Kinetic Metal Art

April 25, 2020

BY Stainless Joe    

Kinetic Tree Project:

Having completed several metal art railings I must say that metal art is much more rewarding than regular fabrication. So far I have completed, the Cat railing, Geisha railing, Odin railing, Isis railing, and started on the Freya railing. In my spare time I completed other metal art projects mostly small projects but one project challenged me so that is what I would like to talk about today.

Metal Art fabrication of a kinetic tree. The tree was a challenge because I used a thick 16 gauge flat decorative stainless steel plate which is a lot harder to form than mild steel. I found using a torch and an automotive hand held power hammer worked great forming the metal around the frame. My last tree trunk was made from strips of metal cut and welded on top of each other around the frame forming the tree. The Kinetic part of the project is the top which spins on a wheel hub, balanced of course. The birds were cut by a waterjet company and the rods were rolled on our roller in the shop.

The challenges I faced on this project were:

1) will the hub be good enough to allow the top to spin.

2) will the tree be code compliant for South Florida Hurricanes.

3) How will I form the flat plate around the internal frame.

4) Will the top be too heavy stopping it from spinning. 

As I worked through all of these questions I had to engage an engineer for a wind load test, researched South Florida codes to be compliant, go online to get ideas on how to form the tree trunk, interestingly enough I found that not many artists were forming the tree trunk out of flat plate making it look like one molded piece of metal. Sure a lot were rolling plates welding them together but to form a flat Stainless steel plate around a frame was a challenge and this is why I decided to go in this direction with the trunk. On the next tree I will set up a hydraulic bench press so I can heat and form the metal using steel bars instead of by hand simply because the tree trunk took a long time to complete. After working through all the above question I am happy to say the tree is completed and ready for paint. Follow up pictures will be next month after it is installed. Till next time thank you for reading, if you have questions just call or email me. 

Metal Art south Florida, Stainless steel Joe.