This is my first instructable, I hope someone out there gets inspired like I did from the desktop 3D String Art found here . I tried to make this as simple and use as little as possible in raw materials, and it is literally aluminum and cotton twine and not much else. I plan on making another one but this time in a pentagon shape, with each inside angle 72 degrees instead of 90, but that won't be up for awhile.
6 feet of 3/4" aluminum pipe
aluminum tig rods
compound miter saw with good blade
3/16" drill bit
Power pro braded fishing line
hot glue gun
tape measure and fine marker
enamel spray paint (optional)
120 grit sandpaper
pipe deburring tool
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Step 1: Layout
I'm sorry I don't have any pictures of the actual welding and fitting, but I was at my buddy's shop and didn't have a camera with me so I will do my best to describe how this is done. First cut the pipe up, there are two pairs of identical pieces, one pair is 16" square to short 45 degrees( like this [======/), and another pair 16" long to short 45 degrees(like this /=====/). Please don't use a chop saw if you've never used one, cutting angles on aluminum pipe is not the best way to learn, if your not welding this but having someone else weld it they should be more than capable to do this too. The next thing is to measure from the short point on all four pieces and mark for your holes, I went with 1/2" inch centers, but you can go with whatever you want.
Step 2: Drilling the Holes
It is important to set up properly because there are a lot of holes, if you make this the same as I did it has 192 holes, and yes it takes a while that is why a drill press is needed plus the fact of drilling straight on pipe is hard to do with a hand drill. Clamp a short (between 6" and 16") piece of angle iron to the presses table half the distance of the OD of the pipe from the center of the drill bit. I had 3/4" pipe so I clamped it 3/8" from the drill bit. A lot of drill presses are variable speed and if this is the case set it to about 2500 rpm, I do not have this luxury but thats OK, just don't force the bit though because a lot of the burrs on the inside of the pipe will interfere with the twine when threading it. Using a center punch on the layout marks does hurt either, however not necessary. Lastly the two long to short pieces have holes drilled through both sides, and the square to short pieces are only drilled on one side, being the edge with the short of the angle.
Step 3: Preping and Welding
After drilling for an hour its time to clean the metal and prep it for welding. Sand sand sand, then sand some more, I cheat a lot and throw OHSA standards out the window, so I took each pipe and stuck them in a lathe and just stood there drinking a beer and holding on to the pipe with the sandpaper while the lathe was spinning the piece away. This should be good enough but a countersink or de-burring tool can save some time sanding. Then use a beltsander or a grinder with a sanding disk, (not a grinding wheel) to bevel the 45 cuts on the pipe ends. Then clamp the pieces to a table and check to see its' all good, because when the welding is done it's not going to be un-welded, and make sure all the holes line up. Then weld, tig or mig, and please use a hood, and if you want a great sunburn take your shirt off while welding.
Step 4: Painting and Threading
Now is a good time to paint or just leave the piece bare metal, and prepare for hours of fun. I found that the best way to thread the twine was to tie a reef knot with some power pro and tie it to the twine on the end(the closer to the end the better). Then I tied a surgeon loop on the other end of the Power pro(from now on I'm going to call this the feeder line), about 5" from the twine.The first thing I did was I used a 20" piece of steel leader to push through the inter-most hole on one of the outer most sides, and bent a very small loop (small enough to fit through the holes). Then I looped the feeder line to the leader and pulled it through, about 35 feet of twine, then tied a box knot several times so it wouldn't pull through the hole. Then I treaded and threaded and when I though I was getting close I threaded some more. The secret is to drink beer and do this after work because it is really mindless and it does take a long time, it took three evenings for me. The way to get the twine through each hole is to make a small U-shape out of some leader and bend a small loop on the end of this U-shape. Just feed the leader through each hole and loop the feeder line through and pull it o through. And whatever side the line comes out at the beginning the line will end up on the opposite side, this works well to know if you plan on making this with one solid piece of continuous twine, but one I started doing this with 80 feet of line or so I realized this would take a very long time so I did it with three pieces.
Step 5: Finishing
Keep at it, I threaded each section with the twine, and when I was done I tied the end to the next section when I was finished with the next section. I just tied a simple box knot and used a little hot glue to make sure the knot wasn't going anywhere. One small note, make sure when threading each section that the twine coming out of one side of the pipe is on top, and the twine on the other side is on the bottom, just look at the pictures and you can see what I mean, I was almost done with the first section and I realized that every other line was wrong, and had to start all over again. Don't worry about making it super tight at first, wait till its all done, then pull each line tight till its all good, maybe 2 or three times depending on how tight you want it to be. When it's done relish in the fact that you built this thing and no one else has this same piece anywhere else.