What are good resources for intermediate metalworking?
December 1, 2013 3:27 PM   Subscribe

MetalFilter: I can measure, chop, & weld. What's next? I took a class in metalworking (metal furniture fabrication) and came out of it with some cool projects: a frame for hanging an art print, a metal storage crate, a sculpture that spins. I'd like to take the class again (mostly for open access to the metal shop). But before I do, I'd like to go in with more direction, a bigger vocabulary, and plans for what I want to build. I have no previous mechanical / shop experience, so it's all still pretty new to me. But here's what I'd like to know more about:

–engineering for furniture (structure, stability, strength, form)
–hardware (joining, mounting)
–working more with sheet (bending/forming)
–lighting / basic circuitry

Here are the tools I worked with:
–chop saw, dry cut saw
–band saw
–plasma cutter
–beverley shear
–jump shear
–angle grinder
–die grinder
–pedestal grinder
–drill press
–MIG welder (there's a TIG also, which I didn't learn to use)
–pop riveter

There are also some torches and benders (both sheet and pipe) that I'd like to learn how to use.

So far, these books have been recommended:
Metal: Forming, Forging, & Soldering
The Complete Metalsmith

What are some good additional resources to take my cutting / welding to the next level? Books, online resources & communities, software, classes/centers/programs, places in and around NYC, & other general advice are all welcome. Thanks!
posted by inkytea to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (3 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Can you learn TIG? It's a whole different beast and will open you up to fine little intricate welds. TIG is awesome, I love TIG.
posted by WeekendJen at 4:39 PM on December 1, 2013

From an engineering stand point, you might want to check out Khan Academy for the basics on trigonometry and statics. Trig helps in finding out the length of different members without having to guess. Statics would help in gaining an understanding of how geometry relates to forces in a structure. Both of those are a little far reaching if you are just wanting to build stuff. You can easily guess, and get usable results.

Also some 3D modeling software or CAD software might help plan what you want to build. Google Sketchup seems to be popular with hobbyist, and easy to learn. Also there is DraftSight which is a more traditional 2D CAD package that is free.

A book on machine design or Machinery's Handbook might also be interesting to you. I would recommend checking these out at a library first though as they can be expensive, and you can probably gain the most in short burst readings with note taking. A machine design book (I have Shigley's Mechanical Engineering Design) would give more explanation. Machinery's Handbook expects more proficiency in different subjects. Both will be rather advanced.

When I have a new hobby, I always look for an Internet forum on the topic. I am sure Hobart (welding machine manufacturer) has a pretty active welding forum, and I imagine you would pick up quite a bit just reading through some threads. Also, it might be fun to see other people's projects.
posted by ohjonboy at 9:21 AM on December 2, 2013

Excellent answers, both. I know that TIG allows for more control and broader range (this was the first thing I tried to learn, and I have a crappily put-together hunk of metal to show for it). I'll give it another shot once I'm back in the shop.

And statics, this is the word I've been looking for. For some reason, I thought that the Machinery's Handbook was all about milling. I've definitely got some direction now, thanks!
posted by inkytea at 11:31 AM on December 3, 2013

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