Recycled metal art plans

In today’s consumer society, the product life cycle is ever-shorter both because of poor production quality and the manufacturers’ intention to force you to replace bought product with a new „advanced“ one as soon as possible. Such way of thinking, along with a growing number of people on the planet is cause that the huge amount of stuff is being thrown away, although it can be repaired and used, or it can be disassembled and then some of the parts can be used again. Wealthier societies have developed various types of recycling, but since majority of people live in less rich and developed societies, the lack of recycling, money and citizens’ awareness are causing an enormous pollution of the planet. Fortunately, awareness about material recycling grows throughout the planet. A small but very noticeable contribution made various artists, craftsmen and enthusiasts, by turning scrap metal into work of art, useful thing or an interesting decoration for home and garden. Usually, this type of recycling is named recycled metal art, scrap metal art or welding art.

There are many items that you can make on this way:
- Scrap metal furniture
- Scrap metal sculptures
- Nuts and bolts figures
- Scrap metal indoor decorations
- Scrap metal outdoor decorations
- Scrap metal art pieces

and other useful things.

Recycled metal art or scrap metal art is a great hobby, which in time can grow into a small business that is a very good opportunity for gaining additional income. Recycled metal art requires very little investment in tools and materials for the production, and does not even require a special workshop.

To deal with recycled metal art you need only a few simple tools like:
- Basic metalworking hand tools,
- Holding tools (clamps, vises...)
- Welding, brazing and/or soldering tools
- Bending machines or bending tools for sheet metal or wire
- Drilling machine...
- Safety equipment

All of these tools are inexpensive and can be easily obtained. Basic information that you need to make Recycled metal art can be found in the METALWORKING BOOKS category of our website.

As a material for the recycled metal art you can use various scraps like:
- Pieces of metal from metal junkyards (scrap yards)
- Unused metal objects around your home
- Dumpsters behind welding shops (always ask permission before rummaging around, especially on private property)
- Standard parts and fasteners.

You do not have to be a top welder or metalworker to make scrap metal art products; all you need is basic knowledge and creativity.

In dealing with Recycled metal art you will mainly use metals that are commonly used in industry like steel, copper, aluminum, brass, bronze, zinc... Operations that you will most frequently apply are: cutting, bending, drilling and joining the metal parts.

Be careful – small metal figures made this way are not child toys; they are not intended for children to play with them.

We are presenting you some ideas for making Recycled metal artistic objects:

Nuts and bolts Chess is completely made out of standard parts (fasteners). Standard parts are widely used and you can find them easily in the workshop, junkyards or in local hardware store. You can join the parts together with metal glue, or with welding, brazing or soldering technique. You can use a pre-made chess board or – as we presented in the plan – you can create a chess board out of the thin square sheets, which you will join on a flat board made out of metal or some other material. You can make figures out of metal with different colors, or you can paint half of the figures in black, to obtain a difference between “black” and “white” figures.

Nuts and bolts chess plan
Nuts and bolts Chess - Parts list
Nuts and bolts chess plan - Parts list
Nuts and bolts Chess - 2D drawing
Nuts and bolts chess plan - 2D drawing

Scrap metal garden snail: You can make very interesting snail figure out of the flat metal bar and nuts and washers, which you can easily fasten with screws on the wooden pillar of a pergola or any other place in your garden or on terrace. You can paint the snail anyway you like.

Scrap metal garden snail plan
Scrap metal garden snail plan - 2D drawing

Scrap metal garden snail plan - 2D drawing


Scrap metal dog figure

Scrap metal dog figure plan Scrap metal dog figure plan - 2D drawing
Scrap metal dog figure plan - 2D drawing

Standard parts and scrap metal offer endless opportunities for experimenting while making art and decorative pieces, but also sculptures that can have some practical use. With a little bit of imagination you can make figures of various animals, insects, flowers, cars or bikes. Very interesting objects are the figures of people representing different occupations, athletes or creatures from fairy tales. This way, you can make a baker, chimney sweeper, skier, tennis player, musician, fairy, witch and almost any occupation you desire. This type of figures can also serve as a pen holder, cell phone holder, paper towel holder in your kitchen, or whatever comes to your mind.  

You can join the metal parts using several techniques:
• Mechanical Interlocking
• Mechanical Connection (Screws, Nuts, Bolts, Rivets)
• Gluing or Chemical Bonding
• Welding Methods (friction and diffusion)
• Brazing Procedures
• Soldering Processes

Joining metal into scrap metal art is most often done by welding, soldering and brazing technique.

Welding technique requires the most energy, because it has to reach melting point of metal by heating. Melting the metal connecting parts leads to their fusion and forming of joints. Because of this, the welding technique is not suitable for joining the thin parts. Besides that, welding is also not suitable for joining two metal parts with different melting points. The advantage of this technique is that joint made by welding is very firm.

Brazing requires less energy than welding, but more than soldering technique. With brazing technique the metal parts are heated above 450°C. Brazing technique is suitable for joining the thin parts, or for joining dissimilar metals. The joint made by brazing is very firm.  

Soldering technique uses the lowest amount of energy, because the parts are heated below 450°C. Soldering technique is suitable for joining the thin parts or for joining dissimilar metals. The joint made with soldering is not firm enough for load-bearing constructions.

Before you choose one of these techniques, you need to analyze what kind of metal assemblies you will make, and which materials you will be using. The model that you want to create as well as its dimensions will determine the type and thickness of material, and that will determine by which technique you will be joining them.

You can examine the metal joining techniques in our category Welding, soldering and brazing books. You can also find excellent video tutorials on the YouTube website.

After you finish your project, you will have to grind sharp and rough edges. After that, you should clean surfaces and sand them if you want to paint the project. Otherwise, you can leave the bare metal.