How to cut metal with a guillotine

(Last modified: March 21st, 2019)

Guillotines cut metal by using 2 blades; one is fixed under the workpiece, the other moves downwards to cut through the metal. Guillotines come in many different sizes and are known by an array of names such as; guillotine shear, plate shear, squaring shear, Beverly, and throatless shear, but essentially, they all utilise the same mode of cutting.

cnc guillotine metals4U

Guillotines are available in mechanical, pneumatic and hydraulic models for use across a wide variety of projects. Hand or foot operated models are a useful addition to the hobbyist or DIY enthusiast as they make light work of cutting through aluminium, bronze, brass, and mild steel without the need for a large workshop or financial investment. For the metal worker needing fast and multiple sheets cutting regularly, a larger CNC pneumatic or hydraulic model would be more appropriate.

The cut edge of the metal may need deburring or finishing after being cut with a guillotine, this can be done with a mill file or an aluminium sanding sheet.

The different types of guillotine are looked at more closely below.

Squaring shear, power shear or guillotine.

This is most commonly used in industry as a hydraulically powered CNC machine, although they are available as foot or hand powered units. Guillotines can have either a fixed or variable cutting angle that reduces the risk of metal becoming trapped in the blades, although setting this ‘rake’ angle will compromise the exact squareness of the cut edge- this can usually be set to between 0.5° and 2.5°.  The force of the cut can also be reduced by adjusting the ‘shear angle’; this alters the rocking action of the blade to increase the stroke- this makes the cut from one side of the metal to the other as more of a scissor action than a chopping action.

Tips for cutting metal using a guillotine.

  • Eye protection and gloves should always be worn when cutting metal to provide protection from cuts and metal splinter injuries. Guillotines powered by electricity are incredibly noisy so ear protection should also be used.
  • Adjust the settings on the machine by following the manufacturer’s instructions to the desired length of cut, shear angle, and rake angle.
  • Ensure that all guards are in good working order and correctly in place. The blade and clamps should be correctly isolated by the guards to avoid entanglement. The force used within guillotines could sever a limb, so do not rush the machine set up or ‘make do’ with any element of the equipment that is not fit for purpose.
  • Place the metal into the front of the machine and feed it through until it touches the back gauge then activate the clamps to secure the metal.
  • Engage the blade mechanism which may be a key pad, treadle, or lever depending on the machine. The blades will shear off the metal which will drop into the collection chute to the rear of the machine.
  • If the metal does not drop out from the machine, do not try to free it manually as the blades may be jammed against the cut off metal, removing the metal may cause the blades to slam closed or the metal to drop suddenly causing catastrophic injury. Switch the machine off and call a qualified engineer to clear the machine.

Throatless shear, Throatless guillotine.

Throatless guillotines have no plate in front of the blade to support the metal and no ‘throat’ to dictate a particular way the metal must be fed into the blades. This configuration makes it easy to manipulate the metal easily into the cutting blades. The blades are raised and lowered into and out of the metal by a hand operated lever.

How to cut metal with a throatless guillotine.

  • Ensure eye protection and heavy-duty gloves are worn.
  • Mark the metal with marker pen, or a scoring scribe, along the cut line.
  • Feed the metal between the blades and lower the lever in small or long drags to make a series of short snips or longer cuts while continuing to manipulate the metal into place; this simple technique allows almost any shape to be cut from sheet metal.

Bench shear.

Bench shears are mounted on the workbench to provide a secure working environment. The lever operated mechanism provides a forceful cutting action. Bench shears can be used to cut out rough shapes and straight cuts in sheet, however, they are not suited to the more intricate cutting that is achievable with throatless shears.

How to cut metal with bench shears.

  • Ensure correct PPE is worn.
  • Measure and mark or score the cut line if necessary.
  • Place the metal between the blades and pull the lever downwards to engage the blades and push it back into an upright position to open the blades.

How to cut metal with a reciprocating saw

(Last modified: March 21st, 2019)

Reciprocating saws fitted with the correct metal cutting blade make easy work of sawing through bolts, rods, rebar, pipes, profiles, and nails in studwork.

