Paula, the inspiration for this 'Tuesday tools of trade' series came about while I was watching the Youtube video you posted on your blog recently. In the video I watched you use a number of different tools in your creative process. Can you take us through these tools?
The first tool I am using in the video is a chop saw. It has a large blade for cutting metal, ie the pipes I use to make my vases. That particular pipe in the video is the thickest yet, easily 1/2 inch which is really hard to cut and I have to take my time going slowly or else the saw slows to a stop. One day I hope to get a bigger machine so I can cut anything!
The next tool is my old wobbly grinding wheel. This tool was made by a little old man in Vermont; I bought it off him at a garage sale 5 years ago and it has been a faithful companion ever since. This machine is noisy and loud, has no 'on' button (you plug it in and it GOES!) and often wants to jump off the table but I love it and prefer it over the new sleek models you could buy at home depot. It has two wheels: a brush that deburrs and smooths rough surfaces as well as removes some rust and paint. The second wheel is a grinding/cut off wheel that I use to ground down really rough metal. After cutting a pipe there is a lot of sharp slivers of metal I need to remove, I also use this to clean off the top layer of steel if I want to cold weld something as it is more efficient than the wire brush.
When my materials are all clean and smooth I then use a dremel tool to make small 'cuts' into the metal that I need to cold weld. Those cuts ensure that the two pieces of metal 'bond' properly. Dremel tools are amazing! High speed (even faster than my hand drill) and easy to use, they come with an endless array of accessories to use on almost any project you can imagine! I mostly use this tool to make cuts or do more refined grinding when the other grinding tool is just too big to get in there. As for my vases, the only other tool that I use are my hand shears which I use to cut up metal to fit the bottoms of the vases.
My list of other tools include: a table saw, jig saw, miter saw, circular saw, drill press, hand drill and a hand grinder.
Can you give us some sort of indication on the monetary outlay you've had in setting yourself up with the equipment that you have?
I try to buy used tools at garages sales or ebay. I think to date I have only spent $1400 or so on all of these tools. I say only because I know when I get more metal working tools I could be spending thousands!
Maintenance of your tools must be ongoing. What special care and/or cleaning is required to keep them in optimal working order?
So far the maintenance is minimal if non-existent. I honestly don't know what I'm supposed to do to my old/used machines other than occasionally cleaning bushings or oiling them and that's something my boyfriend does when a tool isn't working properly. The most expensive part is the buying of blades/drill bits and accessories. Blades can cost anywhere from $7 to $20 as well as drill bits; that is what I end up going through the most.
What sort of safety gear is necessary when using your equipment?
I always wear goggles. ALWAYS. I've had specks fly in my eye and that is the last thing I want to happen. I even wear goggles when I paint, you never know what is going to splatter or where it is going to go. Leather gloves for cutting, latex for painting. Face mask when cutting big pieces of metal, ear plugs and mouth mask to protect from noise and fumes. I should probably wear better body protection when cutting stuff but it's hot and I still wear shorts and t-shirts.
Photo of Paula when she lived in Vermont working on art in the garage.
If you could own any kind of tools that aren't related to your own craft what would they be?
mmmmm. Not related to my craft? I have no idea Kerrin. Art is pretty much my day in and day out so everything feels related to that. I feel unimaginative all of a sudden!