Last weekend I attended a welding class at The Steel Yard in Providence. The Steel Yard is kind of an urban version of Yestermorrow. They offer courses in metalworking, ceramics and jewelery. I hoped a welding course would help me make progress with my exploration of using steel for the hubs in my roofing framework. While I picked up a few ideas for hubs, the course, and the instructors, were not really geared to this problem. The lead instructor, Nora Rabins, did have some suggestions about using a mix of aluminum and steel. She also might be able to prototype some steel hubs if I need to do that down the road.
I did become much more familiar with steel and some of the tools available to work with this material which is so essential to our civilization. My favorite tool was a horizontal bandsaw steel cutter that is probably older than me. It was quiet, simple, slow and very effective.
, once you get the hang of it, is quite enjoyable. Most of Saturday was spent receiving instructions and demonstrations about how to use welding, cutting and grinding tools. On Sunday we started off with a project in which we split into two groups and each group had to build half of a bridge that would eventually connect to the other group's half. It was a chance to brainstorm how to connect various shapes of steel and lots of practice with the MIG welders. We collectively produced a delightfully funky structure.
After going through a bit of a funk on Saturday when I realized that I was not going to be able to prototype a steel hub, as the materials to do this just weren't available, I hit on the idea of producing a logo for my organically curved roofing system. I used my iPad and the Paper app to draw the shape I wanted, then rummaged through the available steel inventory for the pieces I'd need.
On Sunday, after we finished the bridge, I used the bandsaw to cut the pieces I needed and then spent some time with a wire brush removing rust from the base plate. I was planning on using the Oxy-Acetylene torch to heat up the bar I needed to curve for the roof line element, but Mark, the class TA, showed me how to bend the piece using a simple bending jig. After I'd bent the roof piece into something like the shape I wanted (I had a limited amount of time before we had to drive back to New York) it took only a few minutes to weld everything together with the MIG. For a first attempt I think it turned out reasonably well.