Falling in love with Plasma Cutting

Big Projects, Beginning to End

The last few weeks has been full of plasma cutting, stretching, grinding, and dancing! I think I’m falling in love with my plasma cutter.

I’ve been learning to steady my hand, and relearning that everything needs to be clamped down. Everything.

Last time I posted I had just spray painted my stencils on the metal. I went back over every shape with soap stone do I could see it under my mask. I used a shade 8 lens for my welding helmet (I normally use shade 9). Then it was time for deep breathes and steady hands. Not my strong suit, but I eventually got into the groove.


I failed to clamp my work down when plasma cutting, thinking it was too thick to warp. HA! Lucky for me, hitting it with a hammer leveled it out fairly well.

I left out all the photos of me grinding the slag off the backs of each plate. I spent nearly 4 days with my angle grinder and old Cubatron disks. Old because they are expensive and because they were catching in the corners of the metal shapes and tearing apart. My friend Eric Bushnell dropped by on Friday (I was just finishing my last one) and showed me that whacking the slag with a cold chisel is much more effective, and free. Thanks Eric! Feel free to drop by sooner next time 🙂


Once all the sheets were cut, I mounted them onto the plywood backdrop I had been using to hang my paper blue prints as I built the tree. The 3 plywood boards are framed out with 2 x 4s and  connected with hinges. Once I had screwed the metal sheets onto them (re flattening the sheets and aligning the seams) I was able to pivot the boards to get the perfect angle for welding.  Once the seams were welded the metal sheets held their flattened shape.

In the next couple days I will mount the entire canopy to the branches so it can be removed and reattached. This will help with the weight of the sculpture during transportation and make it easier to powder coat the branches and foliage 2 different colors.

It felt so good to step back and see the the tree taking form.





































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I create large metal sculptures for public art, smaller items for you and your home, and teach hands on metal workshops in Gainesville, FL. Visit LeslieTharp.com