The Shed Logo
Search
Close this search box.

Metalwork

Going glamping

What do you do if you want a caravan but drive a Mini? You make one to fit. That’s just what Michael Wolfe of New Plymouth did – turning out a real dinky little teardrop-shaped caravan that matches his 2004 Cooper S and has all the mod cons for a decent holiday.
Michael saw pictures of little campers on the net and decided that was what he wanted – a cross between a caravan and a tent.
“I got some ideas from little caravans online and decided to go a bit more high-tech,” he says.
He built it to have the same lines, wheels and colour as his car and it looks just the part.
“I never really planned it in detail. I sketched it out originally and a lot of the construction I worked out as I went along.”

READ MORE »

Cutting threads by hand

From time to time in the home workshop, you may need to make a new threaded hole for a bolt and create the threads on the bolt itself. It’s handy to know how to use the dies that are rotated onto a bolt blank to make these threads, and to know how to use the taps that create the threaded holes. This skill will be especially good for those interested in model engineering, go-karts or light engineering, but who have not been trained in the use of hand tools for making threads. 
There are many different thread sizes. These are made to international standards. In all cases, the size of a thread eg, 6mm or ½ inch and so on, is determined by the diameter of the rod or bar on which it may be cut.

READ MORE »

Up the wall

A friend loves gardening and has always wanted a vertical garden or ‘living wall’. She has been pestering me to build one ever since I started doing the welding articles for The Shed. I looked at a few and developed a simple concept that is simply an angle iron frame with a wire lattice.
I measured the wall it was to fit on and arrived at a final size of 1m x 1.6m. I
happened to have that on hand in 3mm angle iron. The vertical garden needs
to be offset to the wall to allow for air circulation and watering. I decided to offset it
by 60mm so that required 100mm feet.

READ MORE »

Video of Austins Foundry’s final pour

This is video of a family firm that has provided a good living for at least two generations, building up an impressive skills base while manufacturing essential farm machinery for more than 90 years. The Austin family has run a foundry in Timaru for 93 years. Ken Austin, grandson of the founder, says the business has faced increasing headwinds since the Covid-19 pandemic, so he has tested the winds of change and decided to close down. The Shed visits to celebrate their technical foundry skills, the likes of which we may never see again in New Zealand.

READ MORE »

It’s all a matter of scale

They say variety is the spice of life. So it is in the shed. For Taranaki mechanical design engineer Michael Wolfe this means working on projects as diverse as rebuilding a high- powered 1970 American muscle car through to intricate work creating a model of a classic Swiss 1960s train.
Michael re-builds and maintains full-size classic cars and in his spare time model railway construction keeps him busy.
“The skills needed are much the same,” said Michael. “It’s really all a matter of scale.”
His hand-made creation of a replica of an iconic Swiss electric train, the RAe TEE II, is unique – probably the only one in the world.
Panel construction, lathe work, welding, woodworking, and even creating parts with a 3D printer have all been part of the job. In the world of model trains, this is a big one. Each of the six cars that make up the luxury train is about 800mm long.
Michael started off with some plans, photographs of full-size trains, and books, all of which he used to create initial drawings.

READ MORE »

Make yourself a decent chef’s knife

Coromandel knife-maker Lloyd Franklin forges his knives from the raw material of coil spring steel rather than cutting or grinding the blades from existing metal shapes. His high-quality knives are sought after by chefs nationwide and by those who appreciate a well-balanced hand-made tool.
Coil spring steel is easily confused with spring steel that we know from a car leaf spring, says Lloyd Franklin. But, he explains, coil spring steel is a high-tech, shock-resisting tool steel from which you can happily make stone-working tools, woodworking chisels or even knives.

