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Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metal The official publication of the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association

July/August 2004 $6.00 US

Job Profiles

A Landmark Fish Sculpture page 47 48

Tips & Tactics

Finishing stainless, pg. 11

Shop Talk

A peek at the AWS show, pg. 16

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July/August 2004 Vol. 45, No. 4

Employees reach for the stars. See pg. 38.

A light fixture takes a spin. See pg. 36.

Member Talk

Tips & Tactics

Biz Side

A recap on metal processing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Tips on handling metal, with particular emphasis on stainless steel.

Employee incentive program yields quality production . . . . . . 38 A NOMMA firm uses a “star” reward system to motivate workers.

By Kane Behling

By Rachel Squires Bailey

In-depth info on a popular shop tool . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 The answers to common questions about the Tracker CNC Cutting System. By Ken Glendinning

Special Feature NOMMA Board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Two new directors join the Board. Shop Talk Getting FIRED UP at the AWS show . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 A first-hand glimpse at the latest welding products and supplies. By John L. Campbell

Maximizing your ironworker’s potential . . . . . . . . . 28 A station-by-station look at the handy features an ironworker has to offer. By Mark Pearlman

Spinning is chosen to fabricate chandelier . . . . . . . . 36 A metal spinning firm produces a giant aluminum ring for a theater lobby.

Taking the giant leap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64 If you have recently started a new business or plan to do so, learn about the “Top 10” mistakes to avoid. By Jay Hearst

Industry suppliers share their insight on the steel crises . . . . . 44 Three suppliers discuss the complex factors behind rising steel prices.

Understanding worker psyche is a key to keeping talent . . . . . . 67 Use regular surveys to determine what makes workers leave AND what makes Compiled by Rachel Squires Bailey them stay. By Lonnie Harvey, Jr.

Job Profiles A fisherman’s son reels in a landmark fish sculpture ....47 Optimism, patience, and persistence help create an interactive sculpture.

Don’t let inflation chip away at profits . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 While steel prices are getting attention now, general inflation is taking its toll as well.

By David Tonnesen

Winning big with project managment processes ..............54 An innovative management system helps to streamline a major project. By Bill Beavers & Curt Witter

Providing the right fit for your client’s ecosystem ..........................59 This NOMMA member spends extra time to capture the “feel” of his client’s environment. By Byron M. Wood

By William J. Lynott

What’s Hot! Nationwide Suppliers . . . . . . . . . . . 76 Biz Briefs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 Coming Events

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82

NOMMA Chapters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 Literature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 People . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 Classifieds. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91

President’s Letter . . . . . . . 6 Editor’s Letter . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Reader’s Letters . . . . . . . . . 9 Fab Feedback . . . . . . . . . . 94 Once the planning ends, Enter your outstanding A special thanks and You can’t beat the Ellis 12000 the hard work begins. project in Top Job. understanding metal choices. drill press. Cover photo: Designed and fabricated by the artist, this codfish sculpture has scale-like rotors that spin in the wind and a 30-inch eye that changes colors to indicate weather conditions. Fabricated from stainless steel pipe and 11-gauge sheet, the fish weighs 3,800 pounds and is 45 feet long, 28 feet tall, and 5 feet wide. Approx. labor time: 1,500 hrs. Fabricator: Quantum Design, Somerville, MA. Photo: Asia Kepka Photography.

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President’s Letter

Dedicated to the success of our members and industry. NOMMA OFFICERS President Curt Witter Big D Metalworks Dallas, TX President-Elect Doug Bracken Wiemann Ironworks Tulsa, OK

Vice Pres./Treasurer Chris Connelly DeAngelis Iron Work Inc. South Easton, MA Immediate Past President Chris Maitner Christopher Metal Fab. Inc. Grand Rapids, MI

FABRICATOR DIRECTORS Breck Nelson Kelley Ornamental Iron LLC Peoria, IL Fred Michael Colonial Iron Works Inc. Petersburg, VA Rob Mueller Mueller Ornamental Iron Works Inc. Elk Grove Village, IL

Rod Stodtmeister Stodtmeister Iron Sparks, NV Sally Powell Powell’s Custom Metal Fab Inc. Jacksonville, FL Don Walsh Pro-Fusion Ornamental Iron Inc. San Carlos, CA

SUPPLIER DIRECTORS David T. Donnell Eagle Bending Machines Inc. Stapleton, AL

Gene Garrett Regency Railings Inc. Dallas, TX

Communications Mgr. & Editor J. Todd Daniel

Administrative Assistant Liz Ware Technical Consultant Tim Moss Managing Editor Rachel Squires Bailey

2004 ADVISORY COUNCIL Jay Holeman Mountain Iron Fabrications

Rob Rolves Foreman Fabricators Inc.

Tom McDonough Eagle Metal Fabricators Inc.

Lee Rodrigue Virginia Architectural Metals



Focusing on improvement

Marketing plan


Meetings & Exposition Manager Martha Pennington

In any business or organization you must improve and challenge the status quo; if not the competition will pass you by or you may just fade away. “Make a great association better,” is what I said during my speech at the convention. At the time, it sounded simple and easy to do. Has anyone taken a poorly managed business and set out to make it a well run business? If you have, there were many areas that needed quick attention and big changes, and once they were made you saw positive results immediately. Has anyone taken a well managed company and set out to make it better? If you have, there were only a few areas that needed improvement, and after the changes were made the benefits were less immediate and the positive results were more subtle. The latter example is more like what we have at NOMMA.

Here is a quick update on some of the items we are working on to “Make a great association better.”

Bob Borsh House of Forgings Houston, TX

Executive Director Barbara H. Cook

Once the planning ends, the hard work begins

There is so much about our association to be proud of, which is why updating our marketing program is so exciting. We will have an action plan with tangible resources so we can communicate to more people on how they too can benefit from being a part of NOMMA. Strategic planning is critical to the viability and vitality of our association. Much effort and time has been and continues to be invested in this process. This is our road map for our journey into the future, and if things were to take a turn for the worse, it would become our “lighthouse” during the storm.

Education Foundation

Our NOMMA Education Foundation is diligently working on various education programs. Along with that task is the duty of the Trustees and NOMMA Board to evolve the foundation into what it was chartered to do: “To have the ability to assist in the education of any member that desires to learn”. METALfab

The annual convention and trade show is the “crown jewel” of our association. The “necklace” of this crown jewel are the people who plan and participate in each event and function. We have already done much of the planning, but there is still much to do.

Curt Witter is president of the National Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metals Association.


A Chapter Task Force has been working with and reviewing our chapter system for some time now. In June, the Task Force submitted a report to the Board on their findings and recommendations. It is hoped that this effort will allow us to better serve our four active chapters. The real work begins

By the time you read this, we will have completed most of our planning for the year, and it will be time to put our plans into action. As we begin the implementation process, we will continue to focus on our mission statement and the values of our association.

William J. Lynott Fabricator ■ July-August 2004

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How to reach us Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metal Fabricator (ISSN 0191-5940), is the official publication of the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association (NOMMA). O&MM Fabricator 532 Forest Pkwy., Ste. A Forest Park, GA 30297

Editorial Send story ideas, letters, press releases, and product news to: Fabricator at address above. (404) 363-4009. Fax: (404) 3661852. E-mail:

Advertising Ads are due on the first Friday of the month preceding the cover date. Send ads on CD to: Fabricator at address above. E-mail ads to: (max. 5 megs by e-mail). Visit our website for a downloadable media kit:

Membership In addition to the magazine, you’ll enjoy many more benefits as a NOMMA member. To join, call the headquarters office at (404) 363-4009. For a complete list of benefits, refer to the membership ad in this issue.

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Editor’s Letter

Enter your outstanding project in Top Job If you are working on an outstanding

The energy during convention

job this year, or even if you have a great project from last year, consider entering it in the 2005 Ernest Wiemann Top Job Competition.

If you do enter a job, I also STRONGLY encourage you to attend the convention. The contest adds incredible richness and excitement to every METALfab. It is especially a nice touch for winners to be present when their name is called during the Saturday evening banquet. There have been years when the Top Job awards presentation was less climactic because so many award recipients were Todd Daniel is editor of absent, but this year was a pleasant excep- Ornamental & Miscellaneous tion. Most winners Metal Fabricator. were present, including the Mitch Heitler winner, and there were very few leftover plaques to re-pack and ship (which was a treat for us!).

A new surge

Though in existence since the 1970s, NOMMA members took a renewed interest in the contest this year and submitted a record 203 entries. Even international firms joined the action and this year we received submissions from Russia, Canada, and England.


How it works

$25 for up to 35 words, $38 for 36–55 words, $50 for 56–70 words. Send items to: Rachel Squires, Fabricator, at address above. Ads may be faxed with credit card information to: (404) 366-1852. Deadline: 2nd Friday of the month prior to publication.

To enter the contest you must be a NOMMA member in good standing, and paid up for a full year. Once a member, you can go to the Member’s Only area of the NOMMA website to obtain the rules, categories, and an entry form. This information is also mailed to the membership in October. You are allowed to enter one entry per category, and may enter up to five jobs a year. There are 16 categories that cover all aspects of our industry, ranging from railings to structural. The deadline is late December, but I STRONGLY encourage you to take your photos sooner. Otherwise, your “top job” may be buried in snow or covered with holiday decorations.

Subscriptions Subscription questions? Call (404) 363-4009 Send subscription address changes to: Fabricator Subscriptions, 532 Forest Pkwy., Suite A, Forest Park, GA 30297. Fax: (404) 366-1852. E-mail: 1-year: 2-year: 1-year: 2-year:

U.S., Canada, Mexico — $30; U.S., Canada, Mexico — $50; all other countries — $44; all other countries — $78.

Payment in U.S. dollars by check drawn on U.S. bank or money order. For NOMMA members, a year's subscription is a part of membership dues.

Supplier Directory Published each December as a separate issue. Space reservation deadline is July 31. Deadline for all advertising materials is August 31. For info, contact Rachel Squires at (404) 363-4009 or

Reprints Reprints of articles are available. For a quote, contact Rachel Squires at (404) 363-4009 or Opinions expressed in Fabricator are not necessarily those of the editors or NOMMA. Articles appearing in Fabricator may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of NOMMA. Circulation: 8,000.


The many benefits of an award

While the contest is competitive, when you do win an award the benefits are immense. Winners are listed on our website and in Fabricator magazine, plus press releases are sent to newspapers in your area. Each year, at least two or three newspapers will develop the press releases into a major write-up on a winner. Of course, you can also list your award on your website, stationery, and on the side of your truck. Plus, the award looks awesome in your lobby. I’ve seen several winners hang their awards, and then place a photo of the winning job under it. As another “Top Job” deadline approaches, I encourage you to enter the contest and follow the two tips in this article. See you in New Orleans!

Packing awards following the METALfab 2004 awards banquet. Fabricator ■ July-August 2004

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Reader’s Letters A thanks to fellow members Everyone at Excalibur Metalsmiths, including Abraham, Shannon, Sam, and Enoc, just wanted to express our deepest appreciation to NOMMA members for the gold award we received in the 2004 Top Job contest. We regret that we were unable to attend METALfab this year, but we look forward to seeing everyone at METALfab 2005 in New Orleans. As a new business established since 2002 we attribute much of our success to being a member of this wonderful organization, NOMMA. The knowledge, encouragement, and experience we have gleaned from such sincere honest-hearted members has enabled us to sustain ourselves during very turbulent times, in which many other businesses in our area could not. We look forward to the coming years and the many relationships we will build. Abraham & Shannon Duenas Excalibur Metalsmiths Gaffney, SC

TOP: The Excalibur team. BOTTOM: This gate netted the company a 2004 gold award in the nonforged driveway gate category. It features a series of silhouettes that were freehand drawn and then plasma cut from 1/4 inch plate.


