As much as I'd like to take full credit for this idea I can not (though i can claim most of it ).and being a person of ethics .I must give credit where credit is do .I was watching discovery channel one day and saw this professor (Walter R. Tschinkel if you'd like to google him) down in flordia .he was studying the tunneling habits of ants and would find abandoned nests and pour in molten zinc .then ,after waiting for it to cool ,he would dig it up and would end up with these amazing pieces that would spiral up to eight feet high

after having seen that months before I was laying in bed staring into the dark above me and I was hit with a flash .it's a feeling not easily described ,though it is how I get most of my ideas

so i set out to build a coffee table designed by ants .useing left over, unused, and unwated things .a jigsaw found in the trash, aluminum cans, warped wood and salvaged glass. just to name a few

I hope you enjoy

Step 1: Tools and Materials


-skill saw
-table saw
-jig/scroll saw
-compound radial arm mater saw
-orbital palm sander
-cordless screw driver
-drill bit (1/8 of an inch)
-counter sink bit
-philips drill bit
-drywall square
-tape measure
-assortment of clamps


-MIG welder
-port a band
-electric drill
-wire brush
-tape measure
-right angle clamp


-4'x8' sheet of fourth inch ply wood
-1x1 pieces of wood roughly 10-20 feet
-3/4 screws
-1 screws
-wood glue
-silicon caulk
-wood filler
-KILZ latex primer
-generic red spray paint
-blue painters masking tape


-angle iron
-metal ring
-some sort of metal object to make into a hinge
-3 long 1/2 bolt ,nut and washer
-KILZ original spray paint
-rust-oleum flat black spray paint


-eye/face shield
-ear protection
-leather work gloves
-welding leathers
-welding mask
-leather shoes


-small buckets with water tight lids
-insect spray
-wet dry shop vacuum
-large bin or tub that will hold water
-piece of glass for the top of the form to contain the ants
-portable awning
-weather stripping
-spring clamps
-zinc and aluminum (melted soda cans work great for the aluminum)
-fire bricks
-propane torch
-paint brush
-pressure washer
Sodabowski10 months ago

Well thanks a lot for the time you took to document the process. That idea is awesome.

cclayton1 year ago
What a great project! Thank you for sharing it and including the bumps along the way along with the solutions. It sounds like your Dad is a great guy who raised you well.
chicopluma4 years ago
the feeling you described is an epiphany, i also had them while in my sleep.
the only problem is that your table looks like made by spiders, no by ants haha
Arbitror6 years ago
Way to copy my 3D picture effect!
I don't mind though! Good job!
somebullcrap (author)  Arbitror6 years ago
i just looked threw your instructables but saw nothing of the sort .i copied it after seeing it elsewhere online
I honestly don't think you did that right. It does not appear 3D to me and the "shaking" effect is not there. Yours is more a panning. Compare both images and you will see what I mean.
somebullcrap (author)  Arbitror6 years ago
aaaah i did see that one but didn't open it because i thought you had done an instructable on how to do the effect
This effect has been featured on Lifehacker and many large sites. Its no secret. haha
pacwoods5 years ago
Fire ants?? yow! they are dangerous and painful!
paqrat6 years ago
Back in the 70's a friend of a friend told me about something he had tried. He was making castings of ant nests using molten lead. Advantage to lead , it melted at a low temp and was heavy so it filled the nests well. I think with some of other metals you might have a surface tension problem getting it into the holes of the nest. I think that might also be a problem with resins.
jeff-o6 years ago
Ouch! I've never seen a picture of a pressure washer "burn" though I've heard of it. Apparently a minute amount of oil from the compressor can be forced under the skin, which is what causes the infection.
Pressure wash burn is nasty stuff. Ever wonder why they use water pressure cutters instead of conventional drill techniques? Because the water can be so finely focused it can cut insane designs out of really brittle materials (it was on american chopper, they used their new water jet cutter to cut a statue out of a carrot and tried the same thing with a drill. Safe to say the carrot got mangled with the drill).
chuckr446 years ago
In 1983 I was puring hot wax down anthills for a science project. So Mr. Tshinkle did not have the original idea. But using molten metal is better because the wax was a bit brittle and the delicate off-tunnels broke off easily. Though the main nest remained in one piece.
somebullcrap (author)  chuckr446 years ago
thats awesome do you have any pics of the wax castings you got? .and i didn't say Tshinkle had the original idea just that he is the one i got my idea from
No pics. That was a long time ago.
This table doesn't look usable (although cool looking). Can you actually put a chair under it as normal?
somebullcrap (author)  Master Roda6 years ago
Valid question and no you can not because it is a coffee table .after rereading threw it I saw I didn’t specify it as being a coffee table (though i did mentioned threw out it only stands 17 inches high) Sorry for the confusion .I’ll amend that at once
RadBear6 years ago
Maybe if you smeared honey or some other food on the bootom of the mold before you filled it with sand the ants would be drawn to the bottom.
rachel6 years ago
Wow, that's a fantastic idea and execution. it is always amazing to see the things people come up with to make.
DainiusGB6 years ago
wow cool idea, massive project.
Sandisk1duo6 years ago
what's the deal with the first picture?
flio1916 years ago
poor ants, great job! what a long term investment for something you will never see the result of until the very end.
somebullcrap (author)  flio1916 years ago
yeah tell me about it .fortunately the pay off was worth it
haha, hey, guess what, you're my hundreth comment! congrats. anyway, yeah, i can relate because i do film photography, though your wait was much longer.
Lftndbt6 years ago
Nice effect. I was hoping you had constructed a table housing a functioning colony though. That would be AWESOME!!
solo.card6 years ago
Shame about the wrecking of all the ants nests...
Sandisk1duo6 years ago
that's very cool! at first i thought that that was white yarn
Melting metal is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That .gif is really messing with my eyes lol.
irromfh6 years ago
Any particular reason (corrosive protection, strength etc) for the Aluminum? Any other materials come to mind that might not be as dangerous as molten metal? great ible very thorough.
somebullcrap (author)  irromfh6 years ago
I honestly don't know to much about alloys .I did some research before I went throwing metals together and found among other articles this one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinc_aluminum .it does do the best at describing the ZA alloy

and as far as less dangerous (if you want to take away the fun:) materials to cast in .the only thing I can think of right off that would have the strength needed is a 2 part epoxy resin
nice thinking, great instructable! 11!1!1!!!!oneoneoneone1!! Cool pics- lol it did appear 3d.... :O
gmjhowe6 years ago
That is pretty awesome.
Freaking great!