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Old 4 Days Ago
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Default Custom bead work project.

Not sure if I can post this here or not but have been doing some bead work for a stainless steel letterbox for my place to get some practise in.

Might be useful for anyone looking at custom door panels etc.


Just happened to walk by a new restaurant opening up that had stainless steel benches lying outside. Asked if I could have them and they were pleased to see them go! Carried three of them home the last 2km of our walk.


Want to try some 'quilting' for the sides of the box to simulate a shingle look as going for a little home look to the letterbox.


These are often referred to as 'Art Dies' and came with the new roller. They do the same thing as step dies but their narrow profile allows them to get into tighter places and be more manoeuvrable when doing curves.


First up I am running a step bead around the sides to frame it. Would use step dies next time for straight lines like this as would come out a bit flatter.


Can see the distortion at the corners as the steps don't meet on the outside. These were dressed up over the bench with a chisel so the lines from the roller imprints meet up.


While in the US I bought a tipping die set from Hoosie Profiles. https://www.hoosierprofiles.com/bead-dies-.html Thought this might work well to do the quilting lines with.


I am just running directly over the lines I have drawn. This is where the quick release I made for this comes into its own. At the start just pull the handle down to the preset tension and then release it again at the end. Always get the exact same pressure line after line.


Halfway there on the first panel. This is the underside.


Both directions done. Quite like the design from this side too.


The quilting from the top side.


Both sides now done. The centre panel will be the back of the letterbox and have glass put in behind the raised section later to easily check the mail without opening the door. Distortion has increased as I have not done any prestretching. Predicting once folded and welded together it will be good enough for a letterbox.


Folded up.


My spot welder came from a company that made stretched limousines and hearses and they had a set of longer custom arms. The end pieces of the box will have the flanges both facing down so the top piece will need the arms to reach all the way from the bottom of the box. Only problem is that my flanges are narrow so the 90* tips wont reach the flange without the arms arcing out on the main face.


I redrilled the bottom arm at 60* and bent the top arm the same in the press to meet it.


Glad I was only spot welding on the day as ended up peaking at 44*C/111*F in the workshop!


I didn't get a shot of spot welding the top piece as didn't have enough hands! I did arc out on the arm a couple of times trying to hold everything in place and keep it balanced. So put an old welding glove over the arm to insulate it. Came up with a better way to support the box once I got to the bottom piece.


Distortion pulled out as hoped which was good.


Put the polished side to the inside as wanted the satin side to the outside to better hide wear and tare. Front piece/door will be next.
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I have always wanted to try embossing so thought this was the perfect project for it. I played around with the art dies following either inside or outside lines to see what worked best. Also top side or from underneath to see what would give the best results. Was having trouble around tight corners and intersections so switched the top die to the tipping one as shown. This did improve it and found doing it from the underside and following the inside line helped as well. This piece is what I practised the step and quilting on as well and is the side of a computer case.


What I did also find is not starting right at the corner as the indent from the die will spread further. So started this far from the corner worked best for me.


Trying different dies to see the effect.


Steel lower for the 9 gave more height and definition.


What is even easier is just a single pass from a bead die set. Went up through all my sizes to see the outcome.


In the end I really wanted to do the harder full outline as could use different fonts that way.


In CorelDraw I chose a font I liked and then altered the size and proportions to get the same spacing to the outside beading on all sides. Printed it out and cut the number out with a utility knife.


Traced the cutout with a sharpie. I'm doing it from the backside so the numbers have to be mirrored.


The new lighting present from my in-laws works a treat. I just had to remember that what was going to be raised always had to be towards the throat with the way I set it up.


Came out every bit as good as I hoped! This is straight off the bead roller with nothing touched. Only a slight over run on the inside corner on the 5 to be fixed. Have to remember that inside corners have to start and stop earlier than outside corners.


Folded up three of the sides as the hinge will attached to the fourth. Have quite a buckle there.


I ran the hinge edge through the shrinker to get rid of the excess material.


Do still have too much material around the embossing though.


Can see it better with a longer ruler.


I used the 5" shrinking disc on the inside around the numbers. Didn't want to mark up the outside so always made sure to 'pop' the material to the inside while heating it up with the disc. Even placing a block underneath when needed and holding pressure down around it. No cooling with compressed air or water was done at any time to stop surface hardening.


Ended up going right around the numbers and also manipulated the steel with the palm of my hand and using a very soft faced hammer over a sand bag to move the highs and lows around.


I didn't want to put a handle on the front so thought folding out the flange a bit would be better. The vice and the wide vice grips hold the rest of the flange still while the black flanging pliers are pulled. Left 1/2" each side to give the flange room to bend. Best also to stretch that area beforehand by hammering over a stake dolly or bench.


That will do the job I think and look neater.


When removing marks from the shrinker/stretcher etc, I use a 80 grit flap disc, coarse paint stripping disc and then a 7" finer one. Then finish off with a kitchen scotchbrite pad and paste used for scrubbing pots.


Had my wife use the spot welder while I held the door in position on the full length stainless steel piano hinge. The slot is big enough for our largest magazines and the hinged flap behind it is to stop birds nesting inside which happened to the current one!


The box is large as well as we get parcels from our online buying. The delivery guys are too scared to come to the door due to Kuma having the run of the whole block. Next will be a spot for the papers.
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Now to make the 'roof' panels. I prefer to use the female die at the top as easier to follow its edges than guessing the centre of the rounded male side. I had first marked where the centres were going to be and then each side of that to match the edges of the die. Don't have to remember which side of the line to be on that way.


I had also run the step in first. This is so I can bring the die down until it just touches the surface and then pull the sheet against the step before clamping down the die the rest of the way. That way all of the starts will be in line.


Beading done and now a flange will be folded on three sides. You will also notice the ruffling along the top and bottom ends where the round beads finished. This is because they shrink the sheet causing a gather. A bit like tuck shrinking. I will run those edges through the shrinker to even it out.


I was going to make it in a single piece first and them add 'ridge capping' along the top for looks. Thought I might as well make it in two pieces as then could use offcuts left from the benches as well.


To attach the roof section I made up these brackets that will create an eve I wanted as well. I also knew the eve would be needed to clear the flange of the roof for the door. Just checking to make sure the rivets fall into place beforehand as be too hard to drill them later. The rivets will go in from underneath as there won't be enough room from the top.


I spot welded the brackets onto the roof first so you won't see the rivets on the outside like commercially made ones.


Roof ready to go on. I also welded the joins at the corners on this and the door to make it look neater.


To keep the door closed I glued on a strip of magnet. I took lengths of it from a fridge door from inside the seal that all fridges have since the 60's. I was fortunate that the walls were made from 430 grade stainless steel which is a ferritic alloy so the magnet will stick to it. The door was from another bench and was non magnetic and would be 316 grade as these are the two most common grades used in food preparation. What is great about sharing this build is that they spotted the letter opening flap hanging away a bit. They said this happens as it centres itself under the hinge pin which is behind the flap. Adding weight to the backside moves the COG forward again.


The roof is on! I gave the face of the embossed numbers a quick polish by hand with some Autosol to make them stand out a bit more.


Can see how the eve width was needed to clear the door.


When I choose the size of the window in the back of the box I went with a common photo print size. This is so I could go to the $2 shop and buy a cheap frame to take the glass from it.


Glass installed with an adhesive sealant.
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