Gears,Sprockets,Nuts and Bolts For Industrial Chic Metal Art


Buying Surplus Industrial Goods

There are many ways to score randomnuts,bolts, gears and such.  But certainly one of the best and most fun is industrial surplus suppliers.  Many of them sell used parts and equipment at reasonable prices.  The score I displayed above comes from an operation called Equipment Resale out of Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Although it is 106 miles from home, its well worth the drive.  A couple weeks ago, I went there and was thoroughly impressed with the abundance of selection!


Small to HUGE Bolts and Nuts

Just to illustrate the sheer range of nuts and bolt sizes, I seen some bolts more than 2 inches thick and weighing every bit of 20  pound s a piece!  Obviously structural bolts for bridges and buildings.  They have sizes all the way down to the commonly used sized found in most home improvement stores.  They charge by the pound so take a bucket.


Gears and Sprockets

Along with an impressive selection of nuts,bolts, and related hardware, they also stock machine gears,sprockets, chains, and pulleys.  If not for art, you may find enough here to build your own machinery!  The gear in the picture is in their entrance area and stands 6 feet tall.  Probably, it is 6 to 8 inches thick and weighs a few tons.  Most of the money I spent in my first haul was for the gears I got.  They charged me flat fee of $5.  All the bolts and fasteners I got were just $13.


Industrial Desk Organizer

My first creation was this Industrial Desk Organizer.  The center piece is a huge hex nut about 5 inches across.  It seems to add a substantial solid quality to this functional sculpture.  I also plan to be making some shelf brackets and door pulls in the near future.  I am open to suggestions for my creations.


Treasures From Trash:Getting the most from a Find Part 2


Mid Century Style From Repurposed Steel Rods

On my first installment of Treasures From Trash, I talked about the wine rack/table I found in a local dumpster.  I discussed how I burned it to remove the woven material and cut the metal to separate the ring panels.  In the photos, you will see that the empty frame consist mostly of straight rods.  I cut this frame to gather the rods and had a pretty decent bundle.  Well they ended up being used in the sculpture above.  It is mid century with a industrial chic twist.  I roughly laid out the rods in a crisscross pattern and arc welded the rear to conceal the welds.img_3796

Welded on Accents

I felt that the composition needed some simple accents to develop interest.  I cut 6 slugs from some thick walled small diameter pipe.  I welded them strategically near the center of the composition and felt it was well balanced.


Mounted Any Way You Like

I often make wall pieces that can be mounted in more than one configuration.  This rod artwork is particularly suited to mount either horizontally or vertically.  To see dimensions and shipping options check out the link to this item in my Etsy shop.

Treasure From Trash: How Discarded Metal Home Furnishings Get A New Life Part I



Discarded Metal Home Furnishing

One this about living where I do is that we have community dumpsters.  As a metal artist, I often look at new metal stock and  visualize metal art compositions.  Other times I pass a dumpster and see a discarded metal object and I snag the opportunity.   I am not sure if this was a magazine rack or a wine bottle holder.  Feel free to comment if you know.  All I knew was there was already a bunch of perfect rings that were screaming for a new lease on life.


Removing Woven Material

Once I acquired this item from the dumpster,  I was already designing wall decor in my mind.  With that in mind, I saw no use in keeping any of the woven top featured in photo above.  Now I could have used a grinder or hammer and chisel to break through.  It was pretty warm out and thought all that labor was little bit much.


Into The Fire Pit!

I had some old bills and documents. So I put the woven table upside down in the fire pit and then the bills as kindling.  Poured kerosene until the a paper was soaked and the woven material was damp.  I lit it with a min torch.  The woven material was gone in less than 2 minutes.


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Metal On Fire

Aside from looking completely awesome, this fire served three useful purposes.  One, I got rid of a stack of papers that cluttered a shelf in my dining area.  Two,  I wanted to remove the woven material from the metal frame without using cutting tools.  It is fact made from a plant based fiber material and was quite dry so it combust rapidly and easily.  Third, there was a flat black paint on the metal frame.  The heat breaks down the larger organic molecules in the paint into smaller ones.  This makes the paint and any primer underneath easily removed with a wire brush.  Although fire can be very dangerous if misused, it is very handy when working with steel and other metals with high melting points.

Ring Panels Removed

Afer everything cooled down I had only a metal framework to deal with.  It turns out I have useful patterns and components for  a few artistic creations.  I got my 4.5″ grinder out and began to cut the welds joining the ring panels to the rectangular frame.  Despite the number of cuts, the rods are only 1/4″ to maybe 5/16″ thick so this process went by quickly.  I found myself with two ring panels roughly 17 inches wide and 26 inches long.  My next task was to take a wire brush to the ring panels.


Most of the paint came off but there is some residue.  That is of little concern, since I only need an electrical connection for arc welding.  Once I get the accessory pieces welded and joined on, I will repaint this flat black again anyways.




Using Threaded Studs for Mounting Metal Wall Art



Welding Studs On Metal Sculpture

Previously, I wrote about cutting longer bolts with hacksaw to make headless studs.  These studs where intended to be welded onto a sculpture or a fixture so fasteners could be threaded on.  In the example shown here, the four studs I made mentioned in the previous post are being welded on the back of a bolt sculpture so it can be fastened to a background plate.


