I have always thought sculptures made from scrap metal look pretty cool and would be fun to try to make. I decided to make a mammoth skeleton since they are fairly basic and seemed like a good place for a beginner to start. Unfortunately, I don't have a welder or a pile of scrap metal to pick from so I improvised. All the parts I used can be purchased at a hardware store, and I used a quick drying epoxy to attach everything. I spent a lot of time studying pictures to get an idea of the shape of the different bones and then went to the hardware store to find parts that would match.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Pliers, vice grips, hammer, tin snips, hacksaw
1 1/4", 2", and 3" common nails - assorted
6" spikes - 2
Chain - approximately 7" long
1/2", 3/4", 1", and 1 1/4" screws - a couple of each
3/16" wire rope clip and thimble set - 1
1/4" wire rope clip and thimble set - 1
2 1/4" bolts - 8
Nuts to fit the bolts - 4
Bead chain - approximately 3" long
1/8" chain quick link - 1
1/4" aluminum cable sleeve - 1
Quick setting epoxy
1/2" loomex connector - 1 (found in electrical supplies)
1 hole conduit strap - 3 (also in electrical section)
Picture frame hanger - 2
Gun blue or paint - optional
Step 2: Make the Spine
Start by securing each link of the chain with epoxy. This will be the spine of the mammoth so make sure it is in the shape you want it before it dries. Mammoths had sloping backs and large shoulder humps caused by the vertebrae getting taller towards the front of their body so curve the chain downward towards the rear end and curve it up a bit at the end the skull attaches to. Use a generous amount of epoxy here, as it will be supporting a fair amount of weight.
Next add the screws in ascending order along the spine to create the shoulder hump.
Step 3: Ribcage
Use the pliers and vice grips to bend the nails into a curved shape, like a rib. Cut some of them shorter so that you will have a variety of sizes and your ribcage will get smaller as it goes towards the back of the body.
Use something to support the nails in the position you want and attach them along the spine.
Mammoths had 20 ribs per side but I only put in 14. Most pictures I looked at didn't seem to have all of the ribs present so I skipped some as well as this is the most tedious part of the project.
Step 4: Pelvis
Use the 1/2" loomex connector and the 3/16" rope thimble for this part. Bend the rope thimble apart enough so that it will fit over the connector and attach it in place. Then attach this assembly to the rear of the spine.
Take apart one of the 3/16" wire rope clips and attach the U shaped bolt to the back of the loomex connecter on a downward angle. Epoxy each of the beads on the bead chain so it holds its shape and then connect it to the back of the loomex connector above the U shaped bolt.
Step 5: Legs
Put the nuts on the end of four of the bolts and attach a nail to the side of each. Then attach the other four bolts to these at a slight angle. This makes the legs. Attach the rear legs to the pelvis.
Attach the front legs to the 1/4" wire rope clip (these will be the shoulder blades) and then attach the rope clips to the ribcage.
I didn't put any toes on because you won't see the feet when it is on the shelf I am planning on keeping it on but you could likely use some small screws for this if desired.
Step 6: Skull
Take apart the other 3/16" wire rope clip and attach the saddle to the aluminum cable sleeve as shown. This forms the nasal cavity of the skull. Next attach the chain quick link to the back of the saddle at a slight angle. It should protrude out on each side a bit to form the eye sockets.
Use the 6" spikes to make the tusks. Cut the heads off the spikes with the hacksaw and then bend them into shape. This is probably the hardest part of the project. Find something solid and heavy to hold the spike in and then hit it with the hammer to bend it. A good heavy vice would likely work great but I don't have one so I ended up putting it in a hole in the cast iron base of my drill press. Once they are shaped how you want them insert the tusks into the cable sleeve.
Bend one of the conduit straps into the shape shown and cut the ends off of two more. Use these to make the top and sides of the skull. I also used a bent nail and a couple bent washers to fill in some gaps on the under side of the skull. Attach the skull to the spine.
Step 7: Lower Jaw
Use the U shaped bolt and nuts from the wire rope clip you took apart to form the lower jaw. Remove the triangle piece from the picture frame hangers and attach the remaining piece to the sides of the U shaped bolt. Attach this assembly to the bottom of the skull.
Step 8: Color
I wasn't happy with the color of the completed mammoth. I wanted a darker, aged look to it, not shiny and new. Also, the epoxy was darker than I expected and stood out too much. So I got some gun blue from a sporting goods store and put a coat of that on to give it a dark, tarnished look. Unfortunately, the bluing doesn't work on aluminum which is what the cable sleeve is made of so I just ended up coloring that piece with a permanent marker and wiping it off, leaving it a little darker. Same with the tail as it was chrome plated. Alternatively, you could just paint the whole thing to your liking.
And that is all. I hope this inspires you to make something of your own.
Participated in the
Big and Small Contest