Copper Wire Willow Tree

Matt Sipes wraps four cables of copper wire to form a tree trunk and then twists the wire to form branches for his willow tree.

Materials and Tools:

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4 yards insulated 200-amp copper entrance cable, 20 strands of wire, 1/2" thick
scrap copper wire from the cable
hacksaw
vise
utility knife
bolts
sandpaper
spray bottle with salt and water mixture
needle-nose pliers
8" diameter round saw blade
arc welder
welding safety equipment (hood, gloves)
clamp
3 nuts
propane torch
safety glasses
measuring tape
wire cutters

Steps:

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1. Cut the 200-amp entrance cable wire into four 36-inch pieces using a hacksaw. Secure the cable in a vise to hold it while you saw. Wear safety glasses.

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2. Cut through the insulation along the length of each piece of cable with a utility knife and remove the insulation by pulling it away from the inside wire with pliers.

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3. Bundle the four cable pieces together by tying them with short pieces of wire. Twist the short tying wires with pliers to lock them in place.

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4. Starting at the bottom of the bundle, wrap a single copper around the four cables. This will be the trunk of the tree.

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5. Keep wrapping until you reach one of the twisted tying wires. Cut it off with wire cutters.

6. Continue wrapping the trunk with a single wire. Add more wire if you run out by pushing the end into the bundle of cables and starting with another wire.

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7. Wrap the trunk for about 6 inches, untwist the wires in one of the cables and bend them back toward the trunk. This will form the first branch.

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8. Continue wrapping the trunk with a copper wire for a couple more inches. Untwist another cable for the second tree branch, bend it back toward the bottom of the trunk and continue wrapping the trunk. Repeat for the third cable. Past the third cable, wrap the trunk a short way up the fourth cable and stop wrapping.

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9. Stick the bottom of the trunk through the center hole of an 8-inch round saw blade. Turn the saw blade over so the bottom is facing up. Clamp the saw blade to the worktable. Use an arc welder and welding protection equipment to weld the tree trunk to the saw blade.

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10. Weld three nuts to the bottom of the saw blade for the base of the tree.

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11. Remove the saw blade from the clamp. Turn the tree right side up. Unwind the strands of wire and twist them into branches.

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12. Heat the wires with a propane torch to add a beautiful red patina to the copper wire willow tree.

13. Patina the saw blade by lightly sanding and spraying with salt water.

Matt Sipes is a happy environmentalist who loves living in Oregon. After earning his art degree, he moved to the artist-friendly city of Portland. When he isn’t making art with construction waste, he loves to be outdoors.

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