Another New Tool !

Well, maybe not a tool but at least a new tool cart…

For all you toolies out there, here is my latest invention I have to show you.

In my efforts to streamline the operations in the studio I have realized that I do not need ten of every tool. There is no need to have ten sets of wire cutters when two will do the job.

So I NEEDED to make a tool cart that I could move around the studio and hold all the tools that would be needed in the normal course of fanciful creation!

So off I went to make it happen… just one problem; I didn’t know what tools were needed in the normal course of fanciful creation.


I did know the size and shape of the cart and set about making it. The rest of the details, like where each tool would be held and how they were to be held had to develop as the project progressed.

Well it took about 2 weeks but I got it done… for now. It holds all the smaller metalworking tools… like vise grips (yes I have a lot of vise grips), chisels, hammers, measuring tools, screwdrivers, and what not.



Check it out and let me know if you think there is something that needs to be added.


shirt front s



Banding Ironwork

I am making a series of scroll pieces for a cabinet wall my brother has been commissioned to design and build.  The cabinet has three sections that he has asked me to create rather intricate scroll work with vintage Moorish feel.

   Traditionally,the pieces would have been matched up, aligned and held together by a wrapped band around the joint.  It gave a very distinctive look and actually held together really well.

Here is an example:bands s


All the scrolls and banding are fun to do…but it does take a while to get it done.

Now, if you are a regular reader of my blog, you probably know I love to make tools to help with the job at hand.

And I have been known to spend more time making the tool than I have actually using it!   I am not sure that is wrong…

but it does seem messed up to some folks.

With all that said,  all the joints needed to be banded on this project, so I made a banding tool.

For all you visual people out there… here is a photo:

machine 1s












It is made from a Non Vise Grip (you know the ones you can buy for $4 at the disposal tool store)  I welded ½ inch stock to the jaws so that it can be held in the leg vise and used as an anvil for the bend.


machine 2s







The ½ inch banding strips are cut and clamped into the vise, bent with the hammer, (purest blacksmith would call that “cold forged” I just call it “bent”) and removed.  then you repeat for the other side, resulting in a square sided U.

machine 3s


Then you just do that 150 more times and you are half done. (they have to still be installed.)

To install, each one is placed on a joint, bent around the metal and then welded closed for good measure.

making bands v s

It’s a beautiful effect, and when it’s done it is worth the energy.

Plus you get another tool to paint red and hang on the wall of the studio.


If you make bands, feel free to copy it if you wish.  If you have an improvement, send me a photo.

As always, I would love to hear your comments or observations.

Contact me with the form below or via email at




What Does It Take?

Here is the question for the day.

What does it take to attach a flat plate to the bottom of a post on a handrail?

That may sound like an easy question…and an easier event to make happen.

But for some reason it is not.

The plate needs to be:

Square to the vertical post

Square to the sides of the post so the base is not rotated off center

And centered on the post so the cover will fit over it correctly.

Let me step back and add an explanation.

two pieces

I cover all the anchor bolts on all my handrails as a way of making it look more finished.  And this plate has the holes through which the lag bolts go to screw into the anchor point.

Well, I have delt with it in a number of ways, each with varied success.

So I decided to make a tool!

                 (My regular readers will not be surprised with that statement.)

So here is what I have been using for about 3 years now.  And it works great!photo 4

I started with one of those $3 Chinese knock offs of “vise grips”.  They are perfect for making tools like this job.  I took some pieces of angle iron and mounted them so the tool would grab the end of the post.

Then I determined what was level and square and added wings to steady the punched plate.

I then learned, there needed to be some way to hold the plate in place… so I added small lips to two 3

That’s it.  Sounded easy as I typed it out… but nothing is as easy as it sounds.

But I have done all the figuring out.  All you have to do is copy it , and you are there.

tool side

In use, it is very simple:

Clamp it on the end of the post.

Hold the plate in position, and tack it on.

Remove the clamp and weld it 2

Trust me…it makes the job much easier.

Weld one up and let me know what you think of the design.


I would love to hear your feedback.

You can contact me using the comment form below,  or email me at


What Is It?

Can anyone figure out what is in this photo?


       it is in my studio,

       it is made of metal,

       it is not really art,

But it can still be made with quality craftsmanship….

So    what is it?

Lord of the Rings… in My Studio

I have a young friend who has been learning metal working with me over the past year. 

He started out wanting to make a huge sword he had seen on Lord of the Rings.  I talked him down to making several knives first to learn the process.  He is a fast learner and getting to be a great craftsman.   

Cutting with the plasma torch

Well, he called me the other day and wanted to make some weapon the Orks (?) used in Middle Earth.  (It has a name… I just don’t know what it is, sorry)

I told him to design it, work out all the details, and then we would give it a run.

The finished sword

He did, and I simply showed him some small suggestions and by the end of the day he was done. 

