Introduction: Symmetry Amidst Chaos

About: Someday, I would like to create something that is so commonly used, it's not even considered genius.

While traveling though various cities of the of the United States West Coast there is a sense of Chaos and Symmetry. Glass, metal and wood is my medium, as I wanted to capture these elements in a frame that shows structure, support, color and beauty, with variations of unpredictability. Follow me into this wanderlust of metal work.



  • Wood 1" Thick scrap of walnut
  • Scrap 1" angle iron
  • Antique garage door pully wheel made of cast iron 3.5"
  • Handful of horseshoe nails or square nails
  • 4 glass marbles
  • 2 conical springs
  • Super glue
  • Copper sulfate spray


  • 4" Angle grinder with (80 grit flap disk, metal cutoff wheel and a wire wheel)
  • Drill
  • 90 degree drill attachment
  • Counter sink bit for drill
  • Paint pen for marking metal
  • Sand paper
  • Wood finish/ paint brush
  • 4" Drill bit hole saw
  • Stick, Tig or Mig welder (GTAW or GMAW) -not photographed
  • Table saw -not photographed

Safety Gear:

  • Coveralls
  • Face shield/ welding helmet
  • Leather gloves
  • Hearing protection

Step 1: Measure and Cut Metal

  • Determine the size of your frame, I cut my two vertical scraps of angle iron at 26 inches long and to lateral sections at 8 inches long.

  • I marked off one corner edge of the 8" lateral sections of angle iron to 1" from the edge of my vertical sections. This edge will leave a notch for the vertical angle iron to butt up creating a flush corner angle (See photo above at red arrows).

  • Weld these seems on the inside and outside of each corner this will create the best strength for the joint. I set my machine MIG-.030 wire at 18 gauge (125 in/min at 14.3 volts) Use the 80 grit flap disk to blend and smooth the outside welds. ( I'm a grinder, not a welder trick).

Note: Welding is trial by fire, depending on your material type and thickness. These are just settings that worked for me, all machines hit a little different- use proper safety gear and know your equipment.

Step 2: Drill and Cut Wood

  • Using a drill with a 4" hold saw bit, drill into your wood material of choice- I used Walnut . Drill this hole before you size your final square block, this gives better stability to the work piece. TIP: For a clean cut place scrap wood under this hole, once the pilot drill tip punches through flip the wood and finish the 4" hole this prevents any splintering or rough edges.

  • Dry fit the Antique pully wheel inside to verify fit. This wheel is 3.5 in diameter so it leaves about a 1/4" gap around the perimeter.

  • Using a table saw or handsaw cut the block to size. This block is 4.5" square

Step 3: Setting the Pully Wheel in the Block

I needed to suspend the pully wheel inside the block without welding because I wanted it to spin and move freely. (The wanderlust part of the journey). I needed to create tension with the marbles against the "race or rim" of the wheel. Using springs I created a ball detent with the marbles on one side, this let me "clip in the wheel" as they would push in deeper than the two marbles that were stationary in their opposing holes.

  • Using a 90 degree drill attachment and a conical counter sink bit to create four equal holes at the for interior spots show above in the photo. Just by dumb luck I had marbles that fit this size. The two lower holes should only be as deep as 1/3 of the marbles diameter. This leaves a 1/3 in the hole, 1/3 in the race and a 1/3 exposed in the gap.

  • Now the two upper holes can be bored out as deep as 2/3 the diameter of the marble to accommodate the conical spring creating a ball detent.

  • Next super glue two marbles on the conical spring as shown above in the photo.

  • At this point I sanded the wood finish with 240 grit sandpaper and added 2 coats of Urethane then wait to dry for 1 day.

  • Now place the springs with glued on marbles in the larger holes and compress the springs by pushing the wheel race against the protruding marble heads. This is done by holding the wheel at a 45 degree angle while the block is on a flat surface.

  • Next place the other two free marbles in the pully wheel race by lowering the wheel into the blocks hole keeping tension. Line the the marbles on the race with the 1/3 holes in the block, press in and release tension from ball detents above. (See photos above with arrows).

Step 4: Creating Chaos

Horse shoe nails are unique by their square or diamond shaped heads with a flat and tapered shaft. This multi faceted shaped nail reminds me of some road warrior Mad Max machine, perfect for Chaos!

  • Weld a random assortment of nails to the frame in your own unique way showing disorder. Tips of the nails are very thin and sharp, minimal heat/ time is needed to tac-weld these to each other.

  • Next leave a gap about 2/3 up so there is room to place the block and wheel to dry fit accordingly.

Step 5: Attaching the Block

I wanted the block to protrude out half way of its thickness past the Chaos above and below to give it a better 3D effect. This was done by setting horseshoe nails 1/4" from the top and bottom at the thickest part of the wooden block at the blocks midline.

  • Measure 1/2" to find the middle line of the block on the left and right side.

  • Next place horseshoe nail 1/4" inch down form the top and bottom into the center line as shown above in the photos with the arrow. Set nails deep enough to fit snug in the frame as shown in next the step.

  • Using the calipers measure equal distance 5/8" so the block is center from the two vertical supports of the frame.

  • Weld the 4 supports from the block to the interior of the frame as shown above.

Step 6: Final Patina

Final patina is a copper sulfate spray that gives mild steel a bit of a copper oxidized layer.

I show a before spray and after spray in above photos. I only sprayed the area below the block and wheel to show transition between one point to the next and the variety within Chaos.

  • Spray with copper sulfate rinse with clean water and air dry.
  • Spray with clear coat aerosol (like Krylon or Rust-oleum) to inhibit further rusting.

Cheers! Thanks for riding shotgun on this journey.

Metal Contest

This is an entry in the
Metal Contest