Understanding metal choices Thanks for your mention of our website in the last issue of Fabricator. We have found over the years that one of the most obvious aspects of ornamental metal design is also one of the most obscure: Just what are the basic stock shapes and sizes regularly available in the metals we are all designing in? Designing great metalwork without knowing what’s available in the basic stock metals is like producing a great painting without knowing what paints are available to use. In response to this we’ve tried to show on the website the stock products out there in all the basic metals from which most metalwork is made, and we hope that it clarifies an area of design that has perplexed many people. Larry Wood Wyalusing, PA

Tell us what you think

Mail Letter to the Editor, c/o Fabricator, 532 Forest Pkwy., Ste. A, Forest Park, GA 30297 E-mail Fax (404) 366-1852. Please include your name, company, address, telephone number, and e-mail. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, grammar, and length.

Home Is Where The <Is < Lifetime warranty < Superior performance < Quality < Crafted with pride in the USA < New 26D Satin Chrome Finish Locksets also available in US 3, US 5 and US 26D.

The <Of Every Door... • 5300 New Horizons Blvd., Amityville, NY 11701 • 631-225-5400 • 1-800-526-0233 • Fax 631-225-6136

July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator


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Award Winning Ornamental Components

Gilders Paste™

(Colors may vary slightly from printed medium)

Looking for a unique way to highlight or decorate your ironwork? Gilders Paste™ is a collection of highly concentrated colorful metallic and colored wax based pastes that can be easily applied to a project. Gilders Paste™ can be used to color and highlight features or produce a gilded finish. Call 1-800-784-7444 for more information.

Architectural Iron Designs, Inc. has what you need. We quote on and forge custom components from your specifications. There is no minimum order required. In-stock items are shipped within 24 hours, with express shipping availablity. Order our catalog on-line or by phone. For our on-line catalog and free CAD drawings visit our web-site:

950 South Second St. • Plainfield, NJ 07063 • 800.784.7444 • fax 908.757.3439 E-mail:

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Tips& Tactics 

Fabrication issues

About our expert:

A recap on metal processing The Wagner Companies’ Shop Foreman Kane Behling clarifies metal processing from manufacturing and finishing to large-scale polishing. He also gives tips on finishing and treating stainless steel. By Kane Behling The Wagner Companies A better understanding of how metal is processed, finished, and polished can help fabricators choose the right material for a job. Surprisingly, fabricators may find that prepolished metal is not always the best choice since damage caused during processing may require extensive touch-up polishing. But even before manufacturing or polishing, metal goes through several refining processes to change it into a useable material. After it is mined from the ground, raw metal is then used to make different alloys of metal by adding or removing different elements. Then it is commonly sent to a mill or foundry that shapes it into some kind of product for sale to industry. As metal passes through manufacturing it can go through many different processes. At Wagner, for example, metal is commonly cut, bent, sheared, stamped, welded, drilled, or machined on its way to becoming a saleable product. All of these operations change the shape and appearance of the metal and some unwanted manufacturing defects may show up. Once the metal product has made it through the manufacturing process it is ready for finishing. This can be done in many different ways and is usually specified by how the product will be used in its final desJuly-August 2004 ■ Fabricator

tination. Metal polishing can be used to increase function, but is most commonly used for appearance reasons only. When fabricators buy metal it is most commonly bought as “mill finished.” This means that the metal has come straight off the forming rollers, extrusion dies, or foundry molds and has had little mechanical polishing. The metal is dull and rough in appearance. Some mills provide prepolished material. The finishes are applied during the forming process by hot or cold rolling the metal over polished rollers which makes the surface smooth. Many mills also offer large-scale polishing and buffing. Metal polishing most often calls for successive belt and buff operations from coarse to fine. Prepolished material has some drawbacks, however. Unless the material is resold with minimal or no handling, the prepolished material can be damaged as it is being formed into finished product and can require extensive touch-up polishing. There is almost an infinite number of finishes that can be produced in a polishing shop, the two most common are #4 and #8, also commonly known as satin and mirror (or bright) finishes respectively. Keep in mind that every polisher and polishing company has a slightly different way to achieve these finishes.

Kane Behling is the shop foreman of The Wagner Companies, a long-time NOMMA supplier member, and has over ten years experience in metal finishing.

Tips on finishing stainless steel: ■ Always handle material with care. Even stainless steel surfaces can nick and scratch when handled improperly. ■ Always use new belts. In fact, to avoid contaminating the stainless steel with imbedded ferrous particles that cause rust, do not use any tools or belts that were used on any other materials— especially steel. ■ When polishing is completed, immediately wrap the finished material to avoid contamination from ferrous particles prior to installation. ■ When polishing, be sure to wear proper safety attire including a dust mask and safety glasses.

Tips on treating stainless steel: ■ Inspect the installation on a frequent schedule, taking note of discoloration and stains. Remove discoloration with cleaners recommended to minimize deterioration. In most cases, regular washing eliminates the need for refinishing. ■ Never use steel wool or harsh abrasive elements.

* For more on finishing stainless steel see Fabricator’s Journal Vol 10, published by NOMMA’s Education Foundation. It’s available for NOMMA members only at Also, see the Stainless Steel Finishes Manual available soon from the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association (NOMMA) and the National Association of Architectural Metal Manufacturers (NAAMM). See details about the newly updated publication in upcoming issues of Fabricator.


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Award Winning Ornamental Components

When Style Matters...

When Style Matters...

Both antique restoration and the need for authentic appearance are the reasons we have captured a period look in these beautiful Door and Window Hardware designs. Our exclusive range of strap hinges, door handles, door knobs, door knockers, coat hooks, latches, keyhole covers, letter box plates, letters and numerals have been crafted of cast black iron with an antique finish.

Architectural Iron Designs, Inc. has what you need. There is no minimum order required. In-stock items are shipped within 24 hours, with express shipping available. We quote on and forge custom components from your specifications. Request our catalog on-line or by phone. For our on-line catalog, design ideas and free CAD drawings visit our web-site:

950 South Second St. • Plainfield, NJ 07063 • 800.784.7444 • fax 908.757.3439 E-mail:

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Tips& Tactics 

Fabricating tips

About our expert: Ken Glendinning Tracker CNC Cutting Systems London, ON Canada Ph: (800) 590-7804

In-depth info on a popular shop tool


Ken Glendinning, owner of Tracker CNC Cutting System, offers some useful information about his computer assisted plasma cutting system. By Ken Glendinning Tracker CNC Cutting Systems Tracker CNC plasma cutting systems are designed to be worked hard everyday in the shop. The following information responds to questions that many fabricators frequently ask me about Tracker. Tracker’s integrated workstations

Although previously a laptop was necessary to operate Tracker CNC Cutting Systems, now they all come with their own integrated workstations which house the computer system, interface, and input controls. Tracker’s workstation includes a 14 inch TFT Liquid Crystal Display flat screen monitor. This is advantageous for several reasons. Plasma cutting systems that use standard tube style monitors are very vulnerable to shop dust accumulating inside the large casing, severely shortening the monitors lifespan. Standard monitors can also pick up high frequency interference from the plasma arc. High frequency interference can cause erratic torch movement, lost cuts, PC shutdowns, and damaged electronic equipment.

and ready to use as soon as you turn on your machine. The software allows you to edit designs, open, or import designs from other sources. Although you can draw shapes like boxes, rectangles, circles, and horizontal or vertical lines in Command & Cut, it is not a design program. Rather than reinvent the wheel and force you to learn new software, Command & Cut allows you to use designs from software you may already be familiar with. Most of our customers are already familiar with AutoCAD or Corel Draw as the industry standard and are comfortable using them. If you have never used a design program we would suggest Corel Draw. We offer unlimited free technical support for any design or cutting related questions you may have. Trackers drive system

Using Tracker’s software

Command & Cut is designed specifically for our Tracker cutting machines. It’s designed to be user friendly software. Command & Cut is pre-installed into Tracker’s integrated computer system and is configured July-August 2004 n Fabricator

Tracker’s three-axis gantry uses four stepper motors: one on the xaxis, one on the z-axis and two on the heavier y-axis. You will find other systems use only one motor to power the y-axis with power being transferred to both sides using a jackshaft,

belts, and other components. But imagine how many times the gantry changes direction every hour and put that stress on a small rubber belt and one motor. The belts will fail often, leaving you to order parts and repair your system. Aside from being complex and unreliable, a single motor also leaves the heavier y-axis underpowered causing lost steps and misalignment. Tracker’s motors transfer power through a directly driven rack and pinion gearset. Direct drive eliminates the need for pulleys, rubber belts, and jackshafts, and is far more reliable. Tracker’s cutting table

While many other systems are built using aluminium extrusions that have simply been cut to length and fastened together, Tracker’s cutting deck consists of 32 slats made from 14 gauge steel. Each slat simply drops into place. The slats can easily be reversed or replaced if you wear them out by removing the side covers, and lifting out the slats. Replacement deck slats can be ordered from us or made yourself using your Tracker or shear. A Tracker 4 by 8 has a material weight capacity of 5,000 pounds and a reversible cutting deck that can be reversed or replaced in minutes. Removable side covers shroud the sides and front of every Tracker 4 by 8 and 5 by 10 system. The shrouds offer increased ventilation efficiency and aid in controlling the molten sparks produced while cutting. 13

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Shear, bend, punch, notch.

More shearing, bending, punching, coping, and notching.

Our line of equipment and tooling for ornamental metalworking may be all you’ll ever need. From simply making a hole, to stamping pickets, Cleveland Steel Tool has a complete line of equipment ready to meet your metalworking needs and your budget. We’ve packed loads of features into our machinery to give you the flexibility needed in your metalsmith shop. Our multishear attachment, for instance, allows you to

shear angle, bar and round stock without timeconsuming tooling changes. Call the professionals at Cleveland Steel Tool and let us recommend the best machine for your operation. From our portable units to a full line of ironworkers and tooling, we probably have just what you need.

Call the Punchline: 1.800.446.4402 • Visit:

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NOMMA Officers 

2004-2005 Board of Directors President

Curt Witter Big D Metalworks Dallas, TX President-Elect

Two new directors join the board Meet new Supplier Director Gene Garrett of Regency Railings Inc., Dallas, TX and Fabricator Director Don Walsh of Pro-Fusion Ornamental Iron Inc., San Carlos, CA.

