It’s all about having the right tool… Specifically with creating sculpture, the right tool/technique can make the difference between having a 50 hour project in the scrap pile or on a pedestal in a gallery. I’ve done both.
When purchasing a tool, I strongly believe that you get what you pay for. Although most tool brands have complete lines (Milwaukee, Ryobi,DeWalt, Craftsman/Stanley and Bosch) there are some brands that manufacture the best tool for the job. When making a tool purchase, it’s best to ask a professional that uses that tool everyday. They’re the ideal R&D Departments and truly put tools to the test. The Milwaukee metal shearing tool (below left) is durable, reliable and provides a great clean cut. A few hints; don’t force it…apply very little pressure and it should almost drive itself. If it’s not moving forward, adjust the angle. It’s best to stop completely and start over by slightly adjusting the tool’s angle. Try to maintain that angle to make a smooth easy cut.
You will find yourself wrestling it like a wild animal when you lose that sweet spot…deep breathe…stop and restart.
The benefit of being a metalsmith is that when you need a unique tool or a tool is insufficient for the job, we can modify or create one. I manufactured the Medieval-like hammer tool (middle right) that easily forms metal. It’s a large stainless steel ball bearing welded to a solid metal tube (for weight). It’s a hammer x100.
This is that critical stage, when I create texture, where I need to decide if less is more. I’m inclined to add more texture and create more depth in these dimples with a smaller tool. Testing ideas like this certainly help with that decision. I have decided to go with three sides….more linear and after testing, I’ve also decided to maintain the cleaner, softer pattern.
I prefer to bend material before I cut. With the use of these Wiss sheet metal hand seamers (another favorite) I form the ends to allow me to start welding in the middle and working my way out. At this point, I have some idea of how the ends will be created, but I’m free with the process and see where it takes me.