Reciprocating saws cut by the blade travelling in a backwards and forwards, push- pull movement. Many tool models include an oscillating setting which enables the blade to also travel in a movement running perpendicular to the cutting motion- this means that the blade completes an oval cutting motion; this is exceptionally useful when using a reciprocating saw to cut through wood, however, this is best switched off when cutting metal to fully utilise the ‘straight’ cutting capabilities.

reciprocating saw metals4U

These types of saws are really easy to adapt to all types of metal cutting projects due to versatility of the orientation when inserting the saw blade; the blade can be inserted with the cutting teeth facing downwards or upwards and in most modern saws the blade can be inserted in four positions to enable flush cutting and ease of use regardless of operating position. Reciprocating saws are also fitted with a ‘shoe’ that can be adjusted to increase or decrease the available cutting area of the blade; this helps extend the life of the blade and control the depth of cut. The shoe can also be used as a fulcrum to gain purchase on the material being cut and to increase control over the reciprocating action of this power tool.

Tips for cutting metal using a reciprocating saw.

  • Eye and ear protection must be worn when using a reciprocating to protect the user from injury from flying offcuts and chips. Sturdy gloves are also advised to protect against cuts.
  • Select the correct blade for the metal being cut. The recommended blades for thin metal are those with 20-24 teeth per inch, for a medium thickness of metal between 10-18 teeth per inch, and for very thick metal a blade with around 8 teeth per inch is recommended. A Bi-metal saw blade set that contains a selection of blades suitable for a range of commonly performed projects is a worthwhile investment.
  • Choosing a longer blade is useful when flush cutting as it will bend to enable a greater proportion of the cutting edge to ride flat. Cutting thinner materials with a smaller blade will help limit ‘waggle’ during use; usually the blade should only be a couple of inches longer than the depth of cut required.
  • Insert the blade into the saw in a way that that best suits the application. For example; if cutting through a material that is flush to the floor, it can be useful to insert the blade with the teeth facing upwards and then switch the orientation of the tool (flip it upside-down) so the handle does not get in the way.
  • Setting the saw to a slower speed than for wood cutting will extend the blade life and provide more control and precision. Adjust the shoe to ensure it is set at the most appropriate point on the blade.
  • Place the blade where the cut will be, using the shoe as a pivot or fulcrum will help guide the blade until it gains purchase in the metal. Slowly squeeze the trigger and keep a firm hold on the tool housing.
  • Changing the cutting angle by lowering or raising the trigger hand (in relation to the workpiece) can speed up the cutting time.
  • When the cut is complete, let go of the trigger and withdraw the blade back through the cut.

Prolonging reciprocating saw blade life.

If a saw blade becomes buckled it can be easily straightened by placing on a flat surface, put a flat piece of wood over the damaged area and hit the wood a few times with a hammer- be careful to not damage the teeth.

Blades that have become too worn to cut metal can often be repurposed for use cutting plastics.

How to cut metal using score and snap

(Last modified: March 21st, 2019)

‘Score and snap’ is a hand-cutting technique that is simple to complete on light gauge sheet metal and thin aluminium and steel profiles. This technique needs very little equipment and is very quick. The only equipment you will need is a utility knife, a marker pen, a clamp can be useful for some profiles, and a metal square or metal ruler.

score and snap tools metals4U

Tips for cutting metal using the score and snap technique.

  • If necessary, measure and mark out where the cut needs to be made.
  • Don’t forget to wear protective gloves and eye protection. If wearing prescription glasses to help your vision, ensure you wear goggles over the top to ensure protection from small shards of metal that may fly off at speed.
  • Hold the straight metal edge of the ruler or square along the mark-up line and score with the utility knife blade or scribing tool- to reduce the risk of the blade slipping and making unwanted marks on the metal surface, or worse causing an accident, it is better to work slowly using moderate pressure and make several lighter score marks.
  • Clamp the metal securely on one side of the cut line if appropriate, smaller pieces may be hand held.
  • Bend the metal back and forth along the scored line until it snaps.
  • To cut through rivets or studs that are fixed through metal sheeting or wood boards, simply score lines on either side of the riveted through material and simply work the area to be removed backwards and forwards until it snaps off.

