Bear Metal Project

I recently had a week of school for my Scaffold Erector/Carpenter apprenticeship program. This time the class was Welding and Cutting. It was nice to do something different, and the shop had a really fun tool, a plasma cutter! This tool cut thin sheets of metal very quickly and accurately, so you could cut things that were fairly intricate, but you had to do it by hand, so still tricky. Since I was new to this, I wasn’t expecting great results, but I was able to tackle something fairly difficult and I felt very satisfied with the outcome.

I wanted to leave class with something cool, so I thought of an idea to incorporate something with my kids’ names. I did an outline of a bear, because my son’s middle name is Bear (we call him Bear and often forget he actually has a different first name). Inside of the bear, I did the silhouette of a fire engulfing a tree, because my daughter’s middle name is Wildfire. I found the image of the bear online and traced it out an a couple pieces of paper roughly the size of the metal I was working with.

I traced the outline onto two sheets of paper.

I traced the outline onto two sheets of paper.

Then I found an image of fire that I thought would work, and traced that also.

I traced the fire image inside the bear.

I traced the fire image inside the bear.

I looked at a picture and drew out a tree in the middle. And added a moon up at the top. I now had a template I could transfer to the metal, the shaded area is what will be cut out.

This is the template I will use on the metal. The shaded area inside will be cut out.

This is the template I will use on the metal. The shaded area inside will be cut out.

The shaded area would need to be cut out on the zsxpaper, carefully, using a blade of exact zero. Then I traced the outline with a sharpie onto the metal.

Tracing outline with sharpie onto the metal plate, still need to cut out middle section to trace that also.

Tracing outline with sharpie onto the metal plate, still need to cut out middle section to trace that also.

Here was the final transfer, ready to try and cut.

Ready to cut.

Ready to cut.

The cutting went quick, and had to be done with a stead hand and a certain amount of confidence. As long as I kept the cutting tool moving, I was ok. If I stopped or paused, I risked not getting a smooth cut. I only had one hiccup really, and it was fixable. Cutting the flames was more difficult, I couldn’t keep it exact to the template, I had to quickly improvise and go more free form with it, but basically kept to the outline, it just couldn’t cut as precisely as I had drawn it out. The tree was actually pretty easy because it naturally has jagged edges and was very forgiving. Below you can see each cut piece, the bottom of course being what was being kept.

This shows everything that was cut.

This shows everything that was cut.

And here is the final piece by itself. I still need to take the grinder to it and probably a wire brush to smooth out the edges and make it more finished, and probably a coat of paint or clear coat to keep it from rusting.

Final cut. Not finished.

Final cut. Not finished.

This was fun and something totally different for me! I’ll probably mount it to barn wood or pallet wood or something and hang it up in the house somewhere. But it’s a nice sentimental piece for the family, and a great opportunity to create something new and different!

j.

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