Sunday, 4 July 2010

Recycling steel from an old pedal bin

(Just to let you know, links open in new windows)

It seems that in this day and age everyone is telling everyone else that they need to recycle, reduce your carbon footprint, buy locally produced food, hell grown your own if you can.
To be honest I tend to agree, there's no harm in recycling stuff (or growing your own food, fear not I will be posting about that as well) most councils now encourage it, plastics,paper and the like, we all have some way to recycle the day to day stuff, cereal boxes, plastic milk bottles and so on, but what do you do when you have something you can put in your blue wheelie bin (or what ever you use) ?

Here's a radical though, what about recycling it yourself ? could you take the item in question and make it into something else ? It just so happens that I have recently found myself in this very predicament.
We had a pedal bin in kitchen that we got cheap from some where, you know the stainless steel type, well ours broke and I fixed it and then it broke some where else, and I fixed it and in the end it couldn't be fixed any more.
So we got a new one, but we were left with a broken stainless steel bin and no where to put it, you can't throw it in the rubbish, for a start it would be a good few years before it broke down in a landfill site somewhere, and you really shouldn't put that sort of thing in your bin anyway, and so I left it outside wondering what to do with it.

But then I had an idea to make a weather vane for our garden, you know the sort you get on churches, the big rooster type things, only I'm not actually making anything that large, and it's more for an educational tool, so that our kids can see which way the wind is pointing and observe how the wind behaves.
And that's when I though about the bin, it's basically just a sheet of steel that's been formed into a cylinder, so I set about finding a suitable design for the main feature of the weather vane, seeing as my son is mad about dinosaurs this seemed a good way to go.

After a bit of google searching I found this site that has colouring pages on it - free colouring pages
and I selected this picture -

Dinosaurs are cool.

I had to make the image a fair bit bigger before I printed it out, you can do this with most image editing software.
I then got out my tin snips and cut out a section of the bin, roughly A4 size, and I was feeling pretty chuffed that I had found a use for the bit of steel I had left from the old bin.

This is not the end because I then ran into a small issue, that being how do I get the dinosaur in the picture onto the steel ? and the I remembered something I saw on line a while back, it was on a website somewhere, I don't have the link I'm afraid, but basically it was an image of someone making fantastic designs on bits of sheet metal, steel,copper etc and all they were using was a hammer and a nail, and this is how I got the design onto my bit of steel, yes I know I could have drawn it on, but I'm not that good at drawing, so here is what I did.

I got the piece of paper and a bit of scrap wood (I seem to have a lot of scrap wood) and some clamps,a broken drill bit (I have a few of these as well) and a hammer, I then clamped the piece of paper to the metal sheet and the wood, I mainly did this because the piece of metal had a curve to it, so the clamps held it flat enough to work with.

And then I got my broken drill bit (you could use a metal punch or small Philip's screw driver maybe) and hammer and basically I punched out the design as a series of dot's which I can then use as a guide to cut out the dinosaur, which will then be attached to the weather vane, I'll be posting about that as well.

Here's some pictures of the design punched onto the metal

The tools I used and the metal sheet - 

The tools.

Now before I go on, I would like to make a couple of points for safety.

Firstly a metal punch would probably be the best option, but you'll need one that has a fairly fine point.
Secondly the metal sheet will be very sharp on the edges once it's cut, so a good pair of thick gloves would be a good idea.

The lighting wasn't that good for taking pictures but here's another - 

The punched outline.

It didn't take as long as I thought it would, and I think it has transferred quite well, at least well enough to cut out the main shape and the use my multi tool for the more detailed parts, and to make the edges a little smoother.

Now if your not building a weather vane for your garden and you have scrap metal, from an old bin or from other place you can use it to make art with, and it's pretty easy to do, I found this on a blog, its about halfway down.
 So if you have some old sheet metal lying around maybe you and the kid's can make some art out of it, but remember the metal will be sharp once it's cut, so gloves are a good idea, especially if little hands are helping, you can smooth the edges of the metal with a file or some sand paper, or you could just fold each side over.
I don't think enough of this sort of thing is done these days, so it maybe be a good project for kids as they will learn a little about metal work, and design, as well as how to use tools safely.

Thanks for reading.

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