Introduction: Banana Hanger
This one was for my buddies sister. I like to make pieces that are at once functional and a form of sculptural art. I think this succeeds at that. There are almost limitless possibilities for a piece like this, I let the materials on hand help me decide the final form the piece should take.
Before you start let's talk about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Use it. If you're new to welding invest in a good welding mask. Spend as much on it as you do on the welder itself. I use a 3M Speedglas. Worth every penny. Get a respirator designed to fit under a mask, the fumes aren't healthy, dust mask for grinding. Wear leather shoes, an leather apron, and good gloves. I have different gloves for different purposes: heavy gauntlet welding gloves, mechanic type gloves that offer more dexterity, and heavy padded leather gloves for using wire wheels on grinders. And lots of safety glasses and face shields.
On a side note I use a Lincoln 140 MIG welder with .035" diameter flux core wire and DeWalt right angle grinders. I also use lots of ViseGrips.
Step 1: Drawing
Square nuts "spoke" to me on the day I put this together and would be come the core material element. The profile of it is key, it needs to be balanced correctly so that the bananas hand straight down and it won't tip.
Usually my sketches start small and need to be enlarged to actual size.
There's no wrong shape, draw what you like.
Step 2: The Spine
I bent quarter inch (1/4") rod to match the shape of the drawing. Often I'll use a piece of material that was bent in its previous life and use that shape. This one needed to follow the drawing. Narrow rod like this can be purchased very cheaply at most home improvement stores. If you're going to need a lot of it look for a steel building materials supplier, it'll likely come in 20' pieces (which can easily be cut to manageable sizes with bolt cutters) and will likely cost as much as a 3' piece from a home center. Most steel suppliers don't advertise that they'll sell to retail customers, but most will.
Step 3: Add the Bones
Square nuts were tack welded along the full length of the spine and then welded to each other. This adds rigidity to the spine.
To keep the shape flat and in plane I clamp it to the bench. Once the square nuts are welded to the spine and to each other the form will be stiff enough to hold bananas and will hold itself flat so that it can stand up straight.
Step 4: Add the Legs
The legs were salvaged from a guitar stand. Symmetry is key with the legs, and they need to be long enough and able to be made wide enough to support the bananas.
If I'm making something like this from scratch that needs to be symmetrical I'll usually weld the two pieces of material together and bend them at the same time. For material 5/16" and under it can usually be bent by hand with a sturdy vise and some hammer persuasion. Thicker than that will require heat.
Step 5: Legs Need Feet
The banana hanger is essentially a tripod. It stands on the tail in the back and on two feet in the front. I continued the theme of using square nuts for the feet.
Be creative here. The feet, as with the rest of the piece, can be made of nearly anything. The trick with this is to get it to stand up straight. A flat steel bench gives a reference surface to work. I have a thick piece of steel bent at 90 degrees that's used to keep things square. some magnets, a framing square, and a good eye will do the same in a pinch.
I take as much advantage of the tripod as much as possible, nothing I've ever made with three points of contact has ever rocked.
Step 6: Add the Hook
I make the hooks from two layers of 1/8" rod wrapped around a washer and tacked together. These are stiff enough to hold a large bunch of bananas and rounded so that they don't cut through the stems.
This is the best/easiest hook design I've found, took a little trial an error but it works. As always, use what you have. Nearly any small materials can be a hook for this kind of piece; let them to speak to you.
Step 7: Give It a Good Bath
Some days I think I should call myself
"MoreMetal Grinding and Polishing". Because of flux-core wire I use in my MIG welder and the often rusty and dirty salvaged materails my pieces typically require a LOT of clean up before they can be finished.
I typically start by sand blasting the welding splatter and finish with wire wheels in a right angle grinder to polish the piece before clear coat or paint.
Be careful, wire wheels on a right angle grinder are more dangerous than just about anything. They'll peel part of a tattoo off way quicker than you'd like.
PPE is key, I probably should go back and add that to the beginning. I use a full face shied, ear protection, leather apron and I have dedicated gloves for wire-wheeling. I'm right handed so the grinder is in my right hand and I hold the material with my left. I have a sturdy leather glove with a second cotton jersey glove inside of it specifically for wire-wheeling.
This takes practice, but the effort to clean the piece before finishing is worth it. You can also have small pieces like this professionally sand blasted quite affordably. The guy that does my power-coating also does sandblasting when I need it.
Step 8: Put on a Coat
For pieces that will be kept indoors and out of the weather I typically use clear Rustoleum. It's affordable, easy, and durable enough for most pieces.
Paint can be a nice touch, they offer a lot of great colors.
For outdoor pieces I rely on powder coating, I found a local guy who does great work.
Step 9: Hang Them Up
There you go. A simple piece that can be used everyday. A nice way to interject a little art into your morning.