Introduction: Brandon Welds a Napkin Holder

I have been teaching Brandon [my grandson] to weld and he loves working in the shop and making special projects. Brandon is 15 and has Autism.  He has been using my hood, gloves and apron and I thought it was time he had his own gear, so here he is working on a napkin holder with his new gear on. We'll go through the steps of making the napkin holder...

Step 1: Final Product - Welded Napkin Holder

Here is what the finished product looks like after being welded and painted....Now let's go through the various steps of how to get to this point...

Step 2: Raw Materials Needed

To start with, 5 pieces of 1/4" diameter steel rod are required for the project.

1 piece that is 24 inches long for the base, and 4 pieces that are 17 inches long for the sides.

Step 3: Creating the Base Pt. 1

Creating the Base with a Temporary Spacer Rod: To bend the spiral shape of the base, a 1/4 inch temperary spacer rod is used between the coils when bending. This picture and the following ones show how to make the temporary spacer from a piece of scrap rod using a rod bender with a 3/4 inch post.

Our rod bender is a simple home made plate with a 3/4 inch post and a 1/2 inch post.

Step 4: Creating the Base Pt. 2

Here is a shot that shows using the home-made bender and the 3/4" post to create a loop in the temporary spacer rod.  This spacer rod will be used to create the actual base later.

Step 5: Creating the Base Pt. 3

Continuing with the creation of the temporary spacing rod.  The actual base rod will be constructed by using cut pieces from this  temporary spacer and bending around them...

Step 6: Creating the Base Pt. 4

After about two complete bends, the temporary spacer rod will look like the photo. We have shaded the area of the rod that will be used for the spacer. Remove the coiled rod from the bender and cut out [using a hack saw] and save the white shaded piece.

Step 7: Creating the Base Pt. 5

Making the Spiral Base:

Using the 24 inch rod, bend a tang approx. 1/2 inch long on each end of the rod.

Step 8: Creating the Base Pt. 6

Using the 3/4 inch post on the rod bender, insert the tang into the 1/4 inch hole next to the post and start to bend. [Note: The tang will be cut off later]

Step 9: Creating the Base Pt. 7

Starting the spiral bend with the 24 inch rod.  The tang is inserted into the plate next to the 3/4 inch post.

Step 10: Creating the Base Pt. 8

After the 24 inch base rod has one complete turn on the bender, insert the spacer rod as shown. We filed the spacer rod to a V shape on one end so it nests properly into the spiral rod. It may not look pretty, but it works.

Step 11: Creating the Base Pt. 9

After 2 turns, the spiral is complete and the spacer rod has given the spiral base detail a nice spiral shape on one end of the base.

Step 12: Creating the Base Pt. 10

Here is what the base spiral rod looks like so far.  Now we have to do the same thing thing to the opposite end...

Step 13: Creating the Base Pt. 11

The second spiral on the base spiral rod is made just like the spiral on the other end. Make sure you're going in a counter clockwise direction so the base will look like the photo.

Step 14: Creating the Base Pt. 12

Before cutting off the tangs, check the length of the rod.  It should be approx. 6 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide. You may have to put it back in the bender and do some adjusting.

Step 15: The Base Finished Product

Once the base is correctly sized, spaced, and leveled out, the tangs can now be cut off...

Step 16: Creating the Sides Pt. 1

Four side pieces are required. Use a 17 inch long rod for each piece. Spiral bend one end on each of the four rod pieces using the 1/4 inch spacer. The other end of the rod is also bent using the 3/4 inch post and going about 2/3 around the post as shown.

Step 17: Creating the Sides Pt. 2

One of the 4 side pieces is complete. Three pieces need the upper bend put in. Tangs on the spiral pieces have not been cut off yet. Tangs are not needed to make the upper bend. We're almost done with the sides.

Step 18: Sides and Base Are Done

All of the rods are now bent, the tangs are cut off, and details are ready for welding. Note that spirals on the base and the spirals on the lower part of the side details are the same. Let's prepare the pieces to weld...

Step 19: Wooden Clamp Block

Cut a wooden block 6 1/2 inches long by 2 inches wide by 1 1/2 inches high to clamp or screw the parts in place when tack welding.
Also shown are four feet made from 1/4 inch bent rod. Small steel balls also make good feet. [See finished picture]

Step 20: Ready to Weld

The spiral pieces are screwed to the wood block for tack welding with washers and wood screws. The wood has a center line and other layout lines to aid in keeping the various pieces lined up correctly.  Don't move to the next step until the pieces are placed exactly where you want them...Now we're ready to weld...

Step 21: After Welding

The wooden block really helps to hold the 2 inch dimension opening for napkins while welding.

Step 22: Ready to Paint

Here is a view of the finished product napkin holder, ready to paint...Notice the symmetry on the pieces.  Take special care when bending to achieve an even look...

Step 23: The Finished Product

Here is another view of the finished product after painting...A very attractive piece for your kitchen...Brandon was able to practice his bending and welding skills, and we've made napkin holders for several people in the family!  Happy welding!

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