How to cut metal with a plasma cutter

(Last modified: March 21st, 2019)

Plasma cutting was discovered in the 1960’s when welders tried to turn the gas up on their arc welders to improve speed and productivity; what they discovered was that once you reach a certain intensity, the equipment no longer joins metal, but cuts it. Plasma cutters work by combining an electric charge with compressed air being discharged at the tip of the cutting torch- the arc ‘super- heats’ the compressed air to form ‘plasma’.

metals4U plasma cutting

Tips for cutting metal with a plasma cutter.

  • Ensure you have a suitable workspace for using this cutting equipment, this includes a stable workbench and all your PPE to hand; plasma cutters function at around 45000°F / 25000°C, so regular Tig and Mig gloves will not be adequate. We recommend these  Skintex welders’ gloves to offer superior protection when working with plasma cutting equipment.
  • Ensure the plasma cutter is switched off and plug it into the power supply ready to start. Check that cables and hoses are in good condition and not crossing over or caught on the metal you are intending to cut.
  • Attach the air compressor hose to the plasma cutter- make sure the connection is secure then turn on the air to the correct pressure-too high will blow out the plasma, too little will not enable a cut to be made. This will typically be between 60-65 psi.
  • Ensure there is at least one water trap filter/ disposable air filter in the hose to maintain a dry air supply to the arc; this will prevent splutter or maybe worse- water and electricity are best avoided being mixed during any operation.
  • Place the metal to be cut on a bench or cutting table and secure the ‘Earth Clamp’ on the metal, close to where the cut will be.
  • Switch the plasma cutter on and adjust the current to the desired setting.

General guidance for amperage suggests 20amps will be enough for a 3mm deep cut, after this, the amperage can be increased by 10 amps per additional 3mm of cut depth.

Thickness of metal in mm Suggested amps
3 20
6 30
9 40
12 50

 

  • Put on your PPE.
  • You are now ready to cut the metal- the standard technique for plasma cutting is to ‘drag’ the cutting tip across the metal. Hold the tip at a 45° angle facing away from you and drag the cutting tip towards you; this will blow sparks away from you- but stay vigilant, the sparks will still fly around randomly at times. Once cutting has begun the torch is best held perpendicular to the metal being cut; if sparks travel backwards, simply adjust the angle of the torch to face away again.
  • Regular checks of the cutting tip, nozzle, and electrode for signs of damage and wear will help protect against unpredictable and erratic cutting and machine performance. Be careful to not touch the plasma cutter to the metal as this may fuse the cutting tip to the metal and may cause the cutter to go out; using ‘drag cups’ or a ‘drag shield’ can keep the tip from coming into direct contact with the metal. If no drag shields are available, try to maintain a 6mm gap between the metal and the cutting tip.
  • Once the cut has been completed, turn off the machine and disconnect the ‘earth clamp’ and then turn off the air. While tidying up the cables and hoses it is a good opportunity to carefully check them and replace anything that show signs of excessive wear or damage.

 

Does my dream shed need planning permission?

(Last modified: March 21st, 2019)

Shed planning drawings

The humble garden shed has had something of a renaissance in recent years. Once a dusty dumping ground for tools, lawnmowers and anything without a home in the house, today’s sheds are as weird and wonderful as their owners’ imagination.

They even star in their own TV show. Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year is now onto its fourth series and has showcased everything from a shed made from wine bottles to a Nepalese mountain hut in Bolton.

One of the main reasons why sheds are so popular (and their owners can be so creative) is that they don’t require planning permission. As long as you follow the official guidelines of course. These lay out everything from the shed’s size to the things you are and aren’t permitted to do within their walls. Stick to these rules and you’ll avoid an unwanted (and potentially expensive) visit from your local planning inspector.

For the purposes of this article we refer to ‘sheds’ but these rules also apply to greenhouses and other outbuildings such as garden offices.

