Introduction: Photo Owl

About: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.

I’ve been working on a series of metalcraft kits for a Kickstarter project (big thanks to the members who’ve helped me so far). The idea is a kit with all the items you need to craft an item from metal. Launching this project has been quite the experience. There are so many details to take care of to include pledge rewards.

One of the rewards is a kit that covers the basics techniques of metalcrafting. I’m putting it out in the form of a “Steel Critters” kit. This little box will have what’s needed to create 3 different critters.  I have two out of three down. One's a gecko. Another's a spider. The third is still up in the air.

Here the guidelines I’m working under.
1) Sparks creative interest.
2) Can be completed with common tools.
3) Does not require special skill.

Along with describing the steps to create this I’ll explain why I consider the Photo Owl a failure. Back to the drawing board. Other ideas are a Seahorse, Mouse, and Crab. Any suggestions?

Step 1: Kit Parts

Out of the box you’d have a metal disc, wire, and the different size cylinder blanks to form the spirals. So metal shears or a lathe is not a factor for the crafter.

Step 2: Embossing

This step is easy. You’d need a hammer and tape. All you’d need to know is how to aim a hammer. Easy, I promise. So were still on track.

Step 3: Dapping

For this step you’d use an included carriage bolt and wooden square. You can’t mess this up. As long as you hammer the disc in-between the wood and bolt, it will turn into a convex dish. Still looking good.

Step 4: Owl Parts

This step requires a little more skill but not much. Wrapping a piece of wire around a socket it no problem. Though to separate them you need a pair of diagonal cutting pliers. This is a very common pair of pliers.

Filing the cut ends of the wire is where it could be tricky. To get the circles to close flush you have to use the same file angle on both sides. There would be enough wire to re-do this if it wasn’t right.

Trouble. To get a sharp bend in wire you have to file a notch. I used my diamond wheel in a drill press. These tools are not hard to get or specific to a trade but I consider them special. So I would have to modify the design.

The beak would come already cut out so no issue there.

Step 5: Deal Breaker: Soldering

Here’s where the failure was realized. To solder this you would need the following knowledge about working with silver solder.

1) Molten solder has a surface tension. It will keep parts in place to a certain extent.
2) Soldering one part will cause the part next to it to become molten again.
3) To overcome gravity you have to position the parts just right. That way they don’t slide off when your solder on other parts.
4) Solder must be placed so that the melting trail it leaves behind does not distract from the piece.

This kind of knowledge only comes through experience. Which voids the purpose of the kit. The idea is that a person of average skill can complete this. Even if they’ve never done it before. I consider this special skill. So I either have to modify the design or scrap it all together.

Other points: Another special tool; the wooden parallel clamp. If you’re a wood worker you may have one but your not going to want to singe it with a torch.

Which bring to mind “what if I don’t have a torch?”. You can use a jet lighter. They’re sold at any grocery store and are used for lighting candles.

Step 6: The Feet and Stand

This was not so hard. Basically you wrap the wire around a socket and then a smaller metal rod. With a little finagling it shapes right.

Step 7: Shining Up

The kit includes different grades of sandpaper, so shining it up would be done by hand and not in the same sequence as this instructable. It would show in the directions to polish before soldering.

So am I on the right track? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

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