Doug Bracken Wiemann Ironworks, Tulsa, OK Vice President/Treasurer

Chris Connelly DeAngelis Iron Work Inc. South Easton, MA Immediate Past President

Gene Garrett Regency Railings Inc. Dallas, TX According to Gene Garrett, he’s sold everything that goes inside a house from wood floors to granite countertops. He got into selling pre-fabricated railing systems when the owners of a design firm he worked for got interested in starting up a new import business. Today Garrett is vice president and general manager of Regency Railings. Garrett says he spent his first year in the industry exploring how to best enter his product into the market. He heard of NOMMA through a colleague and went to his first convention in Albuquerque, NM. Soon after that Garrett began attending code hearings and METALfab regularly. Garrett was inducted as a supplier director on the 2004–2005 NOMMA Board of Directors at the convention in Sacramento, CA. “I believe in the philosophy of giving back,” Garrett said. “NOMMA has taught me a lot, and I believe my experience as having not always been in the iron industry could add something to it.” When asked if he has any specific goals for his first term as supplier director Garrett replied, “I don’t have the answers. I just have a lot of questions.”

Don Walsh Pro-Fusion Ornamental Iron Inc. San Carlos, CA As a kid, Don Walsh says he fooled around with metal. Then he learned more welding and fabricating skills in the Air Force. But rather than becoming a journeyman, he went into the fire department. Walsh injured himself on the job at one point and spent his recovery time carving a wood sculpture. He ended up winning a scholarship for the sculpture and eventually studied metal sculpture at Academy Art College in San Francisco. Soon he bought a welder, made a metal gate for his brother-inlaw, and started his own fabricating business while continuing to work full-time for the fire department. Walsh attended his first convention in 1994. Now that he has scaled his career down to just his fabricating business, Walsh has decided to get more involved with NOMMA by serving as a fabricator director on the 2004–2005 Board. “Eventually I’d like to start a Northern California chapter,” Walsh said. But when asked if he has any specific goals for his first term as fabricator director Walsh said, “I don’t have any grand plan or unique ideas. I’m going in with open eyes.”

A special “thank you” goes to our outgoing Board members: Belk Null, Berger Iron Works Inc., and Pam Beckham, Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool. July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator

Chris Maitner Christopher Metal Fab. Inc. Grand Rapids, MI Fabricator Directors

Fred Michael Colonial Iron Works Inc. Petersburg, VA Breck Nelson Kelley Ornamental Iron LLC Peoria, IL Rob Mueller Mueller Ornamental Iron Works Inc. Elk Grove Village, IL Rod Stodtmeister Stodtmeister Iron, Sparks, NV Sally Powell Powell’s Custom Metal Fab Inc. Jacksonville, FL Don Walsh Pro-Fusion Ornamental Iron Inc. San Carlos, CA Supplier Directors

David Donnell Eagle Bending Machines Inc. Stapleton, AL Bob Borsh House of Forgings Houston, TX Gene Garrett Regency Railings Inc. Dallas, TX 15

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Shop Talk

L & R: The action never slowed during the three-day show.

GETTING FIRED UP at the AWS show show in Chicago to get a first-hand glimpse of the latest equipment, accessories, and consumables entering the market. The new products and technologies he discovered will definitely get you FIRED UP! By John L. Campbell According to a news release published by Miller Electric, there are 5 to 7 million people in America who practice the art of welding. Approximately 25,000 of those same people from 32 different countries expressed their interest in new welding technology when they attended the American Welding Society’s three-day exhibit at McCormick Place in Chicago, April 6-8. Founded in 1919, the American Welding Society (AWS) boasts that their organization is the world’s largest trade association. AWS has over 50,000 individual members and 1,100 corporate members. Their professional staff in Miami, FL is led by a volunteer organization of officers and directors. For more information about AWS, visit: Attending any exhibit at Chicago’s McCormick Place is a daunting challenge. Built along the shoreline of Lake Michigan within sight of the Chicago’s downtown area to the north, the facility is huge. Hours of walking and standing leave your feet swollen and sore the next morning. Just walking one


way from the exhibit hall to the food court takes half an hour. Ignore the color of your parking lot or forget to note the latitude and longitude of your car, you may have to take a taxi home. Despite its size, by noon of the first day, the exhibit aisles were filled. In addition to many technical seminars, educational conferences and individual corporate programs, the show featured 425 exhibitors. Like using a kitchen sieve to find diamonds in a sandbox, I wandered the aisles with my pre-arranged scouting notes seeking new developments in welding equipment, and products that would benefit NOMMA members. The journey begins

The world’s largest producer of aluminum welding wire, the AlcoTec Wire Corp., had a booth across the aisle from their parent company, Swiss owned ESAB. The parent company is celebrating their 100th year as a world leader in manufacturing welding and cutting equipment. For information on aluminum welding and alloys, AlcoTec is a valuable resource. They were a great help for a previous

For your information

■ We sent writer John Campbell to the recent American Welding Society

About the American Welding Society: The Society was founded in 1919 with the goal to advance the science, technology, and application of welding and related joining disciplines. From military weaponry to home products, AWS continues to lead the way in supporting welding education and technology development to ensure a strong, competitive, and exciting way of life for all Americans. More on the web: Learn about more products unveiled at the show by visiting:

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“This magnetic square with an on and off switch and three spirit levels is so new, we don’t have a flier on it,” said Jim Riley in the booth of Valtra Inc. TOP: Roger Maes, patent holder of his vice clamp, stands behind his products in more ways than one. It’s not a typo, the company’s name is aMAESing Tool Mfg. Inc.

Photos by John L. Campbell. Photos on preceding page courtesy of exhibit sponsors.

RIGHT: With little more than a hand drill and a colletclamp Tri Tool Inc. offers a compact cutting tool for precision cutting of tube and pipe. Ends can be champfered; butt welds can be made without filler metal. Giving the demo was William Sandford, technical director.

Fabricator article on TIG welding. In talking with their personnel they emphasize knowing the alloy composition you’re welding and what you’re using as weld material. There are significant differences in aluminum alloy thermal expansion and contraction. To cite an example, for the repair on an automotive engine block or an exhaust manifold using the wrong aluminum alloy weld rod could cause cracking at the weld when temperatures elevate to 150° F. In addition, we’re all aware of the color matching differences between filler and base metals after anodizing. AlcoTec is located in Traverse City, MI, and their technical support people are knowledgeable and readily available. On the subject of weld rod, Kobelco Welding of America Inc. has July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator

something new in stainless steel flux core wire. They call it DWG wire, which is available in three alloys, DWG308L, 309L and 316L. All three are .03 max. carbon. The DWG309L has a 24 chromium, 12.5 nickel content as compared with the typical 18/8 300 series stainless. When joining two different stainless alloys, the 309L is recommended because of its superior ductility. Dave Haynie described the DWG wire as a new concept. Whereas, the normal flux core wire is stable to 150 amps, the DWG is stable as low as 80 amps and can be used for thin plate welding. “The DWG has three benefits,” Haynie explained, “You can use a .045 inch diameter wire for both thick and thin gauge stainless, saving money by not having to use a .035 inch diam-

eter wire.” Haynie emphasized that .035 diameter stainless wire is twice the cost of .045 inch wire of the same alloy. “Welding parameters are from 80 to 220 amps,” Haynie said. “You can move along faster on thin plate with less distortion using .045” wire.” Less costly wire, less distortion, faster welding, the Kobelco DWG stainless steel wire sounds like a worthwhile product. Small but powerful

Sandwiched among the smaller exhibitors of welding equipment was Broco Inc., featuring their GOWELD® portable, battery powered, MIG welder. Richard Ferry, company president, outlined the features of this 3 pound weld-gun that’s listed in the 17

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new Sears catalog. Powered by two or three 12 volt batteries, GOWELD® can weld steel or aluminum. “With two batteries you’ve got 15 to 20 minutes of arc time,” Ferry said, adding that the welder has gas capabilities and a 20-foot reach cable. It accommodates 2 pound, 4 inch weld spools, and wire from .023 to .045 inches in diameter. For on-site installations and repairs in the field, GOWELD® handles welds up to a 1/2 inch thick. The gun has a die cast aluminum chassis, heavyduty motor with optical encoder, and programmed microprocessor control circuit to monitor feed and weld functions. Broco introduced the product in early 2002, and the U.S. Marines uses the kit for battlefield welding. Richard Ferry says that some of the sophisticated benefits in the GOWELD® design enabled the product to win design awards from Popular Science and Editors’

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Choice. An optional voltage control circuit allows voltage to be stepped down to facilitate welding thin gauge steel without burn-through. The product is designed for professional welders, HVAC techs, contractors, miners, farmers, and ornamental metal workers. Their website is; and the company is located in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Phone: (800) 845-7259. Miller Electric Mfg., subsidiary of Illinois Tool Works (ITW) and manufacturer of both Miller and Hobart brand welding equipment, introduced

The Miller XMT 350 features Auto-Line™ technology which boosts the primary power to a higher voltage.

Lighting Rings... To Hemispheres.

several new products: The Axcess® 300 inverters and Auto-Axcess® 300 Systems supplement their multi-MIG units for lighter duty applications. Last year Miller introduced the Axcess 450® and Auto-Axcess 450® inverters. “Axcess® provides an optimized arc for every MIG welding process, improving quality and productivity,” said Randy Broadwater, product manager of Miller’s Advanced Process Systems Group. For field welding Miller featured their Maxstar® 150 STH, which weighs only 13.7 pounds and has a welding range of 5 to 150 amps. The XMT®350 CC/CV inverter with Auto-Line® technology replaces the ALT 304 with 24 percent more power. The Auto-Line® technology accepts any type of primary power (190 to 630v, single or three-phase, 50 or 60 Hz) without any physical linking mechanisms. A new auto-darkening welding helmet sold under the trademark Big Window Elite® has a 30 percent larger window and is 4 ounces lighter than comparable products. More adventures ahead

ACME is your solution. One such example, the chandelier shown above features a 120" diameter x 4" deep outer trim ring.This was a one-of-a-kind part 4" di a one produced for Advent mete r to 3" Pointed C Lighting Corporation.

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Across the aisle from Miller Electric was Smith Equipment’s booth, manufacturers of cutting torches sold under the Dual Guard™ trademark. Bruce Buhler, product manager, explained how both in-tip mixing of gases plus a built-in flash arrestor provided double protection against flashback. Manufactured in Watertown, SD, Smith torches offer a lifetime warranty against wear and tear on their equipment. For soldering and brazing applications, Goss Inc. displayed their GP360 hand torches that work with Propane, Mapp, and FG2 gases. They have a GP-300 trigger torch that lights with the squeeze of a button. The torch has replaceable tip ends and a flame adjustment valve. Welding fixtures are often custom fabricated in-house by NOMMA members, but the pipe fitting vises manufactured by aMAESing Tool Mfg. Inc. attracted my attention with a display like a Rube Goldberg puzzle. Made from high strength cast aluminum (Tenzaloy®), the lightweight Fabricator ■ July-August 2004

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With the four high towers anchoring the location of the Lincoln Electric exhibits, their display functioned as a visible pylon from which you could gauge your location on the exhibit floor. (12 pounds) vises have tool steel jaws. Two sets would be ideal for aligning butt-welds on tubing or pipe for handrails. The vises can handle pipe, conduit, rod, flat bar, or angle iron. Roger Maes, president, holds patents on several inventive products like the pipe vise. You can check the company’s website at www.amaesingtools .com. Speaking of clamps and fixtures,

Valtra Inc. has an extensive line of 3axis fixtures and utility clamps, including a magnet square with an on-off switch. Sold under the name Strong Hand, Valtra offers a newer version of the magnet square with spirit levels for positioning prior to welding ( For only $28 the tool looks like something every handyman should have in his toolbox, like an impulse item you’d

find at your local hardware. At Tri Tool’s booth, William Sandford, the company’s technical director, demonstrated the precision severing of aluminum rings from tubing using one of their small 300 Series cutting systems. The cut ends are square enough that butted together TIG welds can be made without filler rod. For fabricators of tubular handrails this lightweight, compact equipment has benefits in both cutting and preparation for welding. Sandford’s e-mail address is The company is located in Rancho Cordova, CA.