Protect The Threads When Welding Studs And Bolts!

Since I will be using flux-cored arc welding process, there will be some spatter and this can damage the threads on the studs I made.  The picture above shows three nuts covering almost the entire length of thread.  And since I want to reuse these nuts for mounting, I will need to protect them too.  One trick I learned by research and trial and error is to cover with masking tape.


Masking Tape for Added Protection

Now when the stud is actually welded in place, it is very likely the tape will catch on fire.  Simply blow it our or let it stop. There will not be spatter and the threads will be preserved.

Ok so now it is time to mount these studs on a art work I recently assembled.  I took one stud and clamped it to one side of the angle iron so I can mount it at a right angle.



I wire brushed the weld and repeated the process three more times.  Once all is welded.  I can mounted the welded art to a predrilled plate with an offset distance of my choosing based on how I space it with nuts.


Here is the WELCOME sculpture made from bolts test mounted on a predrilled tread plate.  After I glued on some support brackets made from square tubing, I painted both parts separately for the finished work displayed below.  If interested just check out the link to this item in my Etsy shop.


Cutting Bolts With A Hacksaw To Make Studs



Why Cut Bolts?

There are a few reasons why you may choose to cut a bolt.  One may be that you need and unusual length that is just not mass produced and too expensive to have it custom made.  Another reason, is you could be needing a certain bolt length on a weekend, holiday or a weird hour of the night.  In that case, it might be more practical, for example, cut a 4 inch bolt down to a 2 inch bolt rather than suspend a project just to by the right length of bolt.  A third reason, one most concerned with here, is you need a threaded stud to weld into a project and need the bolt head removed.


Secure Bolt Into A Vice

When setting up to cut a bolt, first you have to tightly secure it so it will not move while the teeth of the hacksaw blade are cutting into it.  If you need to protect the threads from damage, the easiest thing to do is screw on two of the appropriate sized nuts.  When all the corners of the hex nuts line up, you simply put the assembly into the vice and tighten it.  Square nuts might actaully be a little easier for this technique.  Now you may notice the bolt has some play and will spin within the nuts.  This is especially true if you are dealing with the SAE coarse threaded hardware.  It is imperative that you fully secure the bolt still or the hacksaw blade will not have a chance to cut.

As seen from the photo above, a simple solution to the problem of securing the bolt is to clamp vice grip pliers on the head of the bolt and hold with one hand.  Then one simply needs  to use the other hand to operate the saw.  Make sure the teeth are pointing away from you and use at a downward angle fashion.  The video below will give you a better visual of this.



Quality Of The Hacksaw Cut

You may ask, why would I want to use a hacksaw anyways if there are so many powerful power tools available that will do the job quicker and with less labor?  The quick answer is quality and precision of the cut.  Abrasive wheels used in power saws and grinders have a thicker curf as not necessarily making a clean cut.  Reciprocating saws are bulky and are notorious for being inaccurate.  Portable bandsaws are also cumbersome and expensive.  A hacksaw, even a good brand, is usually less than $20, is light weight, and the blade can be installed in other configurations allowing cuts from unusual angles.  The replacement blades are very cheap also.  As seen from above photo, the cut needs minimal dressing with sandpaper or a file.


Keep Remaining Bolt Heads

I feel it is best to keep the left over bolts for later use.  In the case of the studs I was making for a project, the left overs where nearly two inches long.  These can be reused as makeshift pins for temporary securing devices and fixtures, or as blanks for threading new screws.  So each four inch bolt I cut has the potential to become two separate fasteners.

Cyrillic Charactor Welded Nail Custom Order



Just before the Memorial Day weekend, I got a custom request from a client on Etsy.  She stated that she had some artwork from years ago and the guy passed on and she could not find anyone still producing artwork with cut masonry nails.  The request she had for me was quite unusual in that she wanted text in a language I do not know.  The text she requested was in Cyrillic which is the alphabet for Russia and eastern Europe.  The text in the two pieces put together say Mir Bozji, or English translation, “God’s Peace”.

This work was a real turning point in my nail art.  There were several bends needed and these were done with the torch heating the nails to bright red heat then hand bent with pliers.  To see this sculpture and more visit my Etsy shop.


Threading Metal Part 1


Years ago, I worked for a conveyor company and I learned a few metal working skills.  One of the more useful skills was threading pre-drilled holes.  Threading blind or through holes is called tapping.  With this technique,  you can have a threaded hole where ever it may be needed.  You can use bolts, screws, and threaded rods to fasten metal, wood or plastic to the object with the threaded hole.

The way it works, is you drill a hole with recommended size of drill bit and then you usually tap by hand.  Typically, you turn the tap in the hole about a half turn clockwise then backing off a quarter turn to clear chips generated.  It can be a slow process but it is worth the effort and patience.

Usually when I finish the initial tapping,  I completely remove tap from threaded hole and reinsert it to clean up the shavings and chips.  Then I test with a bolt of the same diameter and thread count.


The photo above shows me testing my angle iron bracket with a 2 1/2″ long 3/8-16 thread hex bolt.  I have completed four of these now an am ready to assemble my table.  That is the reason I enjoy tapping despite its labor intensive qualities.  Not only are you able to create strong cold connections in metal, but you can make your own personalized hardware for your next project.