Planning permission is NOT required as long as:

  1. The shed is used for domestic purposes only. Feel free to invite your mates round to check out your recreation of ‘The Rovers Return’, but don’t charge strangers £5 for a pint of homebrew.
  2. Nobody sleeps in the building overnight. Home offices are fine but unfortunately your cunning plan to add an extra bedroom at the bottom of the garden will need planning consent.
  3. The ground area covered by the shed and any other buildings within the boundary of the property, excluding the original house, is not more than half the total area of the property. In other words, no sheds that take up more than half your garden.
  4. You might be extremely proud of your shed but putting it in the front garden for the whole world to admire is also a no-no. Rules state that no part of your shed can be in front of the main or side elevation of the original house when it faces onto a road.
  5. If you’ve got designs on a multi-storey mancave you might have to reign your ambitions in a touch. The maximum height of a shed that doesn’t require planning permission is 4 metres.
  6. Where you build your shed also has an effect on how high your shed can be. If it’s within 2 metres of the property boundary the maximum eaves height of the shed mustn’t be over 2.5 metres.
  7. If there’s a road to the rear of your home, no part of the shed can be within 3.5 metres of the boundary.
  8. If you’re lucky enough to live in a house within a World Heritage Site, area of outstanding natural beauty, or National Park then the maximum total area of ground covered by buildings, enclosures and pools situated more than 20 metres from any wall of the house is not allowed to exceed 10 square metres. You’re also not allowed to build a shed between the principal or side elevation of the house and its boundary.
  9. And last but certainly not least, your shed must not be used for keeping pigeons. Sorry pigeon fanciers.

Note: Measurements are always calculated using external dimensions. 

If you live in a house which is a listed building, it’s likely that you’ll need Listed Building Consent for any building operations. If the development is within the grounds of a listed building you may need to submit a planning application for the work unless listed building consent has already been granted. Your local planning office will be able to give you more advice.

Once you’ve got planning covered, it’s time to get cracking on the exciting bit; deciding what your shed’s going to look like and what you’re going to put in it.

Start by deciding whether your shed’s going to have electricity. If you’re going ‘full man-cave’ with a TV, fridge, fruit machine etc, you’re going to need more than an extension cable from your kitchen window. Ditto if you’re planning a proper workshop with heavy tools. Connecting your shed to the grid is a big job but it’s well worth researching if you’re planning a premium space.

bar stools in man-cave

Think about what you’re going to get up to in your shed. If it’s going to be your man sanctuary then start looking out for star items on ebay, freecycle, Gumtree and the like. Second-hand pool tables, sofas and even reclaimed fixtures and fittings from pubs can all be picked up relatively cheaply.

If it’s primarily a workshop, then storage is going to be key. Shelving, metal racks and other clever uses of space are all worth exploring, with Pinterest a good place to start for ingenious storage inspiration.

shed workshop

When it comes to the overall design of the shed, you’ll probably have a few thoughts already, but do spend a while looking at ideas online too. If you’re pressed for time there are also plenty of free plans for sheds on the web. Think about materials as well, for instance, do you want the added strength of a metal framed design?

And whatever you need for your build, from materials to tools, metals4U has you covered. Good luck and happy shedding!

metals4U sponsor Team Hare for Formula Student 2019.

(Last modified: March 19th, 2019)

 

Many of you that follow metals4U on social media, or regularly read our blogs, will know that we like to get involved in supporting emerging new talent – particularly when it embraces the next generation of metal workers. We are always interested in how people use metal in engineering and creative projects which is why we are thrilled to add a new sponsorship project to our portfolio.

For 2019, metals4U are Gold tier sponsors of Team HARE; a talented group of students from the University of Huddersfield that are participating in the IMechE (Institution of Mechanical Engineers) Formula Student competition.

Team Hare university of Huddersfield/metals4U

This annual competition entails students from automotive, motorsport, mechanical, and electronic engineering disciplines designing and building a single seat race car prototype. Student teams from all around the world compete in a series of tasks and challenges to earn themselves a place at Silverstone in July.

