I recently received an order for six reclaimed wood + steel bar stools, which I was super excited about. I'm still excited about building them (they're close to being finished), but man...6 stools ---> 72 pieces of steel ---> 384 little 1" welds (and that's if all my welds are 100% perfect on the first try...which never happens). To say it gets a little tedious is a pretty fair statement. And, I've run out of welding wire on this project...twice. Never had that happen before on a job.
But...the stools are coming along pretty well. I only get a chance to weld maybe once every few weeks, so every time a project calls for some welding, the first hour or two is spent sort of shaking off the rust. After that...it's like riding a bike.
I got started on the project by putting together the seat blanks, which are made from reclaimed 2x4s that came out of a house in Fox Park, a neighborhood in St. Louis, MO named after the Fox Brothers Manufacturing Company. There's a decent amount of work involved in putting the blanks together, starting with denailing the lumber and then using some combination of the jointer, planer, miter saw and table saw to get everything ready for glue.
When assembling the blanks, the only thing I really try to do, appearance-wise, is make sure the left and right sides of each blank have some sort of visual interest. Some reclaimed 2x4s are more interesting than others, and given that I'm partial to the plaster marks, anything with oxidized nail holes and plaster marks is a prime candidate for being an edge piece.
After getting the reclaimed 2x4 chunks in the above pic glued and into the clamps, I started dicing up 1" steel tube. The dry cut saw makes pretty quick work of cutting the steel, but grinding the to-be-welded surfaces clean, that takes some time over the course of 72 pieces of steel. Regardless, with the steel cut I went ahead and made a welding jig; with the bones of each side of the stool frame being identical, having a jig makes repetitive work pretty efficient (provided the steel is cut accurately). I also made a template for outlining where, on the seat blanks, I'd need to carve out a butt recess.
Then...I welded. And welded. And welded. I'm still not done - only because I ran out of wire late enough in the day that going to get more didn't make a ton of sense - but I'm close. I don't have a great process ironed out for all the welds these things require; the template makes the preliminary tack welding pretty simple, but once all 4 sides are tacked together there are a lot of corners and whatnot that can be a little tricky to reach comfortably. Similarly, given that it's not a great idea to weld a whole bunch in any one area at any one time (don't want to overheat and warp anything), it's pretty easy to weld a little, rotate the frame, weld a little, rotate the frame, weld a little...and wind up missing a weld or two, which doesn't get noticed until it's time to grind all the welds flat.
Anyhow...I'll have the welding done tomorrow. In the meantime, since I was without welding wire late in the day today, I started carving the seats tonight. 3 of them are done, 3 more to go; the carving process isn't real complicated, but sloppiness with the carving can lead to a silly amount of sanding, so I try to be halfway methodical with how I go about using the grinder and carbide cup. Those seat blanks are made from old, reclaimed pine, and it doesn't take a whole lot of false moves with the grinder - which spins stupid fast - and carbide cup - an ultra aggressive wheel that spins on said grinder - to gouge the wood pretty good.
That's where things stand...like most jobs...lots of things partially knocked out...and alllll the loose ends will get tied up in one marathon work session tomorrow...