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America’s #1 Supplier!

Phone: (800) 345-5015. With the four high towers anchoring the location of the Lincoln Electric exhibits, their display functioned as a visible pylon from which you could gauge your location on the exhibit floor. As most welders know, Lincoln Electric Co. is one of the world leaders in the design and manufacture of arc

The TIG 185 features Micro-Start technology for improved startup.

fied to ISO 14001, an welding equipment and international standard for consumables. They’re environmental managebig in robotic welding ment systems and procesystems, plasma, and dures. The Mentor facility oxyfuel cutting equipmanufactures MIG and ment. Greg Coleman, other welding wire elecLincoln Electric’s mantrodes. Similar to the ISO ager of product market9000 series for quality, ing, pointed out that ISO 14001 provides a the cost of robotic structure and strategic welding equipment has approach to establishing gone down compared and defining environto a year ago. mental plans, polices, and One characteristic Lincoln’s MINI-FLEX is a actions. common to all manuhigh-tech, portable If you’ve got poor facturers of welding ventilation solution. ventilation in a specific equipment is their crearea of your shop, Lincoln’s new ative use of trademarks. The uninitiatMINI-FLEX™ portable with a high ed observer drowns in an ocean of buzzwords, meaningless without an vacuum and a four-stage filtration explanation of how they impact the system offers efficiency and less freproducts. At this show there were quent filter maintenance. The unit more trademarked items than a specfeatures low noise levels and automattator sees watching an afternoon of ically switches on and off with a 15 NASCAR racing. second delay upon weld completion. Lincoln Electric proudly The fume eater rolls on wheels and announced that both their Euclid and weighs only 33 pounds. Mentor, OH, plants have been certiLincoln Electric’s Precision™ TIG

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1-800-423-4494 24 Fabricator ■ July-August 2004

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Easy. It only takes a few words to explain the thousand reasons to use cable. Architectural, open, simple, see-through. Railings, fences, trellises, stairs, canopy supports. Whatever your reason, we have the hardware and the technical support to

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185 is touted as the only machine on the market in its price range with Micro-Start™ technology for improved starting plus Auto-Balance™ and standard pulse controls. AutoBalance™ takes the guesswork out of setting optimal cleaning and penetration levels. Lincoln’s new MIG™ 215 offers an output range of 30 to 250 amps for tackling thicker metal plate and a greater variety of applications than competiLincoln introduced a new chemical, called MicroGuard Ultra that reduces weld spatter, provides tive units of its type. One of its a better arc, and improves wire feeding. special features is a 115v receptacle to power grinders, lights, length also improves travel speed and for the next show, which takes place in or cordless tool chargers. reduces the chances of porosity. Dallas, TX, April 26-28, 2005. They’ve introduced a new chemiA major portion of Lincoln For the next three years Jim Greer cal to their SuperArc® and SuperGlide® Electric’s exhibit was devoted to will be the Society’s president. He’s a MIG wire called MicroGuard™ Ultra robotics and high production welding professor and welding program coorthat has lubricating properties to systems, all of which can be accessed dinator at Moraine Valley Community reduce friction and improve wire on their website at: www. College in Palos Hills, IL. Under his feeding ease. Gun chatter, arc start or phone: (888) leadership, focus will be on strengthfailures, and burnback result from 355-3213. ening the links between industry and reluctant wire feed. MicroGuard™ Every year the AWS sponsors an education. reduces weld spatter and gives a shortexhibit like the one held in Chicago. Mr. Campbell has been writing for er, more stable arc. A shorter arc You may want to mark your calendar Fabricator since 1994.


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Shop Talk

Maximizing your ironworker’s potential Ironworkers perform many functions that allow fabricators to simplify difficult tasks. No matter which type of ironworker you have, you probably have found yourself saying, “I don’t know how I ever got along without my ironworker.”

Ironworkers perform many functions that

allow fabricators to simplify difficult tasks. No matter which type of ironworker you have, you probably have found yourself saying, “I don’t know how I ever got along without my ironworker.” Most ironworkers have many things in common. You can punch, shear, notch, bend, and even use an ironworker as a press, yet each ironworker may have a different way of accomplishing each task. Getting the most productivity out of your ironworker requires examining each station. The following are some rules and guidelines for increasing your ironworker’s productivity. Punching station

The one constant on all ironworkers is that they all are rated by their punching capacity because specifications for other stations can vary from machine to machine. Ironworkers are classified at the punch end by using a formula for tonnage. On an ironworker, punching takes the place of drilling. Although iron28

workers can offer a competitive advantage, do not throw away your drill. Ironworkers are limited in the hole sizes they can punch relative to the thickness of the material, and failure to heed general rules can be dangerous. You should not punch a hole smaller in diameter than the material thickness. For example, you can punch a 1-inch hole in 1/2-inch material or even a 1/2-inch hole in 1/2-inch material, but never punch a 1/4-inch hole in 1/2-inch material because the punch break can harm the operator. This is an important rule so don’t forget it! Rarely does a fabricator think his ironworker has too much throat depth. When it comes to throat depth, more is usually better. Remember, you can’t add it later because it’s part of the machine. You need to be able to punch your largest part. As a rule, the throat depth needs to be deep enough for most of your work. If a special job comes up, it’s ok— you’ll still have your drill. Die holder design is important. A die located in the middle of a die holder can inhibit your ability to punch close to the web of your angle iron and channel. If you need to punch close to the web, be sure to get a die holder with the die located at the edge of the holder. You can obtain offset dies for most machines

For your information

By Mark Pearlman Armstrong-Blum Mfg. Co & Spartan Ironworker

Fact One: All ironworkers are rated by punching capacity. Fact Two: New hydraulic machines are safer, and they offer stroke limit features that result in short cycle times. Rule of thumb: The throat depth needs to be deep enough for most of your work. Caution: Never punch a 1/4-inch hole in 1/2inch material because the punch break can harm the operator. Save time: Shearing flat bar and angle iron rather than sawing increases efficiency.

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This picket for a picket fence started out as a piece of square tubing. Photos courtesy of Cleveland Steel Tool Co.

After getting struck with a round punch, a ripping punch is used to notch the material.

that will get within 1/4 inch of the material’s web. The ironworker table that the die holder sits on becomes significant if you use attachments for bending and pipe notching. How die holders are attached is not the same for all tables. Some attach with T slots, tapped, or drilled holes, or some other method. Be sure the table is user-friendly, so it does not cost time and money to change attachments. Notching station

This is the most underrated station on the machine. Generally, after the punch station, the notcher is the second-most-used station on the machine. The notcher usually is rectangular; however, “V” notchers also are used. The notcher can take large or small bites out of material. It is most applicable for making frames, notching out corners of flat bar, and notching out sections of angle iron. You probably have found this station to be indispensable. Angle iron shear

Most ironworkers have an angle iron shear that allows you to cut angle iron more easily and quickly than you can saw it. The two main categories are the slug type, which takes a section out of the material, and the cropoff type, which parts the material without taking a slug. The slug-type angle iron shear offers a good cut quality; however, the material loss it causes must be factored in, and it requires blade changes. Shimming also is common when using this type of shear. The cropoff shear is the most common way to part angle iron because it can part a large piece of iron without wasting material—and money—in the process. However, you must look hard at the way the material is parted and make sure that the quality of cut is right for your application.

The ironworker table that the

die holder sits on becomes significant if you use attachments for bending and pipe notching. 30

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Sometimes the material can roll or bow. If you save time but can’t use the piece you sheared, you didn’t save anything by shearing it on the ironworker. Some angle iron shears can miter angle iron at a 45-degree angle on both the top and bottom leg. This allows you to achieve a picture-frame cut for making frames. This certainly is easier to do on an ironworker than with a saw. Flat-bar shear

The flat-bar shear is another popu-

lar station on an ironworker. Being able to part flat bar without having to saw it enhances efficiency. It takes a long time to saw though 3/4- or 1-inch material, but plate can be sheared on an ironworker in seconds. If you are like most steel fabricators, you make a lot of base plates, and a flat-bar station is excellent for that operation. The quality of cut differs

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from ironworker to ironworker, however, so it is important to consider the quality of cut you need when looking to increase your ironworker’s productivity. The rake angle of the blade can affect what happens to the material when it is sheared. Generally, the higher the rake angle, the more distortion the drop piece has. For your application, make sure that the drop piece is usable. Sometimes the material can roll or bow. If you save time but can’t use the piece you sheared, you didn’t save anything by shearing it on the ironworker. Round- and square-bar shear

On some ironworkers this shear feature is built in and on some it is an accessory. Round- and square-bar shearing can be tricky. As a rule, the more the blade thickness matches the diameter of the material being sheared, the better the cut. If you want to shear a 1-inch round bar, the blades should be only a few thousandths of an inch thicker or thinner than the diameter of the bar to get the best cut and to avoid distortion, which always is a critical issue with round- and square-bar shearing. The more room the material has in the cavity, the more the material tends to distort. If you need a precise cut on this station, it is worth the time to do a test cut so that you know ahead of time if you can live with any material deformation that results. Accessories and tooling

Gauging tables are standard equipment on some ironworkers and accessories on others. For the punch station, a gauging table can be instrumental in using the ironworker to its maximum potential. The two types of backgauges are mechanical-stop and electric. To use a mechanical-stop backgauge, set the part length and then manually actuate the machine. An electric backgauge actuates the machine when the material hits it, which can be valuable for high-volume production. Maximizing productivity may mean acquiring a dual-cylinder ironworker. Basically, this type of machine allows you to have two machines Fabricator ■ July-August 2004

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occupying the floor space of one. Usually one cylinder is used for the punching station and another for the shearing station. Dual-cylinder ironworkers prevent lost production time caused when one operator is idle while waiting for another operator to finish using the machine. Ironworkers have come a long way. They all used to be mechanically pow-

ered, but now most are powered hydraulically. While mechanical machines have faster cycle times, the superior safety of hydraulic machines supercedes reasons to use mechanical machines. Not only are the new hydraulic machines safer, they offer stroke limit features that result in short cycle times. An ironworker is a multitask

machine. Pipe notchers, V notchers, tubing shears, specialty punches, bending, and many other attachments are available to add usefulness and versatility. If you don’t know if an ironworker can do it, ask. Ironworkers are the best! Article reprinted with permission from The Fabricator and ArmstrongBlum Mfg. Co., a NOMMA member.

Lattice type punches can simultaneously trim and radius strip material.

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Photos courtesy of Cleveland Steel Tool Co.

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Shop Talk

Spinning is chosen to fabricate chandelier metal spinning firm produces a 120 inch contoured aluminum chandelier ring for a theater lobby. The piece was crafted from two 72 inch by 144 inch sheets of .190 inch thick aluminum.

