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Thread: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

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    Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Can you believe it's been a year since I naively embarked of the Nautilus project? (Still standing by the way )

    I've had a real thing for totem poles since seeing a bunch of them up in the Pacific northwest years ago. I've decided to try and make my own out of steel: gas bottles and lots of scrap parts and pieces.

    Step one, picked up a used bottle for $20 and it will be the first spirit at the base. Managed to get the valve out with a big monkey wrench and a bigger hammer. Later today I'll strip the paint off it and start to layout an image. This will be slow going - I really want to take my time, think everything through, and do my best to make it epic. Feel free to follow along if you're extremely bored .

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    Yeswelder MIG-205DS
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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Shootr,
    "This will be slow going - I really want to take my time, think everything through, and do my best to make it epic. "
    Since both the Tlingit and Haida totems have some fairly distinctive 'forms' and 'patterned spirits' and vertical organization? Do you have a sketch/plan/design that will allow you to follow those forms?

    Do you envision creating your own spirit images? Or will you be supporting the historic/indigenous/original spirit forms? One entire route of design might be to find your own images of the spirits these wooden sculptures praised; another somewhat traditionalist view of the designs might be to adhere to the classic forms and make those in metal? Either design ideal might be worthwhile?

    Just asking about the planning stages of your project creating and building a Spruce Totem in metal; as an integral part of "doing your best"?

    Cheers,
    Kevin Morin
    Kenai, AK

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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    It won't be faithful to any one "tribe" or event. As I've cataloged various examples I identified individual forms that I believe I can create with my limited skillset. Maybe it could be seen as a respectful homage to what totem poles mean to those that create them. At least that is the spirit it is being built with.
    Yeswelder MIG-205DS
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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    I stripped as much of the paint off as I dare (still de-gassing the tank) so I could draw layout lines to help maintain symmetry. Flexible magnetic tape did the trick.

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    A little test to see how copper soldered to steel looked and worked. Successful.

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    This is a picture of what I am going to try first (minus the fish hat).
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    Yeswelder MIG-205DS
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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    This is a cool project. I'm following.

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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    extremely bored and following...
    Richard
    West coast of Florida

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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    To help stabilize it, you might benefit from putting a bag of ready-mix concrete down the valve hole.

    Definitely watching. I have a 100# tank sitting in the yard waiting for something to happen.... and this might just be it!

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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Quote Originally Posted by VaughnT View Post
    To help stabilize it, you might benefit from putting a bag of ready-mix concrete down the valve hole.

    Definitely watching. I have a 100# tank sitting in the yard waiting for something to happen.... and this might just be it!
    You read my mind - but I figured sand would be easier.
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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    From the picture it looks like dividing it up in 3 vertical sections is about right. I bought a bunch of magnets to make layout easier. 2-3/8 fence post for arms and legs, gears for the eyes. Probably try 3 or 4" post/tube for the arms/legs instead.

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    Gears are probably too big, tried bearing races and that seems to fit a little better.

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    Possible bigger bearing races cut, flattened, and shaped for the eyebrows, and 1/8" rod to outline the eyes.

    Question: I need to flatten just the area where the eyes are. How would you go about doing that? And are them darn caps zinc?
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    I don't have and won't buy an oxyacetylene kit. My first thought is get another forge burner and mount it on a purpose built tripod, and aim right at the area, then flatten with a hammer.
    Last edited by Shootr; 04-06-2021 at 10:00 PM.
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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Shootr - this is very cool - looking fwd to watching this evolve!

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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Quote Originally Posted by Shootr View Post

    I don't have and won't buy an oxyacetylene kit. My first thought is get another forge burner and mount it on a purpose built tripod, and aim right at the area, then flatten with a hammer.
    Why do you need heat? just hit it, that is thin steel,, it will flatten cold.
    Jesse James works the motorcycle gas tanks cold,,,

    Unless you have one,, you might need a bigger hammer,,,

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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Quote Originally Posted by SweetMK View Post
    Why do you need heat? just hit it, that is thin steel,, it will flatten cold.
    Jesse James works the motorcycle gas tanks cold,,,

    Unless you have one,, you might need a bigger hammer,,,
    I just wasn't sure I could. As rook as I am I don't want to assume wrong and screw it up after a bunch of work. I think the tank is a little thicker than what a gas tank is probably made with. So you think I can mash it in just where I want without caving in a big area. (I'm not king kong so it's not like I'll overpower the steel...)

    Tonight I fooled around trying to make feet.
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    Took a few tries to get this. I think with a little more refinement it'll work.
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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Quote Originally Posted by Shootr View Post
    Question: I need to flatten just the area where the eyes are. How would you go about doing that? And are them darn caps zinc?
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    I don't have and won't buy an oxyacetylene kit. My first thought is get another forge burner and mount it on a purpose built tripod, and aim right at the area, then flatten with a hammer.
    The area you want flattened needs to be cut out, flattened, and then welded back in with some gussets to fill the voids. If you just try banging it flat, it'll crumple and be far more work than you want. Remember, it's following a curve and you want to make it a straight line. The shortest distance between two points being a straight line means that you have too much material there to simply bash it flat.

