Need help getting a metalworking starter kit

Hi, I'm trying to put together a gift for a relative, and I'd like to
ask for your help in selecting the items.
He's a recently-retired metallurgist, and has always wanted to get
into metalworking. In particular, he wants to eventually create metal
art of the type that is sold at craft fairs, etc. (He doesn't want to
restore cars or planes or anything.) Although he knows an awful lot
about the properties of various metals (being a metallurgist), he is a
complete beginner when it comes to metalworking.
So if we spend about $500 on a starter set, what should we get him? I
myself know nothing about this stuff, so I don't know if he should
start with steel, aluminum, or some other metal. I've seen one or two
kits on the web, but if they don't have everything he needs then I
must know what else to get him. Also, does he need a separate welding
setup or is a "torch" the same thing?
If it's not too much trouble, I'd really appreciate your
recommendations on the following items:
* Tools
Metal supplies
* Videos or books
Anything else
Rough cost estimates and pointers on where to buy this stuff would
also be great. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.
Reply to
Digital DJ
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Don't think I've ever seen a "metalworking starter set". Where did you see the ones you mentioned. Seeing them would help with more suggestions.
First question is, does he have any tools now? For the type of art that you mentioned a plasma cutter comes to mind. But you're not going to touch one for $500. $500 isn't going to go very far unless it is just simple hand tools, hence your knowledge about what he already has would lead you in that direction. But for $500 you could get an oxygen/acetylene (torch) outfit for welding and brazing with tanks and a cart. Find a local welding shop in your area, look in the yellow pages. Or if you tell us where you live, I'm sure someone here could direct you to a reputable place. Don't buy at a box store like Home Depot.
Some ideas for smaller stuff; ball pein hammers, chisels, punches, hack saw, drill motor, drill bit assortment, vise-grips, pliers, screw drivers, allen wrench sets, files. These are things I would think everyone would want and need. You could spend $500 and more just getting a good selection of these.
One good place with reasonable prices on line is Enco tools;
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They carry name brand items as well as their own "Enco" line which is generally good enough for the garage mechanic/metalworking guy.
Hope this helps. Lane
Reply to
Without knowing what processes he wants to utilize and with what materials, it'll be very hard to make any recommendations (not that I would be the person to do that). When my wife has bought hobby stuff for me over the years, she's either talked to my friends, asked me what I wanted or given me gift certificate. To be on the safe side, you could get him an Enco (or whatever) catalog and a gift certificate. That way you'll know he'll get exactly what he wants.
Reply to
Peter Grey
Thanks, all this info is really helpful.
The ones that looked closest to what I'm after are at:
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As far as I know, he has nothing other than the usual home assortment of screwdrivers & wrenches, drill, etc. Nothing specific to working with metal, though.
OK, how far off am I? Do plasma cutters cost in the thousands?
Many thanks for all your other suggestions. One more question... where do I get the metal stock itself? How much should I budget for that?
Reply to
Digital DJ
Decorative ironwork is more the province of the blacksmith than the machinist (see alt.crafts.blacksmithing). A basic set of tools would include a large anvil, hardies, fullers, an assortment of hammers, tongs, a coal or propane forge, a post vise, files, chisels, some sort of grinder, etc. You might stretch $500 to cover all that on the used market.
The blacksmith is said to be the only artisan who can make all his own tools. But practically he really needs as minimum starter tools an anvil and hammer. He can easily make his own forge. At that point, he can make the rest of his tools, though most people do buy many of them. Power tools can be useful to the blacksmith, but they aren't essential tools.
OTOH, if his idea of art is more along the lines of fabricating metal structures, then an oxyacetylene torch, a MIG welder, a plasma cutter, an assortment of grinders, metal bending machines, drill motors, clamps of all shapes and sizes, etc would be more essential tools. $500 isn't going to put much of a dent in that list.
Start him off easy with an oxyacetylene torch outfit and a copy of the Welder's Bible. (See your local welding supply shop. They'll have gas welding equipment, and will lease tanks of gas used by the torch. Total cost should be comfortably under $500.)
There are a number of projects in the Welder's Bible (as well as in a number of books published by the Lincoln Welding people), which should give him some ideas. Once he has the ability to weld and cut steel, he can make some of the other tools he'll need to fabricate more complex projects.
Of course if his idea of art is to make metal chess sets, or other metal "jewelry", then he'll need tools more in the machinist's line. That can get expensive fast if you buy things new on anything larger than the tabletop scale. Collecting and restoring older industrial machinery can become an engrossing hobby in and of itself, as many in this newsgroup can attest. For anyone on less than an unlimited budget, it is about the only practical way to obtain the full set of machines used in the trade.
Reply to
Gary Coffman
The Tin Man Tech sets are for those who want to shape sheet metal for making skin parts for cars and airplanes and take special skills to carry it off effectively. I doubt this is what your friend needs or wants. But hey, I've been wrong before. BTW I have personally met Kent White. He is very talented and a world renowned sheet metal worker besides a nice guy.
A decent plasma cutter starts out around $1500 and up.
The idea of a gift certificate would probably be best, and let him decide how to spend it.
Reply to
old man retired, an engineer.. he always wanted a metal working shop, so he went out and bought a new lathe, saw, mill, and cabinet after cabinet of tools.. he must have spendt thousands and he could afford it.. was in his basement where all the stuff was located and it was as neat as a pin... not one thing out of place.. he was in the hospital at the time... about one year later i saw his son... the old man died and the son was stuck with getting rid of all the stuff in the house... this was like 25 yrs. ago so dont ask about the tools i dont know.. his other son was an alcoholic and lived at home and always brought another drunk to the house who probably walked out with the antiques that were throughtout the house along with the tools in the basement.?????
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