Acme Metal Spinning, a well-known 90-year-

old metal spinning company, fabricated a large, primary outer ring structure for a unique, one-of-a-kind theater lobby decorative lighting chandelier. Because of the chandelier’s size (10-foot diameter pendant), the outer trim pan ring was necessary to provide the support structure for holding eight acrylic panels in place, which formed the light fixture’s globe. The ring, along with an aluminum T-bar, provided the base structure which gave the fixture the needed strength and rigidity for holding the 18 lamps and wiring assembly. Metal spinning process chosen

Since the chandelier was a one-of-a-kind undertaking, methods to produce the large outer component were limited. Extrusion processes couldn’t handle the large width to length size material requirements. The seamless, smooth contours would be difficult to create using hand fabricating techniques. And because only one finished part was needed, stamping processes requiring expensive permanent tooling were ruled out, further limiting the manufacturing options. 36

The theater lobby chandelier by Advent Lighting features a metal spun 120” dia. x 4” deep trim pan outer ring.

“Metal spinning was the most practical method to use,” reported Bruce Johnston, vice president of Acme Metal Spinning. “It’s fast, provides a very attractive finished appearance, and can be produced as a single part without the need for expensive, permanent tooling.” Fabrication begins

To fabricate the part, Acme began with two 72 by 144 inch sheets of .190 inch thick aluminum. The two sheets were welded together and then circle sheared to form a donutshaped flat piece of aluminum. Weld beads were ground smooth. Then Acme designed and produced a laminated wood tooling pattern. This is a standard process used in the metal spinning industry to produce tooling. What made this particular part and the tooling for it unique was its large size. Acme designed the tooling on its CAD system. The laminated wood structure was constructed and assembled with everyday woodworking tools and then machined to size on a 140 inch diameter lathe. Two workers were required to move and position the tooling fixture using a forklift and overhead crane. Once complete, the tooling was mounted

For your information


Why metal spinning? Though metal spinning is an age-old art, it can still provide a solution to many modern application needs. At Acme, craftspersons can spin pieces up to 140 inches wide. Advantages: Conservative with material, easy to tool up, and produces precision quality. CO NTAC T

Acme Metal Spinning 98 – 43rd Ave. NE Minneapolis, MN 55421 Ph: (800) 3835971. Fax: (800) 7475861. Web: Email:

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on a 140 inch capacity Lieco spinning machine, one of the largest machines of this type in the United States. This process required just under 6 hours while the actual spinning process took only about an hour for the one part. The spinning operation combined rotation and force. Roller-like tools are pressed against the whirling blank as it turns on the lathe, flowing and forming the material around the wooden tooling pattern which was cut in the shape of the finished part. The finished part had a smooth, consistent

finish, including the near invisible welds and little additional finishing operations by Acme. Besides light fixture, elevator, and other architectural fixture components, Acme produces air-moving, food processing, agricultural parts, and cryogenic tanks. Its specialties are hemispherical and large diameter spinnings. Acme’s website provides excellent information on the topic of metal spinning. See web address on previous page.

The chandelier’s finished trim pan outer ring is shown in a wood tooling pattern.

When to choose metal spinning By definition, metal spinning is a method of forming flat metal discs or pre-formed metal workpieces on a metal spinning lathe into conical, hemispherical, and cylindrical shapes. According to Bruce Johnston, Acme Vice President, metal spinning is inherently a low volume production process. As quantity requirements increase, stamping becomes a more cost-effective choice, particularly if the stamping tool requirements are nominal. However, as the part diameter increases and tool costs for stamping increase, metal spinning usually is the more economical choice. Quantities, tooling costs, and time-to-market are all important factors in choosing one process over another, according to Johnston. Often to launch a product, Johnston reports, Acme will spin part prototypes or test market quantities while permanent tools are being made. That’s an economical way to launch a product, check its acceptance, modify it if needed, and then begin making permanent production tooling.

July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator


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Member Talk

Employee incentive program yields high, quality production

Employ ees at W ats Works e arn paid on Steel & Iron time off safety a for prac nd good ticing attenda nce.

For your information

About 50 percent of Watson Steel & Iron Works’ business is iron railing. In a good day, the firm generates 250 lineal feet of their standard package custom railing for front stoops, steps, and patios of newly constructed homes.

■ This NOMMA member has made a few changes over the

years to increase work space, improve workflow, and encourage employee retention and good attendance. Recently, they’ve even changed their name to better reflect the type of fabrication they do. Interview by Rachel Squires Bailey Managing Editor

Fabricator: It looks like your shop has recently changed its name from Watson Welding to Watson Steel & Iron Works LLC. When did that happen and why? Tracy Watson: We’ve been thinking for a while that the name Watson Welding didn’t cater to our niche. Watson Welding makes us sound more like a general welding and repair shop. Many times people have stopped to inquire 38

about lawnmower repair. So a year ago we decided to call ourselves Watson Steel & Iron Works LLC. But it took about a year to get through all of the logistics of changing it with all of our different vendors, etc. We just put our new sign up in the beginning of June. Fabricator: What is your shop’s specialty? Watson: We do a lot of railings and mailboxes for new construction. In a good month we’ll turn out 250 mailboxes. We offer several different styles. Often times an entire subdivision will

NOMMA member: Watson Steel & Iron Works LLC, Matthews, NC Employee incentive program: All employees can earn stars and even cash for perfect attendance, good safety practices, and other performance related activities. Six stars equals a half day off with pay. Shop specialties: Custom fabricated steel railing and mailboxes for newly constructed homes.

have the same mailbox design. But mailboxes are just 20 percent of our business. Iron railing makes up 50 percent of it. We’ll fabricate 250 linear feet of standard package rail for front stoops and steps in a day. Again, we offer several different styles to choose from. But everything we make is custom. And we fabricate just about everything from steel. Occasionally we’ll get a small commercial job. And maybe one or two of our jobs a year is aluminum. But it has to be a sizeable job to make the investment in the material worth it. Structural steel makes up about 30 Fabricator ■ July-August 2004

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In addition to railing and mailboxes, Watson fabricates custom courtyard gates.

percent of our work. So we engage in three aspects of new construction: we provide the building’s structural steel. We come in and put up railing when the buildings are almost done, and then we help with the final touches by providing mailboxes. Fabricator: We’ve heard that you have a unique employee incentive program. What prompted you to come up with this strategy and how does it work? Watson: Our employees are good to us, and we are good to them. But about four years ago we decided we needed to improve attendance, tardiness, and general safety procedures and create more teamwork. So we came up with our star program. We use stars for time off. When employees earn six stars they earn a half-day off with pay in addition to vacation time.

This rail with rings at top represents a popular design for many of Watson’s clients.

Fabricator: How do employees earn stars? Watson: Once a month we have a safety meeting. At that meeting we announce our employee of the month. Employee of the month goes to someone who’s had perfect attendance and has gone above and beyond for that month with high production, minimal mistakes, extra effort, or just being extra helpful. That person earns one star. Everyone who has had prefect attendance for that month also earns one star each. Then quarterly, employees can earn another star and $125 for perfect attendance for that quarter. At the end of the year employees with perfect attendance earn a star and $250. We usually have two or three employees with perfect attendance every quarter and every year. Aside from attendance, all employees earn a star at the monthly safety

meetings if there were no accidents for that month. If the shop gets a customer compliment, everyone involved with that job gets a star. Also, if someone suggests a good idea and we implement it, like some kind of change in workflow, then that person earns a star. Just recently, someone suggested a new way to earn a star. Now any person who catches a mistake in a job at anytime before it goes out the door earns a star and $10 cash. The first month we tried it I spent $50 on employee rewards, but I ended up saving $2,000 in work. Fabricator: So the program is a success? Watson: I don’t know how much money I’ve spent on it in the last four years, but I know that employee attendance has drastically improved. We have a better idea now when someone

LEFT: This rail with the double bar on top represents another popular design that Watson offers.

RIGHT: Watson helped their client choose this uniquely designed courtyard gate.


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Watson Steel & Iron Works fabricates approximately 250 of their standard custom mailboxes a month. Often an entire subdivision will use one design.

will be out. And this latest idea about catching mistakes seems to make employees more aware of their work. We post the names up of the people who catch mistakes. And since the first month, we just haven’t had as many mistakes. Fabricator: How many people work in the shop and office? Watson: About 20 people work in the shop and four in the office. Most of our people have been with us for at least five years. Our leadman, Jeff, has been working with Dad since Dad had the shop in the garage. Jeff does all of our special custom jobs. We also have two installation crews of two people each. Fabricator: What is the size of the shop and what are your different departments? Watson: All three of our buildings make up 16,000 square feet. In this main building behind the showroom are our rail fabrication, finishing, and structural fabrication departments. Along the side of the fabrication and finishing departments we’ve got a couple of old box cars that we use to store rails and components. It’s a little bit of a walk to the two buildings behind the main building. One is used for painting rails, and the other is for fabricating, finishing, and painting mailboxes. Our employees who work in those buildings have their own breakroom. And there’s usually upbeat music playing. July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator


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Jeff, Watson’s lead man and D.B. Watson have been working together for over 20 years. D.B. Watson began his company in 1975, working out of his garage.


Standing in the showroom of Watson Steel & Iron Works are Spring, Marla, Tracy’s mother Evelyn Watson, and Tracy. They make up the office staff at Watson.

Fabricator: How long has Watson Steel & Iron Works LLC been in business? Watson: We’ve been in business almost 30 years. My dad, D.B. Watson worked for an iron company in his teens. That’s where he learned the trade. In 1975 he started his own business out of his backyard garage making wrought iron rails. He simply called builders in the phone book and asked if he could make rails for their projects. In 1985 he moved his business to a new building, the one we’re in now. He built it himself. We’ve made many renovations through the years. The office area we are in now is an exten-



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sion of the old office, which we’ve now converted into a small showroom and more office space. The two buildings behind this one used to be rental property that my dad converted to fabrication and finishing space about 15 years ago. Fabricator: When did you start working here? Watson: I started working summers here when I was 17. When I finished school I came back to work here full time. My brother Doug also works here. He’s on the road a lot doing field measuring and supervising. Dad is always available and fills in where needed in the shop. Mom spends a

lot of time caring for her mom lately, but still comes into the office when she can. Fabricator: When and why did your parents join NOMMA? Watson: My mother says the first convention they went to was in Nashville, TN [1985]. They were so impressed that they decided to join shortly after that. We’ve been to many conventions since and particularly enjoy the shop tours. We’ve incorporated many of the ideas we pick up from METALfab into our shop. We’ve been asked about our star program before. Hopefully it can serve other NOMMA shops as well.





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Member Talk

Industry suppliers share their insight on current steel crisis ■ These NOMMA Nationwide Supplier Members offer their own

ideas about the factors currently shaping the steel industry and how their companies are dealing with price increases.

Knowing more about how some members of our industry are responding to the current steel crises may help others develop their own successful business strategies.

