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High School Metal Work Projects

by Flora Richards-Gustafson

A high school metal works class is an elective course that teaches students how to correctly and safely use metalworking tools such as a drill press, grinder, welder and lathe. Students learn how to work with various types of metal, take fine, accurate measurements and read project plans to create tools, pieces of art and home accessories. When doing a metalwork project for a class, a student should choose one that matches his skill level so the finished product is of high quality.

Coffee Table

To make a metal coffee table, a student needs square metal tubing that’s 1.25 square inches and a 1/8-inch thick. The table uses four 16-inch lengths of the tubing for its legs and two 17-inch lengths for the short ends of the tabletop frame. It also uses three 44-inch lengths of the square metal tubing: two of 44-inch lengths for long sides of the tabletop frame and one length that serves as a support piece that you install between the two 44-inch tubes. After welding the pieces together to form a coffee table frame, the student paints the metal frame in the color of her choice and attaches a tabletop using bolts, flanges or an adhesive.

Tiered Plant Stand

A tiered metal plant stand looks simple, but might be a challenge to make because each level must be perfectly flat and the welds must be strong enough to hold the weight of a potted plant. A student can make this project using wrought iron or thin rebar. A simple plant stand uses two or more concentric circles for the tiers, with the largest tier at the bottom and the smallest at the top. The teen can also make a plant stand that resembles a set of small steps that allows a user to place a potted plant on each tier.

Floor Lamp

A decorative floor lamp uses three 2-foot lengths of 3/8-inch steel rod, two pieces of flat stock steel that measures 1-by-1/8 inches and one 4-foot length of half-inch steel rod. The 3/8-inch pieces serve as the lamp’s legs, which form a claw-like shape after the teen bends them at a 120-degree angle and welds them to the 4-foot steel rod, which is the main post. One of the pieces of flat stock steel is the decorative scrollwork after the student bends it and secures it to the bottom of the second piece of flat stock steel. After attaching the flat stock steel to the lamp post, the student secures a lamp kit and shade to the end of the flat stock steel.

Fused Ring

Using a bar of copper, stainless steel, silver, brass or titanium that has a 1-inch diameter, a teen can make a simple fused ring using a welder. The student uses heat from the torch to melt the metal so it forms bulges and ripples that look like the skin on a pickle. After she bends the metal into a circle, she fuses the ends together using a metal wire that has a lower melting point. For example, if she makes a silver ring, she’ll use 14 karat gold wire to fuse the ends together. The student can also use the metal wire to add texture to the outside of the ring. The ring is finished after the student smooths the inside of it and polishes the metal.

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