Friday, December 14, 2012

Metal forming at TechShop Round Rock

Last week I took the Organic Sheet Metal class at the new TechShop location in Round Rock, Texas, north of Austin.  Our instructor, Matt Quinn of Pipeworx, taught us the basic use of the mallet and sandbag, slapper, T dollies, shrinker, stretcher, english wheel and planishing hammer.  We all formed a bowl shape from 22 ga 3003 aluminum.  I was pretty happy with what I made.
I was really looking forward to learning to use these tools and I enjoyed it so much that I bought a 4x4' sheet of 16 ga (0.063") aluminum the next day and went back to techshop.

I cut a 12x12" square and went straight to work on my second bowl.  I still have a lot to learn but I really like the art of forming sheetmetal.  I plan to make a few more bowls, adding a new challenge/feature to each bowl I make.  My next bowl will be deeper and have a horizontal flange on the outside of the rim of the bowl.  After that I want to figure out how to make/leave a flat spot in the middle bottom of the bowl so it can sit stable.  I've got a few more ideas beyond basic bowls before I move on to a new rear fender for my motorcycle.

I took pictures at each step of making bowl #2.
12x12x.063" plate

After cutting the corners off with the beverly shear.

After using both sides of the mallet.  I also worked the edge with the shrinker.

This is after using the english wheel for the first time.

Above you can see I used the shrinker again.

This was after more shaping on the english wheel.

 After using the planishing hammer.  Then I went back to the english wheel.

 I'm losing track here, but I think the above image is after more planishing.

 This would be after using the english wheel again to soften up the metal.

I wanted the bowl to be deeper, so i used the mallet and bag again to start the process over.

And here it is after using the shrinker again.  This time I made two full rotations on the shrinker.  First at the full depth of the jaws, then at half the depth.  And actually I think I made a third rotation at 1/4 the depth of the jaws to really flare out the lip of the bowl.

This is after more time in the english wheel.

After more planishing.

Here's where I stopped.  I tried to trim the lip and even it out, but there were a few really low spots and I didn't want to go crazy trimming.  I want to make the next bowl deeper so I have more room to trim down the lip.

 This took me about 2.5 hours.


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