Fabricator: How has the crises affected the industry and, more specifically, your business? Gene Garrett, Regency Railings: The increase in steel pricing will most likely have the greatest effect on the commercial steel construction industry rather than on the ornamental ironwork industry. I say this because the cost of the steel used in ornamental applications is only a small percentage of the total fabricated cost. So far the availability or price has not effected our

For your information

Respondents: Regency Railings Inc., Tennessee Fabricating Co., and The Wagner Companies manufacture and dis-


business at Regency Railings. The past six months have been the best ever for us. The only ill effect I’ve seen so far is the consistent availability of certain sizes of steel. To this point the availability delay has been no longer than two weeks on any of the items we use. I can only hope this doesn’t change. So far Regency Railings has not been forced to increase prices. It would have been easy to justify a price increase, but we took another approach. We have been diligent in finding ways to offset the increased material cost by increasing efficiencies within the factories or moving products to lesser expensive factories without sacrificing quality. I am not certain this can be the long-term solution if steel prices continue to escalate, but this is our objective and our goal at this time. We will not institute a price increase based on what others do. We will only increase prices to ensure our survival as a company. Ken Argroves, Tennessee Fabricating: The biggest issues for us are confusion, illusion, and delusion! It has been difficult to keep a handle on pricing. We have stopped sending out pricelists and find it hard to give price quotes for any reasonable period of time. We have also had shortages of materials and seen hoarding of inventribute components to ornamental and miscellaneous metal fabricators and are Nationwide Supplier Members of the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association (NOMMA). Gene Garrett is vice president and general manager of Regency Railings Inc., Dallas,

tory by some larger companies. Many of my customers are having difficulty paying their bills because they find they are paying more for raw materials and have under-priced their jobs. Some are able to go back to their customers and raise their pricing but only before completion of projects. Tony Leto, The Wagner Companies: I know that many fabricators of large products have taken a big hit in installs where the quote was accepted prior to the steel increases. While it is common to build in additional material costs to allow for inflation, no one was expecting the massive increases that occurred and many are not able to pass on the additional cost to their customers. When we have an increase, we roll it into our cost of production and then adjust prices selectively. On quoted jobs, that final price will be based on the cost of materials at the time the order is placed. The steel industry itself is adjusting by becoming more efficient and reestablishing their domestic sources for raw materials. In late 2003, the demand for steel was low and they had allowed inventories to go down. When the demand for steel rocketed up at the end of the year, they were not prepared and were unable to then acquire raw material at a reasonable cost. TX; Web: Ken Argroves is owner and president of Tennessee Fabricating Co., Memphis, TN. Web: Tony Leto is executive vice president of The Wagner Companies, Bulter, WI. Web:

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Fabricator: Do you see steel price increases as a long- or short-term condition? Why?

“Now that there is a larger world demand and fewer steel mills it has become easier for a shortage strategy to work and a world price increase has to be accepted.”

Gene Garrett, Regency Railings: I see steel prices leveling off during the fourth quarter of this year, but I don’t foresee a major rollback in pricing ever. I make this statement based on previous experience selling building products that were also in short supply. The publicized reasoning for higher pricing has been the failure of the coke mines to produce and the surge in imports from China and other industrializing countries. While these are facts that can be confirmed, I don’t believe they are the only reasons. Past experience has taught me that anytime an industry wants to generate more profit, or create expansion, they increase prices. They must, however, justify to the public why they are increasing prices. The most effective tool for justification of a price increase has always been shortages. Whether it be gasoline, milk, orange juice, or any other product. While working in other building industries I have experienced

perceived shortages in products such as lumber, sheetrock, carpets, carpet padding, and even coffee. It amazed me at how quickly the supply improved once the consumer set the bar on the maximum amount they would pay or the producer was able to raise profits to their new acceptable level. For many industries, shortages, whether real or perceived, are THE WAY to justify gradual price increases and additional profits without eliminating consumer demand for the product. The steel industry in the United States went through years of stagnate or declining prices because foreign competition began selling steel at much lower prices. According to U.S. steel manufacturers, prices were less than the cost of production. This forced most U.S. steel mills to close due to the fact that they weren’t competitive or profitable. Now that there is a larger world demand and fewer steel

July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator

mills it has become easier for a shortage strategy to work and a world price increase has to be accepted. Complaining about price increases will not change steel pricing, just as complaining about gasoline prices will not change the price of gasoline. There are only two things that can curtail the escalating steel prices. Either the producers will increase the profits to their liking or demand will diminish. When either of these two things happen, steel prices will stabilize because there will be no more shortage. Ken Argroves, Tennessee Fabricating: Personally, I think the increased prices and material shortages are here to stay. There will probably be a little spot decreasing since some folks have overbought out of panic, but overall we still have the conditions of the worldwide economics games we play: China is huge with no signs of decreasing


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their manufacturing dominance, and consumption of all available scrap, their own infrastructure expanding at a rapid pace, increased costs of energy and transportation, and other global and national conditions do not suggest a quick fix. As for “what to do?” I’m a bit flummoxed here. If China would allow their yuan to reflect a currency level that more nearly mirrored worldwide currencies instead of being pegged to the dollar, their costs would rise and dampen things a bit. On the flipside of the China issue is my feeling that as consumers we all have a bit better standard of living because of lower costs in many of the things we use in our daily lives, so I’m not China bashing. We also sell a lot of products made in China, and it has become a substantial part of our business. Steel production in this country could be increased, but at what rate? Tony Leto, The Wagner Companies: What originally was greeted with panic in the first quarter has settled down as steel producers and distribu-


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tors have adjusted to the shortages that started at the end of 2003. Scrap prices are still high but they have leveled off and coke demand is being met by increased domestic production— albeit at a higher price. The world wide demand for steel— mainly from China—is still high which will keep prices high probably at least until the fourth quarter of 2004. It’s still a volatile market and there is a concern that China’s production will outpace demand and create a glut of products down the line. Fabricator: What sort of changes to the industry could help curb the current volatile pricing structures? Gene Garrett, Regency Railings: By the time you update steel processing or create additional steel mills, the shortage could be over and the production capacity would again outweigh demand, and corporate profits would fall. Do we really want to see a rash of steel mills closing like we did in the past? As for government inter-

vention, I think our government has enough to worry about at this time. Ken Argroves, Tennessee Fabricating: I support many environmental controls (only the prudent and logical ones), so production by outdated mills would not be wise. I do not see a short-term solution. As for us, we are being more diligent in spending, putting in longer hours trying to keep abreast of things, probably not making any money, and certainly not having as much fun. Tony Leto, The Wagner Companies: The Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)are actively lobbying to promote fair exchange rates. However, companies such as Wal-Mart, Kmart, GE, etc. do not want this changed since it would impact the price of the goods they sell that are largely coming in from China. The Administration doesn’t want to do it because they feel it would be inflationary. So, things remain as they are—at least for now.

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Cover story

Job Profile

A fisherman’s son reels in a landmark fish sculpture Optimism, patience and persistence help create an interactive codfish sculpture for a seafood restaurant chain’s headquarters in Boston Harbor. The fisheye’s color reveals wind speed to boaters.

The codfish sculpture weighs 3,800 lbs. and is 45 ft. long, 28 ft. tall, and 5 ft. wide.

Having grown up in Norway, my father was surrounded by fjords teaming with fish. In his youth, he often supplied the dinner table with his catches. I remember his stories about battling giant codfish and salmon with envy as I could only dream of having such experiences as a fisherman. These days, my fishing is more a state of mind than it is a sure thing, but it has taught me that one must be a tireless optimist and persistent in order to succeed. This approach may have carried over into how I work as a metal sculptor. I have been designing and fabricating lighting, sculpture, and furniture for the past 12 years. I have learned much on the job. Each new project is a leap of faith for me and, at times, for the client. Over time, I have become more comfortable with the concept of not knowing exactly how I am going to design or build something. This fear of not having all the answers has evolved into an energizing force, exciting me with

July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator

enthusiasm and optimism, driving me headfirst into a project. Persuading steel into elegant forms is a process that requires a positive outlook and a lot of persistence as the path to completion is not always road mapped, and there are many dead ends along the way. Most of my projects are smaller than 20 feet in length and weigh less than 1,000 pounds, which I can handle, solo. As a sole proprietor, I wear a lot of hats, from salesman and designer, to shop foreman and installer. I don’t have employees because half the time even I am not sure what I am going to do next, and that makes it difficult to direct assistants. But that all changed last summer when I landed the biggest job of my career. The owner of Legal Sea Foods Restaurants, a 30-location private restaurant chain, approached me to design and build a sculpture for his new corporate headquarters and distribution center in the Historic Seaport District on the Boston Harbor. I had completed several projects for him over the past six years, including a couple of 12-foot tall abstract fish sculptures, custom lighting,

For your information

By David Tonnesen Quantum Design

Member: Quantum Design, Somerville, MA. Project: A landmark sculpture in Boston Harbor’s Historic Seaport District. Biggest challenge: Creating a functional and fitting sculpture. Solution: Research revealed that a 45-foot codfish could detect wind speeds in one of the country’s windiest harbors and signal it to boaters through the color of its fisheye. The fabricator combined the technology of a Savonius rotor, a low-speed wind turbine, with the Beaufort Wind Strength Scale.


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TOP: Numerous sketches were made until a design was finalized. In this concept, the rotors appear to “float” inside and on top of the structure.

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Assembling the tail section. TOP:

Checking over the fish head assembly.

and two water features. He wanted a landmark sculpture that people could see from miles away in the harbor, even from planes landing at Logan International Airport on the other side of the harbor. It also needed to be wind interactive to take advantage of the persistent winds that frequent the harbor. I was very excited and a little terrified; this was a big challenge that involved solving both mechanical and aesthetic problems, something I would need a lot of help with. The real Windy City

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Over the next several weeks, I discovered that Boston is one of the windiest cities in the country. I researched the wind power industry to see the various types of wind-turbine designs that I might incorporate into the piece. I reviewed how other artists had made wind interactive sculptures, and I dug through old patent drawings. I decided against using aerodynamic lift propeller type blades because of their high top-end rotational speeds with the potential to exceed 600 miles per hour, as I was not making a giant blender. I wanted to use something less efficient, more peaceful, preferably something from yesterday’s technology. Then I found it: the Savonius rotor, which drags along at a rotational speed of less than the acting wind speed. This rotor has a history spanning thousands of years, from the early grain mill motors in the deserts of the Middle East to the water pump of today’s Australian farmers. It seemed ideal. All I had to do was adapt it to my needs. The next question was what kind of fish should I depict? Should I use my favorites? Salmon? Tuna? Bass? Fabricator ■ July-August 2004

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slow start & stop low voltage internal limits

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More final checking in the shop.

More research led me to a book titled Cod: Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky. It chronicled the importance of codfish, the one species, which fueled the economy of New England and was responsible for the early development of Boston and its working waterfront. I thought an abstract codfish sculpture would be an appropriate landmark for the client and the historic seaport district neighborhood.

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A fish with a brain

Thinking about the design possibilities, I realized the sculpture’s prime audience is the many boaters who navigate the harbor. Commuter boats and recreational sailors would see this sculpture perched 40 feet above the water’s edge, and I began to think of ways to involve them. I proposed that the eye would somehow signal the wind speed in color, connecting the fish to its environment. I wanted to use architectural wash LED color panels to do the signaling but would have to find an electrical engineer to help me build the brain to control it, something I had to trust I would find. I decided the sculpture would be 45-feet long, made in three major sections for ease of transport with the largest part able to fit easily through July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator

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the 10-foot by 10-foot rollup door of my shop. I still had to solve what it would look like. I filled pages with cod-like fish sketches and tried to distill them down into a simple abstraction. Most of my designs had the rotors on vertical shafts supported by the outline of the fish top and bottom, but they weren’t working for me. Something my wife had volunteered kept coming to mind. She wanted to see the rotors almost floating with little visible means of support, something I initially thought was impossible. But after a few more versions, I felt I was on to something that just might work. I made a 1-inch scale drawing and then a scale model in steel. Once fleshed out in the third dimension, I could see how the frame could act as a stiff support to cantilever the rotors high above the frame. I also saw some unexpected things. The curved belly had a ship’s hull shape and the rotors almost had a sail-like configuration, evoking elements of a Viking ship or sailing schooner that was unplanned, yet somehow appropriate.

