This was made from something near to indestructable! It's made from a WW2 merlin piston. It was found in a field in Essex, likely from a crashed spitfire - you can see the dents in the piston from the impact.
It all very nice having a merlin piston sitting in your house, but I always think its much better if things can have a use too.
4000 'official' ashtrays were made out of merlin pistons and sold in aid of the RAF (you can read more if you google "merlin piston ashtray"). So I thought that was a good idea, and that's what would become of mine - without the engravings.
It can be used as a coin tray, or as an ash tray. It is perfect for an ashtray as you can hold your cigarette or pipe in the recessed connection points.
Merlin pistons aren't cheap, but you could use any piston you wanted and follow the same process!
Date Made: Feb 2013
Approx Cose: £70
Approx Time: 1-2 hours (depending on your tools)
Step 1: Acquire Piston
Like I said, this is from a WW2 merlin engine, so the piston wasnt cheap, but it came from ebay.
You can use any piston you want; buy it new, buy it scrap, or even turn your own!
Step 2: Strip Piston
You just want the piston head, so you need to remove the con rod, piston rings and anything else yours may have left over.
Depending on your piston, you may need a hydraulic press to remove the connecting 'wrist pin' from between the piston head and the con rod, or it might just be some circlips in a recess.
here is a video that covers both types: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4e7PNzbTzY
I don't have the right tools for the job, so got my local engineers to do it (as well as the following steps), hence why I dont have intermediate step photos.
Step 3: Cut Piston Head
You need to cut the top off the piston head.
Ideally you want to do it halfway through the hole where the con rod was pinned.
You could do this with a disk cutter or something, but if you want a straight cut then you need a decent band saw.
Again, I dont have the right tools, so got my local engineers to do this.
Step 4: Polish
I decided that I would get the outside polished, but leave the inside mottled.
This can be done with a dremel or some 'bigger' tools.
Again, I dont have the right tools for the job, and it was in the shop anyway, so my local engineers did this too. They actually did it by turning them in a lathe instead of polishing them.
Step 5: Enjoy
You can use it as I described in the intro, or you can use it as an ornament and tell people where it came from!!!