So, normally here at jet-point we’re devoted to talking about bamboo, its history and modern day uses, but today we’re taking a digression to document a recent metal working project. The primary purpose of the project was to learn some metal (mig) welding skills, and some finishing skills working in steel.

So, the three pictures above are the finished piece so that we have an idea of where we’re going. These were taken on my balcony back when I was living in tribeca (manhattan, new york, new york). Here’s a bonus shot of my view from that (exceedingly overpriced) apartment:

Ok, so the idea of the pieces was to create three one foot cubes that would intersect at oblique angles and be sort of stacked upon each other. If I remember correctly, I ended up use 1/8″ plate steel cut into eighteen individual one foot squares (three one foot by one foot by one foot cubes multiplied by six one foot square faces per cube). Here’s an in-process picture:

The big problem turned out to be one of geometry. In order to make the cubes intersect I actually had to cut various triangles out of the sides:

I don’t know why I found it so challenging to figure out what the sizes of the triangles that needed to be cut out were, but I did. (This probably explains why I’m pretty unlikely to go into differential gometry.) Anyway, I started out trying to draw the appropriate triangles on engineering paper:

That turned out to be a major fail because… well, because I’m an idiot. Finally, I had to call in the big guns. My architect friends from undergraduate. With expert architectural assistance we finally arrived at some shapes that were workable:

Then, there was the final job of welding all of the existing cubes with triangle cut outs together. The task was to get them to stay in place long enough, touching along the cut out triangles, so that I could actually get a mask on and weld along the seem where the triangles were touching. Here are some pictures of the piece in the shop:

Sadly, I don’t have any photos of the final steps. In order to go from the welded pieces in the shop above to the rusted out looking sculpture on my balcony, the first step was to use a small angle grinder with 200 grain sand paper to sand down the entire thing, and sand off all of the weld marks. This took a long time since I’m not that good with an angle grinder and kept making mistakes. Also I had some thought of coating it with some sort of clear sealant to keep the metal shiny, in which case the actual marks of the sanding process would remain visible and be critical to the overall appearance of the sculpture. Of course, it turns out that I didn’t follow that plan and let the whole thing rust out on my balcony, so being careful was probably unnecessary.

Anyway, that’s the story of the whole project. I also undertook a blacksmithing project, which maybe I’ll make a blog post about at some point in the future.