Throughout the competition, a robust testing process assesses the validity of the car build to culminate in a series of static and dynamic test events held over several days at Silverstone. The team must also work through a series of tasks over several months to produce data on different elements of the vehicle build with harsh point penalties incurred for missing a submission deadline. This competition is not for the faint hearted, the standards are high and the scrutiny on all aspects of the team endeavour is monumental.

Simon Roberts Team Hare

Simon Roberts: Team Principal

The team is made up of 22 students led by Simon Roberts, a 23-year-old Automotive and Motorsport Engineering MEng student.

Simon has been involved with Team Hare for the last 4 years and is really rising to the challenge of being Team Principal this year by taking overall responsibility for  Hare 2019, health and safety, and organising sponsorship and fundraising to ensure the project is  well-supported and sustainable. Simon’s final year project involved him making a bold attempt to turbo-charge the current Hare 19 engine.

 

 

 

Over the coming months we will be sharing much more detail and insight into the progress of the team and the car. To make sure you are always up to date on metals4U news make sure to follow us on Social media.

If you would like to look at the team progress so far, check out the Team Hare Facebook page here.

Learning from the master with Brian Fell

(Last modified: November 15th, 2018)

Our recent competition to win a place on a masterclass workshop with celebrated sculptor, Brian Fell, proved to be a huge success.

We saw a great response with dozens of fantastic entries, which made Brian’s job a tough one when it came to judging. But one entry stood out above all the others, and that was our winner, Jessica Alice Smith.
Jessica_Smith_1-entry

Brian said of her submission: “Jessica had the strongest application and we felt she would benefit the most from the course”. Here’s her entry that caught Brian’s eye:

My current practice works with themes of balance and fragility; primarily playing with the idea of building up each side of the structure to the pivotal point before it collapses. By doing this I am able to capture the greatest level of tension between the structure and its material.

Though the majority of my work utilises natural and found material, I would love the opportunity to expand this further. The metal workshop would give me the tools needed to push my structures further than ever before, and the opportunity to experiment with heavier, more durable material.

Her prize was a place on the Midsummer Metal workshop that Brian and fellow sculptor, Owen Cunningham, ran in conjunction with Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Here’s what she said of her experience:
IMG_0397

“At the beginning of the course, Brian and Owen ran through all the equipment and showed us how to use each piece. After this, we were shown in groups of three how to weld, including each having a go at welding a straight non-bubbly line.
19490129_10213801307533166_1783233790_o

“The rest of the course was quite self-led. We were provided with all the materials we needed and were given the opportunity to experiment with any ideas or designs we wanted to pursue.

“Both Brian and Owen were really helpful with any questions, and stepped in to show me in more detail how to use the equipment when I needed it. In particular, I was given an extra demonstration on how to use the plasma cutter. I really enjoyed this tool and used it both to cut layers of metal into mountainous shapes for my landscapes, and also as a drawing tool”.
IMG_0395

Watch this space to see how this star of tomorrow progresses in her work.

To see all the amazing submissions we received as part of our Student sculptor competition head to our Facebook page.

 

Metallicar WIN Best Engineered Soapbox!

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

On Sunday 19th August, Team Metallicar were out in full force to see how quickly we could get down Harewood’s famous hill climb.

After doing so well last year we couldn’t wait to get back in the driving seat again ready for our first soapbox event of the year. With a bbq and beers in tow, we set up camp and geared our driver Dan Hoskin up for his first trial run. We tweaked the car after last year’s events and with performance enhancing changes under our seatbelt we felt pretty confident.

IMG_2795

With Dan ready for his first race, the rest of Team Metallicar covered the more important details – setting up our fantastically loud speakers and organising who would be on BBQ duty. With our race tunes pumping, Dan was ready and waiting at the start line. We usually get complaints regarding our speakers however, we were approached by the Harewood Event Coordinators and asked to turn it up as our speakers were louder than the ones hired for the event!

Running as Soapbox Number 9, we launched from the ramp and let gravity do its worst! All cars have the benefit of a practice followed by two timed laps. There aren’t many rules, mainly that soapboxes must be strong, safe and have decent brakes, plus sound steering, which is possibly the most important part!

