a fork and stand for shining sunlight into prisms and other experiments!

The water prism is the second component of the art and science experiments that I do and will be explained in a later tutorial.

Step 1: Get a New Stand Plan

Draw a sketch of what you want to accomplish. Usually you can foresee some problems you will need to solve so you can think about them while you get started.

Look at your mirror for a few days before you drill holes on either side of the frame. Determine how thick the wood is on either side of the glass. If the wood is old, then it might crack.

If you drill in too far the bit hits the glass. It makes a sort of snap noise you feel in the pit of your stomach and you look at the new crack you have added to your mirror that runs across the center.

Avoid this by carefully estimating how far in you can drill. I got a black sharpie and marked the bit so I would know when to stop.

You can't do this sort of thing perfectly all the time. I have broken some but I always learn from it and I succeeded this time because I was careful and unafraid.

Step 2: Get Your Mirror on the Floor \--/Cut Metal Pieces to Fit

Every mirror shape is different.

I used 1" square steel stock.

Because the frame was octagonal,I made the miter angle by precisely folding a rectangular piece of paper over to the corner for a 45 degree and then again for a 22.5 degree.

To keep even space between the mirror and the frame, I placed a spare piece of 1"square stock along the edge of the mirror and used my paper template to mark the metal according to the sharpie lines I drew on the floor.

Then I used an angle grinder with a cutting wheel to cut the metal while it was held in a vice. All the parts are cut and filed down so they fit together well on the floor around the mirror.

For the two ends of the fork, drill a hole through perpendicular to the angle of the miter cut. I made my holes 1/2" from the top of the fork. Steel is easier to get through if you make a 1/8" pilot hole first and then the 3/8" hole. Choose the size based on the size of the threaded rod being put into the mirror. Sometimes I use 1/2" rod, sometimes 1/4", depending on the size and weight of the mirror. Then I used the angle grinder to cut out the metal above the holes so that the mirror axels can be lowered into the groove.

Step 3: Weld Your Pieces Together.

Put on:
Welding helmet.
Welding gloves.
Welding coat.
Welding boots.
Long pants.

Plug in welder.
Clamp ground to table.
Turn on welder.
Adjust volts to amount for thickness of wire and pieces being welded together.
Adjust wire feed speed.
Get clamps to hold parts in place.


Begin by welding the base together. All three legs are welded in the triangular arrangement shown.

Next, the metal plate is welded onto the top of the intersection of the three legs. Flip over structure and weld intersections of the legs and the plate underneath.

Flip the structure back over. Weld the pole to the plate directly above the intersection of the three legs insuring that the pole is perfectly perpendicular to the plate with a welding magnet.

Finally the base is flipped over and large casters are welded to the bottom of the end of each leg.

Clamp the first two pieces of the fork to the welding table and measure the angle with another bar of 1" and the 45 degree angle metal carpenters triangle to get them properly lined up before welding. There maybe a small gap at the intersection of the cuts were not perfect. The angle is more important. Welding the 1/16" thin square stock can be tricky because it melts quickly. Short zaps can make it so it doesn't melt a hole through. But if a hole forms lay little bits on either side of the hole until it closes back up and can be ground down later. Weld around all four edges. After welding the first edge ,wait a moment with the clamps still on so as the metal cools it can't twist. Continue to clamp new pieces down carefully measuring the angle each time before the weld. After all the fork parts are together, measure to find the center of the fork and weld on the stem that fits into the pole on the base.

Once the welds are done, it's time to grind it down. Back to the angle grinder but with a grinding wheel or grinding pad. Clamp each weld intersection close to the edge of the table so you can push down on the weld without bending the structure. Grind down the parts of the fork till they are smooth.

Step 4: Add Axels

Carefully drill holes in the side of the mirror making sure in some way that the bit stops before getting to the mirror or, for aesthetics, cutting into the frame.

Cut pieces of threaded rod long enough to:
Screw into the mirror
Have a nut at the edge where mirror meets air
Have a nut on the inside of the fork
Have two nuts outside the fork

My threaded rod is 3/8" diameter so that I didn't make two big of a hole in the frame.

It went in about 1" and I used an adjustable wrench to screw it in slowly clamping on the outer most nut of the pair on the end of the threaded rod.

Step 5: Put the Mirror Into the Frame

This is to see if it fits and to show off your skills. Take a selfie pointing your cell at the mirror at you and notice how ridiculous you look looking at the phone in the mirror in the photo.
Take the photo again and try to look up at yourself holding the phone before you take the shot. Oh did it take?

Tighten the nuts on the fork so that you can move the angle of the mirror and it stays in position. Point the sun in responsible ways. Ie not at cars or in people's eyes. No one likes that.

Roll the stand around and notice that on cement or hard wood it's great and grass needs bigger wheels.

Step 6: Paint the Frame

Painting the frame you welded out if steel will protect its delicate iron from oxidizing when it gets all wet in the rain or your room mate sprays it with the hose.

Use enamel house paint and do it in the sun because it dries faster and you breath less fumes outside. Yes paint fumes are bad for you. Wear a breathing mask.

Obviously if you are worried about rain do it inside with fans and doors and windows open.

You need a can with paint thinner to clean brush at the end and a rag to get it off your skin if that happens.

Now let it dry and put the mirror back in.
Soo spiffy!
<p>This looks pretty nice!</p><p>Perhaps a more descriptive title would be helpful though, to help people know up front what it is you have made. Just a thought! ;)</p>

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Bio: People call me wizard. I mix art and science to find beauty in the physics of our universe. In San Francisco I created the Art-Science ... More »
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