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I need help making a geometric metal plant shelf without welding? Answered

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I want to make a geometric metal plant shelf like the image below to hang on my wall. I'm going to paint it so the metal connections don't have to be pretty, but they do have to be strong enough to hold a few pounds of plants. I'm think I could use 1/8 inch steel rods from Home Depot and connect them with epoxy or soldering but I'm not sure if that would work. I have a chop saw. If you have any advice on how I could connect these together to make a shelf, I would appreciate any advice. Thanks!

11 Replies

Jack A Lopez (author)2017-09-26

I made a printable, paper model for the geometry of this shelf, using TeX and PSTricks, because this was something I have been trying to learn how to do anyway. The math, to figure out the numbers for the points defining the lines and stuff, was done using Octave, and also pencil and paper.

I'll attach the .tex, the .pdf, and a picture of the finished result here to this post.

Uh.. wait. Only the picture seems to be successfully attaching here. The others I will link to below. The .tex had to be renamed to .txt, because the uploader does not like .tex for some reason.



In the attached picture, three of the tetrahedron nets have been colored, with colored pencils, and two of them have been cut out of the paper, and folded into 3D form, and glued, and glued to the triangles on the, "wall", on the upper part of the page.

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iceng (author)2017-09-24

Steel soldering is easy

Watch it being done !

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rickharris (author)iceng2017-09-25

Mmmm, brazing and soldering are technically different processes. Although similar. I take your point though.

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Jack A Lopez (author)rickharris2017-09-25

The only difference between soldering and brazing is the melting point of the filler metal, and as a consequence of this, the amount of heat needed to flow the filler metal into the pieces to be joined.

Actually, I think I can generalize it further, by relaxing the requirement that the filler material, and pieces to be joined, be metals.

Then, in this more general sense, putting wooden sticks together with hot glue, and also getting one's tongue stuck to a cold flag flagpole,


are the same thing as soldering and brazing.

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rickharris (author)Jack A Lopez2017-09-26

I understood, not a metallurgist or expert in these matters! - that when brazing the heat was sufficient to allow the filler metal to defuse into the metal being joined, this is what gives such a strong joint.

Where soldering is very much a low temperature surface joint.

However I am happy to accept they are similiar processes and easily achieved at home.

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Jack A Lopez (author)2017-09-24

You can tie two steel rods together, side by side, by winding steel wire, like baling wire,


in a helix, around both rods.

So. Yeah. It could literally be held together with baling wire, and strongly too, if you use enough of it. This might be a little ugly, but it will hopefully look prettier after spray painting it all the same color.

By the way, if you are going to do this by first making a bunch of rigid triangles, it is important to notice these triangles are not the same size.

It is funny, because just from looking at the picture, it looks there's a lot of symmetry there. I was thinking, "OK. So every triangle is an equilateral triangle (all sides same length), and the tetrahedrons holding up the shelves are regular tetrahedrons (again all sides the same length)."

But then, after thinking about it a little bit, I realized this cannot be the case, and the reason why is because the shelves have to be at right angles to the wall, for to keep the plants from sliding off!

So one of the sides on those tetrahedrons is longer than the others, and some of the triangle faces, specifically the two, off the wall, under each potted plant are isosceles rather than equilateral.

Assuming all the triangles on the wall are equilateral, with sides of length {A,A,A}, and the horizontal shelves are also equilateral {A,A,A}, then the dimensions of the two isosceles triangles under each plant are, have to be, {A,B,A},

where B = (3/2)^(1/2)*A = 1.2247*A

and the {A,A,A} triangles have circumference 3*A

and the {A,B,A} triangles have circumference 2*A+B=(3.2247)*A

The reason this is important is because if you were planning on bending each triangle from a single length of rod, the length needed for the {A,B,A} triangles is a little longer, than for the {A,A,A} triangles.

For example if all your rods are 36 inches long,and it's going to be one rod for each triangle, then you have to pick an A, so that both 3*A and 2*A+B are shorter than 36 inches.

As an example: A = 11.0 , B = 1.2247*11.0 = 13.4717

gives 3*A = 33, and 2*A+B=(3.2247)*A = 35.4717

and both those are less than 36, so both those triangles could be bent from 36 inch rod.

Dang! This explanation came out kind of wordy, and it still might not be clear what I'm saying.

Or maybe it was clear all along, like obvious, and I did not even have to explain it.

But if want me to explain it further, I can draw you a picture of it, or maybe a net,


with the same dimensions, you could print out, and cut with scissors, and fold into a small, 3D, paper version of what I am imagining this is supposed to look like.

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rickharris (author)2017-09-23

You mighyt get away with epoxy if you bend the wire ends over and wrap with some thinner soft wire, florists wire would be ideal.

See illustration.

Red is the rack and black is the binding wire.

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rickharris (author)rickharris2017-09-23

A thought:

You can't solder steel.

IF you can get hold of some 3 mm 1/8th brass brazing rod you will be able to solder that although you will need to use a gas torch to get it hot enough.

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iceng (author)2017-09-23

Welding is necessary unless you are expert in wire wrap or know how to forge..

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