What is Metal Working?

Welding is an industrial process that has been in common use for a little more than 100 years. Welding is dependent on an established electrical grid for its power source, so the two grew up side by side. In an incredibly short time, welding and metal work in general have come to dominate our material lives. We are surrounded by steel sheet metal of the type I use to make my Artwork. All of your kitchen appliances, your washer and dryer, the family automobile, are made from sheet metal. 

metal working welding

Carbon Steel is the basic building block of the metals industry. It is the molten material poured from the giant crucibles with no additional alloys or hardening procedures involved. Steel is separated from iron by a fractional amount of carbon that allows steel the incredible tensile strength that makes it so useful for building our civilization. I use sheet metal in 20ga, which is about the thickness of the older model cars, like your father’s Buick from the 50’s and 60’s. Sheet metal has a remarkable property of having a slippery cellular structure that allows it to be hammered into compound curves without fracturing. In addition, most metals can be joined by heat alone unlike wood or ceramic or fabric that requires an adhesive or mechanical fastener. 

1950s car

Most industrial processes use large presses to pound the metal into the desired shape in one shot. The machine is set up to produce many parts per hour. My work is closer to medieval craftsmanship that requires a hammer to mold the metal into the desired shape over a period of time. The skill involved is knowing where, in what sequence and how hard to strike the metal. In that sense, nothing has changed since the 12th century when armored knights were covered head to foot in chainmail and steel plate. The English long bow changed all that, but that is another story.

knights in chain mail

I am able to use some modern tools and a lot of older techniques to make unique Artworks that are very light and strong, and last for generations.