At the job site, the tail is connected to the body.



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The fabrication begins

My client approved the design and released me to start fabrication. I prepared the shop for the materials and the work that would take place. I hired a strong hand to move out all nonessential tools and materials and help bring in the first loads of stainless steel pipe and sheet and to assist me in the pipe bending. By now I had data back from the two engineers I hired to specify the shaft diameters and sign off on the fish structure and its attachment to the building. We laid out the curves at full scale on the floor in preparation for bending. After a lot of head scratching, we started with the main frame nearest the tail so that the tail section, when completed, could be test fitted while flat on the floor instead of standing 30 feet in the rafters. The sculpture could only be fully assembled at the site because it would be too large for transport. So I had to be careful to assure that the parts would all fit together without ever seeing it together in the shop; now that was an act of faith. The arching body pipes were schedule 40 31/2 inch pipe with an OD of 4-inches, weighing about 9 pounds a foot. We incrementally bent eight 20-foot lengths over the next three weeks, one inch at a time, with some pipe sections requiring over 250 hydraulic bends to complete. The tail section was completed next, test fitted Fabricator ■ July-August 2004

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Who Cares... Assembly of this section required a cool head.

into the rear, lower part of the fish, and put aside. We continued to build the lower chords and combine them in a ladder arrangement by cutting 18-inch straight pieces and mitering them to accept the 31/2 inch pipe. I hired a fulltime welder so I could focus on the miter cutting. I had no idea how much work was in the miters. Twelve vertical pieces had to be mitered to fit between the upper and the lower chords of the frame at set locations. This was complicated by the fact that the pipes were not parallel or in line. Two weeks of miter cutting consisted of plasma cutting, grinding, and test fitting, templating, and then more cutting, grinding, and test fitting until it fit snuggly together.

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Seeing eye-to-eye

The manner in which the fish eye was going to communicate wind speed consumed my thoughts for weeks. I needed to somehow translate the wind speed into color. A sailor friend mentioned the Beaufort Wind Strength Scale, which is a numerical scale, invented in 1805 to describe wind strength based on visual cues. And because it is familiar to most sailors today, I thought it was fitting. I could program the eye to flash the number of the force, such that three pulses equaled Beaufort Scale 3 (7-12 mph). I hoped the pulsing eye would generate curiosity and over time people would learn what it conveyed via visits to the Legal Sea Foods website, where they could see the Beaufort scale and the fish sculpture in live July-August 2004 â&#x2013; Fabricator

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LEFT: The “big fish” is lowered onto the columns for final attachment. RIGHT AND BELOW:

The great cod is shown at its final resting place at the headquarters of Legal Sea Foods.

motion on the web camera. The fish needed a brain to control the pulsing colors of the eye, so I inquired around Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and quizzed the LED manufacturer and anyone I could think of. I asked the firm that sold me the anemometer that I used to test wind speeds at the site, and they just happened to know an engineer who would be willing and able to meet the challenge. I sent him off to develop the wind-to-eye interface circuitry and program. I had ordered custom stainless steel bearings and precision ground hollow shafting for the rotor assemblies. I had the 30-inch diameter eyeball fabricated and all the LED panels and data/power supplies and hardware shipped. I also ordered the web camera and housing for the fish and harbor viewing via the Internet, an idea suggested by my client. The site was prepared with amber lighting to cast a golden glow on the fish at night. I sited the webcam and housing on the roof and scheduled a crane company to transport the parts 52

to the site for assembly. I was getting more nervous as the delivery and assembly dates arrived. Everything had to fit together and work on the first try. Four months of fabrication and I still hadn’t seen it assembled as one complete 45-foot long piece. The delivery day was a very gusty and rainy, raw autumn day. We unceremoniously crawled through Boston’s crowded streets making five trips in over seven hours to the site four miles away. Now I was worried about the next day’s weather and how I was going to assemble and weld everything together in driving rain. I could only be optimistic and hope for the best. The next day was the most bucolic

day one could hope for; it was bright, warm, and calm. We welded the tail section to the frame while it was on the ground, then hoisted the assembly to the stand on the flatbed trailer, and attached the head on the first try. The owner’s representative, Lynette, said I cracked my first smile that day. My fears were slowly subsiding. The rotor assemblies were bolted to the frame while the local papers arrived for photos. The late day amber sun reflected off the completed sculpture for the first time. I heard that I smiled again. Halloween day, we backed the 3,800-pound sculpture to the crane awaiting final lifting and welding into place 40 feet up, overlooking the harbor. Another unusually beautiful day with no winds and warm temperatures added to the smooth installation. By lunchtime, champagne was flowing, and we had a dedication party on the roof with the company top brass and media attending. I felt like a proud sportsman with his trophy catch. The fish that fought me tooth and nail was won. Now, if only I could land a keeper striped bass. Fabricator ■ July-August 2004

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Job Profile

Winning big with project management processes

The Embarcadero Freeway built in 1957 had previously run across the face of the Ferry Building. Damage caused by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, led to the freeway’s removal in 1992. Plans for rehabilitating the Ferry Building began soon after.

member Big D Metalworks received a certificate of commendation from the 2003 Excellence in Construction competition for its historical restoration work on The Ferry Building in San Francisco, CA. By Bill Beavers and Curt Witter Big D Metalworks What began as a multi-layered challenge ended with a highly commendable reward. In October 2000 Big D Metalworks, Dallas, TX, received a sketch of a unique architectural door. It was part of a larger restoration project of San Francisco’s Ferry Building. The door’s design had already challenged the project’s architect and a local fabricator. Both parties had been frustrated in their efforts to resolve the competing challenges of form versus function. Big D Metalworks took on the challenge to design, engineer, and construct 30 of 54

these doors, called Nave Gates, which provide after hours security for vendors in the renewed Ferry Building Marketplace. The build contract also included fabricating and installing 850 feet of guardrail made of steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and glass for upper level office suites and skywalks. In the category of historical restoration under two million dollars, Big D Metalworks won the 2003 Excellence in Construction competition sponsored by the Associated Builders and Contractors organization for their work on the Ferry Building. Big D used their innovative processes in project management and data tracking to complete the project well within time and

For your information

■ Thanks to their innovative project management processes, NOMMA

Company: Big D Metalworks, Dallas, TX. Award: 2003 Excellence in Construction. Project: Rehabilitation of San Francisco’s Ferry Building. Big D designed, fabricated, and installed 30 gates for the new Ferry Marketplace and 850 feet of guardrail for the building’s upper level. Client: Plant Construction Co. and Port of San Francisco Architects: Baldauf Catton von Eckartsberg Architects; Simon Martin-Vegue Winklestein Morris Architect.

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A single pin holds the gates from above and is attached to a specially designed roller to open and close the folding assembly. The gates were designed to fold completely back and serve doubly as architectural elements.

financial constraints. Particularly concerning the Nave Gates, balancing the conflicting requirements of functionality, code compliance, cost effectiveness, and aesthetics, while producing this project in a timely fashion, is an achievement commended by the architect, general contractor, building owner, the San Francisco Port Authority, and their erection subcontractor. The design of the Nave Gates began in mid 2001 with the engineering, design, and full-size mockup completed by December 2001. The metal gates with their luster finish operate on a track system, which Big D has applied for a patent on. In spite of the 100pound weight of each leaf, the gates easily roll open and closed. The gate hardware includes six locking mechanisms and appropriate handles for operation. Fabrication of the Nave Gates, of which no two share the same dimensions, required meeting the following criteria. The gates had to be: â&#x20AC;˘ Visually appealing and an enhancement to the character defining long central building nave. Of the 30 gates, no two have exactly the same dimensions.



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locks, and door locks that were ultimately used. Value engineering

Project included designing, fabricating, and installing 850 feet of guardrail fabricated from steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and glass.

Secure to protect jewelry, furniture, and craft stores from after hours theft. • High quality, durable construction that met the highest standards for the historical restoration of a National Register Landmark as determined by the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Historic Preservation. • The cost had to be similar to the cost of storefront windows and bays. • The gates had to be hung from the back side (not center hung), so they would not encroach in the retail space when fully opened. In addition to these design challenges, the existing building had sustained a four-inch lean after several earthquakes over the past 100 plus years. To meet these design challenges,

The nal Origi

Big D came up with the following solutions: • The Dallas, TX fabricator came up with a sturdy, durable, and long-lasting roller system to roll the gates (Big D was able to modify a system that was recently designed and that Big D had applied for patents on). • The firm also developed a sturdy metal weave design that met the desired architectural look. Big D used techniques learned from other projects to engineer a stamping process so aluminum strips o f the desired width and length could be woven. • Big D located and modified hinge and locking hardware to meet the security and operational needs of the design. Countless design hours were spent searching for the hinges, pins T.M.

Innovative processes





In order to meet the criteria of cost effectiveness, where the Nave Gates compare in cost to storefront windows and bays, Big D engaged in value engineering. This practice, also known as value methodology, was originally developed by Larry Mills of General Electric in 1943 and basically refers to an organized application of common sense and technical knowledge directed at finding and eliminating unnecessary costs in a project. Its benefits include decreasing costs, increasing profits, and improving quality ( Big D used three primary areas of value engineering in designing and fabricating the Nave Gates and marketplace guardrails: • During the design process Big D continuously challenged the architect when requested changes were going to adversely affect the cost. • Big D produced a mockup that incorporated and tested cost savings ideas, allowing for lighter materials and gate hardware. (For example, Big D plug welded the lattice, enabling it to act as a structural element so the gate frames and hardware could be made lighter). • On the railing Big D recommended use of a continuous top and bottom glazing strip, enabling the use of 1/4 inch glass, which avoided the cost of a customized system. These efforts lowered the cost of Big D’s work package approximately 15 percent. In fact, on the gates, Big D beat the owner’s goal by designing a system that cost less than a standard storefront.