    By removing that section and flattening it out, you also get the benefit of making it very easy to work on when you're doing the eyes, brows and nose ridge.


    All the caps I've seen are galvanized.

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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Most residential type fence caps are aluminum. Commercial grade are galvanized.

    Those look Home Depot grade, so probably aluminum. Hit one with an arc & find out....

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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Kool project!! Also, beginning to look a little like R2D2 from Star Wars! LOL

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  28. #16
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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Cool project, Shootr! Lots of trial and error and learning.

    I KNOW you’re having fun along the way


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    :

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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Shootr, I have seen steel domed pipe caps, you may be able to find them the right size to fit the fence posts, the decorative post caps are very likely cast zinc.
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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Quote Originally Posted by VaughnT View Post
    The area you want flattened needs to be cut out, flattened, and then welded back in with some gussets to fill the voids. If you just try banging it flat, it'll crumple and be far more work than you want. Remember, it's following a curve and you want to make it a straight line. The shortest distance between two points being a straight line means that you have too much material there to simply bash it flat.

    By removing that section and flattening it out, you also get the benefit of making it very easy to work on when you're doing the eyes, brows and nose ridge.


    All the caps I've seen are galvanized.
    Thank you sir, I was hoping you would weigh in on this. That's what I was trying to reconcile - where does the extra steel go when it gets pushed into a smaller space.
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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Quote Originally Posted by Lis2323 View Post
    Cool project, Shootr! Lots of trial and error and learning.

    I KNOW you’re having fun along the way


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    Thanks man, it is fun and I will learn more about fabricating on this project than any of the others.
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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Quote Originally Posted by VaughnT View Post
    The area you want flattened needs to be cut out, flattened, and then welded back in with some gussets to fill the voids. If you just try banging it flat, it'll crumple and be far more work than you want. Remember, it's following a curve and you want to make it a straight line. The shortest distance between two points being a straight line means that you have too much material there to simply bash it flat.

    By removing that section and flattening it out, you also get the benefit of making it very easy to work on when you're doing the eyes, brows and nose ridge.
    I've always had a thing for moai too:

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    If I cut my tank across the brow line only, could I then hammer in the area around the eyes and put a gusset in the top only? Would a vertical cut behind the nose be needed too? I plan on making the nose out of sheet metal and welding it onto the bottle. Seems like it would have a smoother transition down towards the cheeks.
    Yeswelder MIG-205DS
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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Big step tonight - I made two things that kinda look alike ��

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    I'm very much enjoying the slower pace I'm taking on this. Couple hours here and there after work - peaceful.
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  38. #22
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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Shootr, if you can use the galvanized caps, just give them a soak overnight in vinegar, or a quick soak in muriatic acid. Wash in baking soda solution and dry quickly to prevent flash rust.

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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Quote Originally Posted by Shootr View Post
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    If I cut my tank across the brow line only, could I then hammer in the area around the eyes and put a gusset in the top only? Would a vertical cut behind the nose be needed too? I plan on making the nose out of sheet metal and welding it onto the bottle. Seems like it would have a smoother transition down towards the cheeks.
    I've got plans to forge a Moai with some 1" square bar I have in the scrap pile.

    You'll certainly have to cut across the brow line, but that won't allow you to sink the rest of the body down to form the cheeks and nose. Or, better to say it won't allow you to do it easily, especially since you don't have a torch for controlled heating. You can certainly sink complex shapes, but it's tough going. Bowls, fenders and gas tanks are all shaped from flat sheets, so we know it works. With the tools you have, though, it'd be a thorough pain in the tuckas.

    Here's a pic of a Moai form made from thin plywood.

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    Pretending that it's made from steel, those black lines do a pretty fair job of showing how the various parts need to be cut and/or bent in order to get the face looking right. You've got 90% of it already done from the factory, but getting the face finished is going to require a lot of tweaking. Could be done with some relief cuts and spot-heating with the torch, but you only have half of that equation. Even if you did have a torch, it'd leave you with a ton of extra steel to remove from the edges before everything would fit together. We're back to that shortest distance between two points thing.

    Here's the video so you can watch the form going together and maybe get a few ideas on how you need to cut the face area for best effect.



    The nose/face junction will be a bugger to get looking clean, but it's doable. I'd keep the nose wide and flat so the joint where it hits the cheeks is as obtuse as possible. That'll let you get in there "easily" with a round-edge flap disk on your angle grinder.

    Of course, you're already creating a ton of tight spots that'll need a die grinder and burrs, so.....

    Overall, there's nothing to it but to do it.

    You've got the tools, skills and patience, so it's just a matter of taking it one bite at a time --- just like eating an elephant!

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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Quote Originally Posted by Shootr View Post
    ...could I then hammer in the area around the eyes and put a gusset in the top only? Would a vertical cut behind the nose be needed too? I plan on making the nose out of sheet metal and welding it onto the bottle.
    While we're talking about hammering faces.....


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    Re: Shootr's New Adventure - Totem Pole Build

    Something planer like a moai, I would look for a Pepakura pattern (folded paper) and scale it up...

    https://www.artstation.com/artwork/9e5x6N



    Even if you choose to “round thing out” Pepakura would give you an easy sorting place.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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