READ MORE »

Steely eye

One glance around Allan O’Loughlin’s garden and it’s clear that this is the home of someone with a vivid imagination and the creative skills to bring it to life.
Allan, a fitter-welder and self-taught sculptor, uses the skills learnt in his trade to create works of art in steel. More than 60 of them are scattered around the 9000 square metre property he shares with his partner, Andrea, in Mandeville, 25km north of Christchurch.
Unlike most artists working in the medium, Allan doesn’t construct his sculptures by bolting or welding solid metal shapes together, but relies on the properties of molten steel to mould and fuse his forms.
His initial frameworks are simple structures made out of wire and builders’ reinforcing rods which he curves into shape using heat and a home-built metal former.

READ MORE »

Make a model sheetmetal roller

Isn’t it always the case—you are working away in the shed with the latest project and you need some equipment or tool that you don’t have? I needed to roll some metal for the model project that I am working on and I had recently lost my access to a metal-rolling machine. The best answer was to make my own sheet-metal roller. I quickly realised there were a lot more future projects needing a rolling machine.

READ MORE »

Raising the bar

I have wanted to make an elevating bar stool for some time. They are a relatively simple design – four legs attached to a nut through which an acme thread runs, raising and lowering the seat.
However, attaching the legs to the nut is problematic. The nut is usually a fairly large piece of steel, in this case it’s 38mm diameter, and even with the hole and threads cut it still has a wall thickness of nearly 10mm. The legs on the other hand have a wall thickness of only 2mm. That size differential makes using MIG welding difficult. It can be done of course but it isn’t quite as straightforward as usual.
I felt it was ideally suited to TIG welding and as I hadn’t tried TIG before I thought this might be a good opportunity to get some experience.

READ MORE »

Fire dance

A yellow sign indicates an historic site ahead and soon an old corrugated shed with “Blacksmith 1889” emblazoned on its side comes into view. Not so unusual, but a driver might do a double-take when he spots the glow of the ancient forge and hears the ring of metal on metal as he passes. While the smithy in Teddington, on the road from Lyttelton to Port Levy on Banks Peninsula, is a relic from a bygone age, the man at work is a real live 21st-century blacksmith.

READ MORE »

Top gears

Contrary to what the poets say, its gears, not love, that make the world go round. The magic of an exquisitely constructed timepiece with its myriad whirring cogs is an eternal delight. Horology has always fascinated me, and it has long been an ambition of mine to build the mother of all clocks, an orrery. Named for the 4th Earl of Orrery who commissioned George Graham to make the first modern device in 1704, they mark not just the passing of the hours, but the exact movements of the planets as they beat out Kepler’s laws.

READ MORE »

Gold fish

The shubunkin goldfish is sometimes referred to as “poor man’s koi” and in China the koi carp is often used to represent yin yang. I have drawn the body of the shubunkin goldfish fish to look like one half of the yin yang symbol (see panel). I then added the fins to suggest and give movement to the piece.
Firstly I took a photocopy of my artwork and stuck it to a sheet of 0.5 mm copper plate with double-sided tape. This is to create templates of the body and fins

READ MORE »

Classic Manx Norton flourishes

The legendary Manx Norton was
the first single-cylinder motorcycle
to lap the famous Isle of Man TT
circuit at an average speed of 100 miles per hour (160 km/hr).
Made from 1946 until 1962, the bikes became a favourite of privateer racers and in more modern
times, a popular choice for classic
motorcycle racing.
Today, half a world away from the original Birmingham factory, a small Kiwi company is restoring and supplying parts to Manx Norton owners around the globe.

READ MORE »

Videos of metal shaping and motorbike guru, Steve Roberts

In the November/December issue 105 of The Shed, our cover story is on a Kiwi legend of metal shaping and motorbikes, Steve Roberts.
If you enjoyed that article here is a link to a website that has even more of Steve’s story as well as videos of the cars and bikes he has constructed and inside info from chats with Steve.

READ MORE »

How to repair a thread

Damaged and pulled threads can be an annoying inconvenience, especially a stripped spark plug thread. They can also be expensive if the equipment you are working on is vital or difficult to replace. But there are now systems with which you can repair even completely destroyed threads quickly and at a reasonable cost, so saving time and money.
Existing undamaged threads can also be significantly strengthened using these types of repair systems.

READ MORE »