We all anxiously watched as Dan set off for his first run. We awaited the sirens of the stand by ambulance but as expected, Dan did an amazing run!

Man in a soapbox racer being pushed up the start ramp

Besides the exhilaration, the spectacles really make the day. Soapboxes vary from incredibly serious aerodynamic cars, designed tested, modified and put through their paces yet again to the downright hilarious. Today we saw a fully-fledged furry dog chasing down the track, followed by Batman and Robin and even the police.

It’s a pretty hairy track, with racers reaching speeds of up to 43mph. Over 70 teams entered with two travelling from as far afield as America. Our driver notched up to 22nd place. Not bad. However, we were given the prestigious ‘Best Engineered Soapbox’. Something we’re extremely proud of due to the amount of work that has gone into building it! The overall event was estimated to have raised over £10K for local charities.

IMG_1686

After a long day of racing, eating and drinking, we packed up the Soapbox and headed back to Wetherby. A brilliant day enjoyed by all of Team Metallicar – roll on next year!

Catching up with our Student Sculptor 2017 winner

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

In May last year, metals4U launched our first student sculptor competition in association with Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The first prize was a place on ‘Brian Fell’s Midsummer Metal Workshop’ worth £270. The course ran over two days and was packed with demonstrations, advice and extensive access to metal and specialist equipment.

To enter, students had to be over 18 years of age and simply submit a picture of either their current or best sculpture or their design drawings to be judged by metal sculptor Brian Fell.

Jessica Smith, a student from York St John University, heard about the metals4U Student Sculpture competition from her tutors at university and decided to apply. Her submission was a piece titled, “Sticks and Tape.”

Sculpture made from sticks and tape by student Jessica Smith

‘Sticks and Tape’

The entries into the inaugural competition were all very strong and showcased a tremendous amount of emerging talent from students across the North of England. Brian Fell felt that Jessica’s entry really stood out by saying, “Jessica had the strongest application and we felt she would benefit the most from the course.” Jessica says she was thrilled to win the competition, especially as she had never entered a competition like this before, nor had she ever set foot inside a metalwork shop.

metals4U Student Sculptor competition winner Jessica Smith with Brian Fell at his Midsummer Metals workshop

Jessica attended the course in June 2017 under the expert tutelage of Brian Fell, George Fell and Owen Cunningham. Jessica found the course invaluable to her learning new skills, techniques and discovering the possibilities for creative exploration using metal.

The course began by introducing the students to all the equipment and a tutorial on how to use the tools with the materials available. The workshop attendees were then left to explore and experiment under expert guidance and with practical help always on hand. Jessica particularly enjoyed using the plasma cutter and learning how to weld. This is highly evident in the pieces she is now producing.

Jessica was brought up in Huddersfield; a large market town between Leeds and Manchester in West Yorkshire. Jessica’s grandmother, Kate Powell, is an accomplished artist and provided Jessica with her earliest introduction to technique and, perhaps more importantly, the appreciation of art in all its forms. On leaving King James’ School in Huddersfield where she studied textiles at GCSE, she enrolled on an apprenticeship in floristry. After a short while her growing interest in the formal study of art led her to enrol on an Extended Diploma course at Leeds College of Art. On successful completion of her course in Leeds in 2014, she relocated to start a fine art degree course at Bath School of Art. After a year, Jessica decided to return to the north and transferred to study Fine Art at York St John University. York has been a perfect fit for her as she has fallen in love with the city and the location works well for her to create and promote her art.

Jessica’s early work was focused on landscapes that were created on canvas or board by using mixed media such as rust particles, assorted fibres and, as she confesses, “Anything I could find really, just recycling anything I could get my hands on.” Jessica states the inspiration for her work comes from her love of the Yorkshire Dales.

Her work in sculpture also began by using anything she found lying around; sticks, canes, old broken paint brushes and truly random finds can all be recognised in her early work. Jessica is intrigued by balance and creates structures to see just how far she can push the boundaries to find the critical point just before collapse.

This piece, based on her submitted competition entry, was constructed on the Midsummer Metal Workshop using mild steel, however, Jessica is eager to try out weathering steel (Corten) to see just how the oxidation would change the look of her work over time.

