Monday, April 5, 2010

Light Weekend Welding: Baseplates and Barstools

For me, Easter is like the beginning of Summer.  I can skip Spring.  In L.A., there's always something blooming year round, and not many trees lose their leaves, so the traditional signals of thaw and rebirth don't really apply.

Summer, for me, means spending as much time outside as possible.  Winter is for bundling up and listening to the rain, while knitting or spending time at the piano.  Summer is for gardening and welding.  I don't abandon my piano in the summer, or set aside my yarn and needles altogether, but these activities definitely yield to the warm weather and long days.

Yesterday I had a great day in the workshop, clearing out stuff that had piled up over the winter, getting things set up to make it into a working shop once again.  Adding to the fun, my buddy Alan came over for a welding lesson in the afternoon.  It was the first time I had had someone visit and hang out in the shop with me, and we had a lot of fun.

Sometimes I go very purposefully out to the shop, to construct a design that is fully preconceived and sketched out.  Other times, I am spontaneously inspired to make something new as I look through my scrap piles and inventory of metal and parts.  Some of these impromptu creations are more successful than others, but my ratio of successes is steadily improving.

Yesterday was a good day for impromptu creations.

Generally, if I haven't welded anything in a week or longer, I take something small and simple to work on as a warm-up project.  Yesterday, after I got things organized and straightened around to where I could get to work, I decided, as my warm up, to take a little step stool I had made a couple of years ago, and weld a back onto it to make a kid's chair.

 Left: Orange chair made in 2007.  Right: Base made in 2007, back added yesterday.  

I decided the cute orange chair needed a companion, perhaps to be painted red.  These chairs are made from discarded base plate templates.  What's a base plate template, you ask?

On the right, in the photo above, is a complete base plate template. In building construction, the metal plate is used to position and hold the L-shaped bolts while concrete is being poured.  After the concrete cures, the plate is removed and discarded, and then a steel column is set into place and bolted down.

I have been using them as plant stands around my back patio ever since I scavenged rescued them from a construction site where they were being thrown out.  Apparently they had ordered too many of them, or they were the wrong size, or both.  These were in the discard pile.  That happened to be a government job.  Go figure.  I should say a special "thank you" to all the L.A. Taxpayers who funded my materials for this blog post.

Some of the plates were made into chairs, including the orange one above. These were made as kiddie chairs, specifically for my nieces and nephew when they visited (along with my sis and bro-in-law) for Thanksgiving, 2007.  But somehow, one of the chairs never got a back.  Then it just became a step stool and was languishing in the garage, until it became my warm-up project yesterday.

Here we are playing "Will It Float?" in the driveway.

We had a lot of fun making predictions and testing them out!

The kids made good use of the chairs.

My excitement over the re-discovery of the Orange Chair of Cuteness, and the creation of its mate, and a desire to make a bunch more of them, led to the dismantling of a few more plant stand/baseplate templates.

Then things took a different turn, when I looked at the growing pile of L-shaped bolt-legs sitting there, and I got a completely new idea:  I envisioned a weirdo swiveling adjustable-height bar stool, using the L-shaped bolts from the template but inverting them to become the legs for the stool.  At first it was going to have 3 legs, but when I saw that piece of square tubing, and decided to make it the seat, I realized it would look better with 4 legs.

Thus, my latest creation was, well, created:

Behold the Robot Bar Stool!

I think its best use will be as a seat at a BBQ or garden party, where you can hold a plate of food while you sit on it, and have your drink stashed inside the compartment.

Seen here with the whole gang.

Presented here by Spokesdogs Paul and Todd:

I told them to pretend it was a Calvin Klein ad.  I think they did pretty well.

And finally, demonstrated by the author:

Hi, Mom!

Showing off my latest hand-knit gloves as well!

I still want to make some more kiddie chairs. There's always next weekend!


  1. Dig the stool! Do you use acetylene for welding your furniture?

  2. Thanks! I use MIG. I have a Lincoln 135, it just plugs into household current.

    When I had the power to the house upgraded and new meters and panels installed, I had a circuit created to run 220 power out to the garage, but it is stubbed out underneath my utility room, waiting. I will have to sawcut the driveway concrete and trench it out to the garage, which is a bigger project than I can really take on these days.

    I can do a lot with my little MIG unit though. I have gas and wire to do stainless, and have done a little bit of stainless work with it. I could also theoretically weld aluminum, but I haven't tried it.

  3. Drink stashed inside the compartment! Brilliant!

  4. Nice man! I agree with Emily; drink stash with a bar stool is really bonus. Ladies with purses would find the cubby useful I'll bet, and perhaps a coat could be stuffed there.