How to display my industrial ephemera
March 4, 2016 6:16 AM   Subscribe

I have a sheet of stamped steel, left over from a defunct knife factory, that I'd like to hang on my wall for display. It's 1/8" thick and a little over 8 lbs. The photo shows it leaning against the strip of wall I'd like to hang it on. Any ideas on how to achieve this? My landlord is pretty easy-going, but I'd like to not do anything to the wall that's too hard to reverse.
posted by serathen to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'd make a French cleat by ripping a 1x4 at an angle and then using short lag screws to secure the sheet to the cleat, and heavy duty drywall anchors to secure the other part of the cleat to the wall. If you can put a cleat at top and bottom, even better. (They also sell readymade cleats at hardware stores.) The hardest part will be pre drilling the sheet for the lag screw.

If you don't want to see the lag screw heads on the front of the sheet, you could try using metal cleats and some sort of epoxy. Or just get someone to weld one on for you.
posted by supercres at 6:25 AM on March 4, 2016

Gee, I'd be tempted to see if a magnetic knife rack screwed to the wall would hold it (maybe one at the top and one at the bottom). It would be a very clean look.
posted by BillMcMurdo at 6:33 AM on March 4, 2016 [7 favorites]

Is your question how to frame it, or how to physically support it? Everyone seems to be answering the former, but I think you're asking the latter...

8lbs isn't that much. Here's a random page on how much weight various fasteners can support in drywall, note particularly that your load will be almost entirely shear down-force, where their load has a substantial pulling away from the wall component.

So basically this is: Decide how you want to attach to your steel sheet. I like the magnets idea. Then just use drywall anchors to hold that to the wall. Patching them when you move out is removing the screws and, if you want to be thorough, pulling or unscrewing the anchors, but you could also just put patch over the inset anchor, and touch up the paint.
posted by straw at 7:01 AM on March 4, 2016

I would use some inexpensive mirror clips with some drywall anchors.
posted by axismundi at 7:11 AM on March 4, 2016

I broke my 5+ year lurking streak just to answer this question.

I have two similar sheets of stamped steel, both from the excellent LOOT in Turners Falls, MA. One sheet is much larger and heavier than yours, while the other is a similar weight but dissimilar dimensions. My approach to getting them on the wall was much less involved than the commenters here are suggesting -- I leveled the sheet with an extra set of hands, then I nailed several evenly distributed picture hanging nails in the nooks and crannies of each sheet.

The nails sit at an angle in the wall, about as flush with each sheet as is possible. They are difficult to notice at even a modest distance (though maybe I am blind) and my stuff has been on the wall for 2+ years without issue. No downward creep, no powdery drywall or scuffed walls, no tilting nails, no sudden crashes in the night, etc.
posted by zeee at 7:24 AM on March 4, 2016 [9 favorites]

I would find four simple cabinet handles, in stainless steel. They could have a central core and two prongs. Put them on the wall, just right to suspend that sheet, far enough out from the wall to create shadow play. You can get clear tubing just stiff enough to go over the handle shaft to keep the metal sheet evenly out from the wall.

Google Louis and Company in the Salt Lake Valley, they are a purveyor of tools, fittings and hardware for custom cabinet makers. They might show a variety of drawer pulls and other hardware. To give you ideas. With strong scissors, you can cut a side slit in firm clear tubing so it slips over the cabinet pull handle shaft and makes resistance against the back of your piece, so it stays out from the wall and doesn't rattle.

Wurth louis and company catalogue.
posted by Oyéah at 9:55 AM on March 4, 2016

Or simple boat cleats.
posted by Oyéah at 10:00 AM on March 4, 2016

I'd JB Weld a key hole hanger plate on the back at each corner and then hang on a screw at each top corner sunk into studs or Ez-Ancors.

All of these items can be procured at the local home improvement borg of your choice.
posted by Mitheral at 5:16 PM on March 4, 2016

You bet could use Sugru for this if you placed it at multiple contact points on the back. I have a heavy magnetic knife holder that is attached with Sugru and it has been holding six large knives in place for a long time.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:09 AM on March 5, 2016

One more thing about a piece like this; it is nice if it is at least two inches away from the wall, maybe three. The shadows that a bas relief like this cast, are a nice part of the visual appeal.
posted by Oyéah at 12:22 PM on March 5, 2016

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