Metal sculpture created by Student Sculptor winner Jessica Smith at Brian Fell's Midsummer Metals workshop

The work she produces now show her inspiration and motivation to demonstrate the transparency of the construction process as an integral component of the final piece.

These pieces have been made since attending the course and show how her metal working skills have flourished and developed to create stunning effects on sheet steel.

 

 

Jessica loves how she can use metal to depict the patchwork effects of the dry-stone walls and fields of the rural northern landscape.

Metal manipulated by Jessica Smith

Since attending the metal sculpture course, Jessica has had her work accepted to appear in several exhibitions.

In July 2017 her work was showcased in a charity exhibition in her home town of Huddersfield to help raise money for the homeless charity, “Huddersfield Change project.” In January of this year her work was shown alongside her fellow third year students in the “Arts and Draught” exhibition at ‘Brew York’ on Walmgate in the heart of the city.

Jessica is certainly gaining a lot of respect within the art local art world and has had several pieces of her work selected to be included in the “ Ones to watch” emerging artist exhibition at Sunny Bank Mills, Leeds, which is on until April 12th – it is well worth the visit to have a look at her work alongside that of another  thirty four  emerging artists. If you cannot make it to Leeds before mid-April, the degree show at York St John University that exhibits this year’s graduating students’ work, will be held in York from June 8th. Do pop along if you get the chance.

Within the next year or so, Jessica hopes to do a master’s degree to extend her skills and knowledge, until then, she intends to keep herself active with her sculptures by applying for the ‘emerging artist’ place on the Scottish Sculpture Workshop’s summer residency. If successful, she will get an opportunity to immerse herself for a whole month in developing her sculpture techniques. We wish her all the very best of luck with her future endeavours and metals4U are thrilled to have been involved in introducing Jessica to the world of creating art from metal.

To see more of Jessica’s work, check out her new website and Instagram portfolios.

Getting to know Alec Steele

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

We’re excited to be working on some amazing projects with blacksmith and YouTube star, Alec Steele.

Alec is already a legend in the blacksmith world, even though he’s just 20 years old. If you aren’t one of the 725,000 people who subscribe to his YouTube channel, you should be, because you won’t believe the incredible things he makes.
YouTuber and blacksmith Alec Steele holding a hand forged sculpture of a hammer and anvil

Check out Alec’s Viking battle axe, or Damascus Rapier sword for an idea of his skills. He’s a true inspiration for anyone interested in getting into blacksmithing.

We wanted to get to know a little more about him, so we spoke to Alec about his current projects, his metalworking heroes and his love of PPE:

Q: How did you get into blacksmithing, Alec?
A: It became a hobby of mine age 11, after seeing a blacksmith demonstration at a county fair.

Q: What’s the piece of work you’re most proud of?
A: My million layer Damascus Katana! It took fourteen days to make and it taught me an enormous amount about blademaking and craftsmanship.

Q: What’s the one tool or piece of kit you couldn’t do without in your workshop?
A: My PPE. Over the last year or two I’ve become extremely committed to keeping myself as safe as possible and setting the correct example.

Protecting my lungs, eyes and ears is so important to me, because that means I can work tomorrow.

Although… the power hammer’s a close second!

Q: What else are you working on at the moment?
A: I’m currently working on a Damascus Rapier sword. The blade is over a metre long and extremely narrow. It’s been a real challenge but I love that.

Q: Who are your blacksmithing/metalworking heroes?
A: Claudio Bottero, This Old Tony, Brian Brazeal and Mareko Maumasi.

Q: What prompted you to start sharing your skills on YouTube?
A: As a means of growing my business and selling my products and courses when I still offered them. I never imagined it would grow into being just a content creator.

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to someone interested in starting blacksmithing?
A: Go and find a weekend blacksmithing class and get some knowledge. You’ll make great contacts for future learning opportunities and will be able to get back to your own workshop knowing exactly the tools you need to make or buy to get started. 

Visit our blacksmith page for all the tools and supplies you could ever need for your project.