How to Build Metal Sculptures. Metal sculptures are created in a wide range of styles, from freestanding to relief, cast from bronze or created with scrap metal.
Design your sculpture on paper. Draw the parts of the sculpture that you will need to cut out to build it. For instance, if you are designing a sculpture of an elephant, you will need to draw each ear, the trunk, the legs, the tail and the body.
Purchase the metal you need to build your sculpture. Look for sheet metal if your project requires flat pieces. You can also search for scrap metal at the nearest junkyard or scrap metal yard.
Look for metal pieces that are about 1/8 of an inch thick. Anything thicker than this will be difficult to bend.
Calculate the measurements required for each piece of your sculpture. Use a paint pen to mark the outlines of the components of your design, according to your measurements, onto the sheet metal.
Make your metal pliable if necessary. Hold a piece of metal with a pair of tongs or place on a safe surface, such as bricks. Heat the metal with a propane touch until it glows a dull red.
Transfer the metal to your work surface and secure it with a bench vice. If you have no need to cut anything out of the sheet and will be using the whole piece, then you can bend the metal into the shape you need at this point. You can also use a hammer for this.
Cut the pieces out with a plasma torch. Direct the flame to a spot just outside the outline.
Shape the pieces as needed. You can use your hands for this but make sure that the metal is cool enough to touch.
Assemble the pieces. Select the points on each metal piece at which you will join corresponding pieces. Weld the metal pieces together with the plasma torch.
Finish your sculpture by applying a 2-part epoxy acrylic coating all over. This will give the sculpture a glossy appearance as well as protect it from nature's elements and rust.
Selecting scrap metal from junkyards and scrap yards is the least expensive way of obtaining metal for your sculptures.
Always use safety precautions when working with hot metal. Wear leather gloves and protect your eyes and face with a shield when welding. Wear a mask to avoid inhaling the fumes. Build your metal sculptures in a well-ventilated room.