I think it is ready to be coated with Dragon’s blood for protection and sent out into the magical world.

The cool pic

The Process …Part Two

the plan

Last time I started talking about the process I go through while create a piece of work.  

I had worked my way through the design phase and part of the construction phase.

That was the fun part… now I am down to the small detail work phase of the project.

 As you remember, I am making a set of decorative doors for a client.  They will look like a large flower blossom outside her doorway. I have designed, laid out, cut, welded, and built the hinges.  Now I am on to the clean up time.

 The welds were pretty good… looks wise, but I wanted them to be a little nicer, being that it is  her front door.  So out comes a tool called an angle grinder.  (as you have probably figured out it is a grinder, turned at an 90 degree angle)  It is used to grind metal and make a nicer finish. 

I went over the joints and smoothed all of them,  one by one!   But that is what it takes to make something special.  As much as I complain about doing grinding I think it really makes a difference and I always devote time to doing it on each piece. 

The joints turned out well and I was glad I spent the hours making it better.

that's not blood at the top... just sweat



After the grinding is done I then turned my time to the latch.  The client wanted a simple hook and latch type mechanism.  So I drilled a hole through the handle area, inserted a section of round tubing and welded it in place.   The tubing matched the shaft of the handle I had made and would hold it in place.  The latching bar was added to the inside and it was ready to hook into the slot on the left door.  All that sounded very short but in real time it took several hours to make, install, and fine tune.




I then did something I call “touching it”.  I go over each piece and touch each every part of it.  I want to know when my client comes in contact with any part on my work they will be happy and not feel anything rough or sharp.  As I am rubbing each section I use a fine file to remove any burrs of welding spatter.  Its is time consuming but it is well worth it.  

Now I am off to install them in the door frame.  Installation is always a challenge because the door frames are not ever square and the adjustments are always tricky.

Stay tuned for more….

What’s Under That Trap Door?


I thought I would show a tool I have made which is interesting to me, and probably to all other gear heads out there. 

It is a mechanical bender which is made into my main worktable. 

I came up with the idea after a friend showed me a power reducer attached to a tool he had made for his shop.

That got me started thinking of how I bend curves.  I use a jig that is simply two pieces of different size pipe welded to a piece of U channel.  It has served me well for a long time. Many a hard piece of steel has given way to the power of this tool. 

But now that I had seen a new device (new to me at least), I wanted to come up with a funner way to do the bending.

What better way than inventing and making a cool tool.

Some of you may wonder what is so cool about making a new tool.  Well what is so fun about going shopping?  What is so fun about playing basketball?  What is so fun about _________(fill in the blank with our thing).  It’s just fun to do.  We all stand around and talk about ideas and whats and wheres.

Then the hunt for the parts.  Most of us don’t have the cash to just go out and buy all the parts for a project so the scrounging and Ebaying is just part of the deal.

Finally the building starts!

The worktable I put it into was another self made project.  This one is designed after one made by Steve O. and with his help.  It has wheels and can be raised and lowered to contact the floor or be on the wheels.  Great design Steve!   I love the table and thought if I put another tool in it, it would have to be one that did not interrupt the useful design of the table.

3/4 hp/ 117-1 reducer

So the bender was going to completely concealed under the table.  I cut a 4 inch square in the center of the top for the power unit to come through.  The “trapdoor” was replaceable so the table stayed intact.

I had located a power reducer which changed 1750 RPMs into 11 RPMs.  So there was a lot of torque. It had face mount which made mounting

to the motor a breeze.  In no time I had one of those motors in my shop and it worked perfectly.  It was only ¾ hp but the reducer would give it a lot of power.  

All those pieces were bolted together and the power unit was ready to go.

I then made a pretty stiff bracket to hold the unit to the bottom of the table.  Most of it bolted on so I could take it off if needed. 

The real tough questions were 1) how is the unit going to connect with the bender dies?   2) how are the bender dies going to be made?

Another conversation with Steve O. landed the information needed for the attachment.  He suggested we take a piece of six sided stock (I am sure there is a real name for it but I don’t remember) weld it to the top of the reducer thus allowing a 1 ¼ inch deep well socket to drop down over it and hold the parts together.

Then I moved on to designing the dies for the top of the unit. 

I found some pipe of different diameters, cut them into pieces about 3 inches long and made mounts for each one. 

1 1/4 socket welded to each


the far


After about an hour of trying to wire the footswitch (so I could use both hands on the metal) I contacted another friend (who is a lot smarter than I when it comes to electricity) and he quickly adjusted the situation to make it work.  I then talked him into wiring the 2 way directional switch too.   

So now when I want to make a bend all I have to do is select the right size circle, place it on the unit, and step on the switch. 

It works great! 

And was a fun project to build. 

That’s what it’s all about.