Intro: Scrap Metal Planter
I'm an artist who welds sculpture from scrap metal, mostly old car parts, but also tools and really whatever I can get my hands on! This instructable is meant to show the way I made my planter, from parts to finish.
Step 1: Safety
I figured I should start off by saying that when I work on sculpture, I always use protective gear. I prefer to use a leather welding jacket an apron because they are less likely to catch on fire, and yes I'm speaking from experience. My welding hood belonged to my father, he was a pipeline welder for years. It has an auto darkening lens, which is just awesome! As always, got to have that hearing protection because most of these sculptures require a lot of grinding which is very loud.
Step 2: Parts
I made this planter out of some scrap car parts I had stored up, an a pipe cap my father gave me. The leaves of the planter are made from the lobes of camshafts that I've cut up. The stem is a connecting rod from a 307 Chevy V8 that someone had given me. Not in the picture is the gear that will serve as the base of the planter, I believe its from an old transmission.
Step 3: Cleaning the Stem
The connecting rod had seen some weather, so it was pretty rusty on the surface.To get the rust off, I used the 3M rust an paint remover wheel, it works great! After I got a fair amount of the rust off, I switch to a steel wire brush wheel to get into the nooks and crannys. It cleaned up pretty nice, in my opinion.
Step 4: More Prep
Most of the time spent on making sculptures, in my case, is cleaning and prepping the metal. After cleaning up the connecting rod, I cut the wrist pin off. After that I ground all the paint off of the outside of my pipe cap. For this I just used a regular grinding wheel. I also cut and cleaned the camshaft lobes, but I forgot to take a picture of that.
Step 5: Smoothing It Out
Once everything has been ground to the bare metal, I always like to go back over everything with a flap disc. The flap disc is used to smooth out and blend the lines and marks from the regular grinding disc. Flap discs also take a lot of metal off of the work piece very fast.You can see on the pipe cap and the camshaft lobes the before and after with the flap disk.
Step 6: Putting It Together
After everything is nice and smooth, its time to fire up the welding machine! I have been using my grandpa's old engine driven welder from the 60's because I don't have a shop to work in anymore. The rods I used were 7018 welding rods, they can be a little frustrating to get the hang of in the beginning but once you get used to them they are great. Now these welds are not the prettiest welds, but that is what grinders are for. Most of the time what messes with the welds is contamination, in this case engine oil. Steel an iron are porous, combine that with being soaked in oil for 30+ years, the oil is in the metal. This means that when you melt the metals during the process of welding the engine oil gets in the mix and contaminates the weld. After welding pieces together, I take a regular grinding disc and go over the welds, then smooth it out with the flap disk. Once that is all done I take sand paper and get in all the little spots to clean the dirt and slag.
Step 7: The Finished Product
After much sanding and grinding, when the piece is finished, I coat my sculptures in a clear engine enamel to keep them from rusting. One of the leaves broke of while I was sanding the planter, an it was raining so I was unable to go outside and weld it back on. Despite this setback I think it turned out great, but I will eventually weld the leaf back on in the future. Hope you enjoyed this Instructable, have a good day!