Metal Tree End Table
Alton Dean welds metal into an end table and a cuts a tree design and colors the tree and sky with a unique process.
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Materials and Tools:
16 square feet of 18-gauge cold rolled mild steel
14" x 12" of 10-gauge hot rolled mild steel
Famowood Glaze Coat pour-on high gloss epoxy
POR-15 Glisten PC two-part marine epoxy paint
Metal Finishes Plus copper plate acid
Metal Finishes Plus brown tarnish
Metal Finishes Plus copper insta-rust
Metal Finishes Plus rust arrest
black permanent marker
2" disposable paintbrushes
respirator, goggles, safety glasses, face shield, rubber gloves
sheet metal snips
1/16" mild steel filler rod
plasma-arc cutting torch
hand held propane torch
box-and-pan hand brake
angle grinders with 80- and 50-grit disks
orbital sander with 80- and 120-grit disks
ball peen hammer
1. Lay out the pattern for the table base on cardboard using a big radius with the top and bottom straight, making sure both sides of the pattern are exactly the same. Then cut the pattern out with a utility knife. Trace the pattern onto the 18-gauge cold rolled steel.
2. Clamp the steel to the work surface and cut it with a plasma cutter, making sure to keep the pieces exactly the same. Wear safety glasses and gloves when using the plasma cutter.
3. Roll the pieces for the base using the brake machine to get a smooth roll until the pieces fit tightly together when at a 90-degree angle from each other. Wipe down the pieces with acetone to remove any oil.
4. Wearing a safety hood and gloves, tack-weld all four pieces together at the corners using a MIG welder. Tack-weld the 10-gauge plate to the bottom of the base.
5. Once tacked and squared, finish welding all the seams with the TIG welder and mild steel fill rod.
6. Sand all the welds down with an angle grinder until they are no longer visible. Sand the entire piece with an orbital sander until smooth.
7. Set the base aside — keeping fingerprints off the metal.
8. Cut a rectangular piece out of 18-gauge cold rolled 18" x 14" steel. Notch the corners with tin snips.
9. Bend the rectangular piece in the hand brake to form a 12" x 16" pan with a hem edge all the way around the top. Weld the corners and sand to the same finish as the base.
10. Then center the pan, open side away from the base, onto the top of the base and stitch-weld them together using the MIG welder.
11. With respirator, goggles and rubber gloves in place, brush copper plate acid over the entire piece. Then brush brown tarnish on the table. Wait about one minute and then rinse with water. Spray on rust arrest, wait 30 seconds, rinse again. Quickly dry the entire piece with compressed air. Coat the entire piece with clear marine epoxy and set aside to let cure (about 72 hours).
12. Cut a piece of 18-gauge cold rolled steel to 11-3/4" x 15-3/4". Draw out a rough sketch of the tree and horizon line with a marker.
13. Cut out the tree design with the plasma cutter.
14. Wipe down the steel with acetone. Sand the sky portion with a 50-grit disk, the tree with 80-grit disk, and orbital sand the ground portion with 120-grit disk.
15. Heat the sky portion until the desired color is achieved with a propane torch.
16. Brush copper insta-rust onto the tree and rinse with water. Let the tree air dry until a layer of rust appears on the surface. Spray with rust arrest, rinse with water and let air dry again. Brush copper plate onto the ground portion, then brush on brown tarnish. Rinse, rust-arrest, rinse and blow-dry.
17. With all three pieces of the picture colored and the base clear coated and dry, set the piece in the pan in the top of the base. Make sure that the pieces fit close together and don't protrude out of the pan.
18. Mix the pour-on epoxy and carefully pour into the pan. Do not overfill. Wait five minutes and then run the propane torch over the top to get rid of any air bubbles. Let cure for 72 hours and the metal tree end table masterpiece is finished.
Alton Dean makes his living working with sheet metal in a very "left brain" type of way — he does duct work for heating and air-conditioning. He loves the materials and tools he works with by day and has put them to a very "right brain" use in his off hours.