Sheet Metal + Oak

This week’s prompt was to make anything out of any two materials. I was overwhelmed by the options. I couldn’t pick two materials, let alone decide what I wanted to make. Ideally, the concept should come first. I had a bunch of ideas, but couldn’t commit to one. Instead I decided to let the materials guide me. I settled on sheet metal and oak, thinking they could be used to make some sort of instrument, perhaps as research for my NIME project.

When I approach fabrication, it’s important for me to feel that whatever I’m making will be useful. I fear wasting resources on something that I won’t actually use. Of course, I learn through the process of making, so that’s useful. But I want to be able to take pride in the physical manifestation of the learning process.

This is not something that I feel when I’m programming. When I’m programming, I don’t need to worry about whether what I make will be useful, because it will not take up space in my blue bin. If I’m not proud of the final product, nobody else will have to see it. And if I spontaneously decide to incorporate some new element, I can download it for free in seconds. I can get away with these kinds of things in my creative programming explorations. But with fabrication, I’ve found that I really need to take time to sketch and outline a plan.

Unfortunately, I did not settle on any single plan this week. Here’s where that led:

2014-10-10 00.00.10It’s not quite the instrument I had in mind, but it makes some alright pitched metal sounds. I wound up using some scrap wood for the legs, because I didn’t want to waste the oak. The feet are sanded strips of oak that I tried to round with the belt sander, though I guess ideally I would have used the lathe. They’re connected with self-tapping screws, and this also connects the metal. That part was really tricky. I drilled a small hole with the drill press, then clamped the leg/metal down, trying to get the perfect angle, and hand-drilled the screws. I found it helped to tighten by hand, because the rounded metal didn’t want to let the wood get so close.

Before I decided to go this route, I almost went another route:

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Inspiration from MAD Museum:

2014-10-09 20.16.51 2014-10-09 19.51.18 2014-10-09 20.25.45 2014-10-09 20.25.13 2014-10-09 20.17.59 2014-10-09 20.10.35-1

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