On most renovation projects initial construction activity takes longer than is normally expected, and the finish trades are generally called upon to make up lost time. This project was no exception. To achieve the schedule on this project and maintain customer satisfaction, Big D took advantage of the data the company religiously collects on all projects, which reveals workflow Fabricator ■ July-August 2004

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results on projects comparable in size and customer satisfaction with quality and service. Big D surveys customers and asks them to assess their satisfaction with the fabricator’s quality and service. The result of these surveys are posted and discussed regularly with team members. The net effect is a company-wide commitment to the timely delivery of quality products. As a result, two of the first questions Big D’s craftsmen ask when starting a project are: “What is the completion date?” and “How many hours are budgeted for the work?” In addition, Big D mathematically analyzes a statistically significant number of past projects to determine the average slippage of work on similar projects. This analysis, for which data collection took several years, enables Big D to reserve the necessary capacity in scheduling to meet all project needs. Big D also provides its project managers and production personnel with the tools to help them maintain on-time delivery. The firm has developed a process that compares production capacity versus production needs on a weekly basis. These comparisons affect everything from orders accepted to efforts in juggling and accelerating work packages to enable the team to proactively manage the master schedule. The success of this effort shows up as 90 percent or better customer satisfaction with delivery over the past three years. None of the value engineering, schedule management, quality control, and design work on the Ferry Building project could have been accomplished effectively without the active participation of the various team members and groups in Big D’s service and quality management processes. In fact, Big D’s mission statement speaks to the value of these parts working together: Our mission is to create a prosperous corporate environment for our team members and to provide our customers the highest quality service and craftsmanship. Big D will continue to promote an organization that is principle based, processed managed, and team centered, which brings value to our employees, clients, and industry. July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator

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History of the Ferry Building The building adapts to San Fran’s transportation needs. The Ferry Building now stands as a busy center of commerce visited daily by thousands of commuters, tourists, and shoppers. Over the past 100 years, the Ferry Building’s use, design, and relationship with the city have changed according to the transportation and commercial needs of

San Francisco. In 1893, prominent architect A. Page Brown was commissioned by the Port Authority to design the Ferry Building, or “Union Depot and Ferry House” as it was known then. Brown created a Neo-classical inspired design that featured prominent

For a century the Ferry Building has been one of the most loved buildings in San Francisco. In the 1920s more than 100,000 people passed through it each day.



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By the 1970’s overwhelming automobile traffic in San Francisco encouraged ferry service to resume as a transportation alternative.

arched entry pavilions, flanked by Corinthian columns and arcades, and a predominant clock tower based on the renowned bell tower of the Seville Cathedral. For 25 years following its original opening in 1898, the Ferry Building was one of the busiest terminals in the world as a transportation hub for trains from the East and commuters from across the Bay. During the height of its popularity in the 1920’s, more than 100,000 people would pass through the building each day. At that time, its traffic was second only to London’s Charing Cross Station. Arrival in the city via ferryboat was commonplace in San Francisco up to the 1930s. Ferry boat usage declined rapidly in the 1940s, after construction of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges. With the drop in ferry traffic service, the Ferry Building entered a period of neglect. In 1955, the building’s primary public and decorative space, the Central Nave, was divided into office spaces. During this timeframe the World Trade Center made the Ferry Building its home and completed alterations on the north half of the Ferry Building, while adding a third floor. Shortly thereafter in 1957, the Ferry Building was almost completely hidden behind the Embarcadero Freeway, effectively severing the building’s relationship to Market Street and the city. It was the removal of the Embarcadero Freeway in 1992, following the freeway’s damage from the Loma Pieta earthquake in 1989, which inspired the future rehabilitation of the Ferry Building.

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Job Profile

This fabricator spends a lot of time up front creating a design that ensures getting the job. But he finds that talking with the client, visiting and measuring the site, and creating CAD drawings even before the deal is sealed pays off in the end.

When I was asked to write an article about

making this handrail, I felt slightly intimidated. After all, there are people much more skilled than I, even in my own NOMMA chapter here in Florida. After thinking it over, however, I realized that it’s not about being a master but about being a student. It’s what I like most about NOMMA, the free exchange of ideas and techniques that makes us all closer to becoming masters of our craft. To me, the actual methods of hammering and forming metal are but a tool to the real end of metal crafting which is to evoke feeling in those who live with the work we create. This is the fundamental nature of art. July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator

By Byron M. Wood Metalsmith Designs Inc.

For your information

Finding out what the client wants

When clients come to our shop and showroom, I like to sit and talk with them to determine exactly what service I can offer them. There is great difference between a prospective customer who wants a handrail to keep people from falling at the lowest possible cost, and one who wants something to keep people from falling while adding an interesting and beautiful accent to their home. Either customer is welcome at our company, but it is better to know early on in our temporary relationship which customer is which. Very often, we find we can add some beauty without much cost. This pleases any client and allows us to have a little more fun and take more pride in making and

Member: Metalsmith Designs Inc., Fort Myers, FL About the author: Bryon Wood has over 30 years experience in metalworking. Design strategies for residential work: By talking with the client, find out if they want a purely functional item or an ornamental and functional item. Take measurements early, even before the deal is sealed. That way you can get to know their tastes and have more to go on for initial design sketches.


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LEFT: This closeup shows the great detail of the project. The finish is a blend of gold and bronze enamels, with Gilder’s Paste used to impart a metallic brass look. All items were then given a light verdi wash.

TOP: The entire design was fabricated from aluminum flat, round, and 1/8” sheet stock.

installing our work. In this case, it became clear throughout our discussion that this customer wanted something a little special to make a statement. But since sometimes a client knows pretty much what they want and sometimes they don’t, at this point I like to set up an appointment to measure and see the site. I’ll have to measure eventually anyway, and I feel that after seeing the area that my work will someday call home, I can better gauge what will structurally work and what will please my customer. So at the home of my client, I measured the opening they wished to fill. I sketched the particulars in my notebook, noting that the surfaces to which we must later attach were not quite parallel. The time spent sketching and taking notes also allows me to see how my clients live—what they choose to surround themselves with—and who they really are. I really believe this phase is absolutely critical to a successful sale and a happy customer. This house was a charming Florida home, nestled in a beautiful corner of a mangrove estuary. The pool out back, with its cast bronze herons, the offshore fishing boat at the slip, the fish on the wall, the greens of nature in the carpet, the tropical paintings, all told me what 60

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I wanted these clients to be reminded daily of the lovely ecosystem in which they lived, and which they obviously loved. these people would like on their handrails. I made a quick sketch on the spot, and I wasn’t surprised when they both agreed that it was what they wanted. In fact they also asked if I could bring part of the design above the handrail on the side with the full height of the wall. I sketched in some leaves, and I was on my way. I wanted these clients to be reminded daily of the lovely ecosystem in which they lived, and which they obviously loved. Back at the shop, my first step was to translate my notes concerning the measurements into a CAD drawing. I first drew the floor and wall and existing post, including the out-of-squareness I mentioned earlier. Now I had a permanent record of existing parameters at the site. I drew this in one color; then I drew the main structural parts that I would fabricate in another. One of the benefits of the CAD drawing is that it is “to scale.” So after printing the partial drawing, I had a drawing of the site and structural requirements of our handrail that actually looked like it would after fabricating. In this case, I printed the drawing as described, and then handdrew the elements like birds, fish, water, and plants right on the printed CAD drawing. Now I had a “to scale” drawing/sketch of the proposed handrail. Typically, this sketch is faxed or mailed to the customer with a quotation. The quotation includes a description of the proposed finish. In some cases the description is enough, and in some cases the customer is invited back to the shop to see a sample finish. In many cases the sample is then modified to meet the client’s tastes. Hey, that’s what makes this a tough business, right? This was a small handrail and I had three hours invested before I got the job! After receiving the order (and a down payment), I can now get to work on the project. Now I can go July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator

Rather than filling the space with a wall, the owner preferred a railing that would “open up” the small loft library.

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The little lizard looks like he’s moving up the branch, but he actually serves as a diagonal stiffener.

back to the computer and use the same drawing, only add dimensioning, and I have our shop drawing and cut list, which will give the exact clearance necessary for easy and neat installation. Another nice point about the CAD drawing is that I can draw different radii for the handrail curves to see which is most pleasing and functional. Fabricating: the fun part

After cutting the parts, it was time for the fun. The fish and bird were made from 1/8-inch thick aluminum. I usually like to find a picture of the

fish or bird or whatever and use a simple projector to project the image on a wall of a dark room and trace the outline and main markings on a piece of poster board. Once I found a picture of the fish for this handrail, I then cut it out with scissors and traced the shape on sheet stock. Then I cut it out with a plasma cutter. At this time, I transferred the main markings of the subject to the sheet so they could either be ground or hammered as required. A left and right side of each was required. On the anvil, I then rolled the edges to give the piece a three-dimensional

look. Then, the left and right sides were TIG-welded together all around the perimeter. Belt and disc sanders were then used to blend. The fins on the fish and the legs on the bird were then welded. The mangrove roots were 3/8-inch diameter aluminum rod hammered to give texture. The tree’s leaves were made from 1/8 inch by 3/4 inch by 3/4 inch angle. After plasma-cutting the shape, they were ground and hammered on the heel of the angle to open the leaf. The little fish, the one in the heron’s mouth, could have been made as described above, except I just felt like carving him from a solid 1/2 inch by 3 inch aluminum flat bar. This was done on the belt sander and disc sander. Detail was added with a die grinder. To give the bird a little more

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fullness and a feeling of feathers, I TIG-welded some areas, then partially ground the welds, leaving some of the puddle as texture. To make the large leaves, I actually cut a leaf from a plant at home and traced it onto 1/8-inch aluminum sheet. After welding in the leaves I realized I needed some more support up high. So I created the little lizard, which seems to be moving from one leaf to another, but actually he’s forever acting as a diagonal stiffener. Aren’t we all? The finish was pretty involved, but producing it doesn’t take as long as it sounds. First, I etched with phosphoric acid solution, which was followed by a washing and priming. Next, I gave the piece a light spray of gold enamel, followed right away with dark bronze enamel. While still tacky, I brushed on paint thinner to blend the two colors. After drying, I used two different bronze colors of Baroque Artist Gilder’s Paste to add metallic highlights. Then, I hand-buffed the Gilder’s Paste. This really gave it a nice

metallic look. Then, I added a very light verdi wash to allow some look of aging. Finally, I finished with a satin clear coat. Like we always do, I finished all mounting hardware to match. Work hard and have fun

Even from the back, the bird and fish show fine detail. To create the 3-D effect, two pieces of material were cut out for each animal. The edges were then rolled on an anvil and the pieces were TIG welded together.















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July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator




Every time I attend a NOMMA chapter meeting I learn something. I go back to my shop with another piece of knowledge and try to adapt it to my own ways. Other times, knowledge is gained by trying a technique, failing, and trying again. No matter what you know or where you learn it, I believe that metalworking should be done with abandon. Strike the hammer, have fun, and let the fun show in your work. I myself like to play Jimmy Buffett music real loud while I’m working. It’s during this process that I get ideas, so my work almost always has something the customer didn’t expect. Rarely has this been a problem. In fact, the customer is usually delighted to discover an unexpected element.

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One day I’ll op en my own fab sh op.

Biz Side

Taking the giant leap What you’ll learn!

By Jay Hearst

You’ve dreamed of going into business for yourself for some time now. You’re feeling stifled by the limitations—financial, creative, and otherwise—of working for someone else. Maybe you even feel the downsizing axe looming over your head. But so far, your enthusiasm is trumped by fear. What if you fail? So many potential mistakes lie in wait for the new entrepreneur. As a lifelong employee, you feel that striking out on your own is similar to traversing an unfamiliar, quicksand-pitted terrain on a moonless night. If the above scenario hits disturbingly close to home, here’s a flashlight and a trail map. My book, Lead the Charge to Business Success: A Guide to Starting and Running a Successful Business Based on Lessons Learned at the School of Hard Knocks offers an honest look at the travails and the triumphs of striking out on your own. The book is structured around my own experiences with business ventures, stories that are both enlightening and readable. 64

Education is an important component of success. I do not deny that. However, I can say with complete honesty that I learned far more from my experiences in the school of hard knocks than I ever did in the ivory tower. Real-world experience always trumps theory! And writing a book about my dealings—both profitable and costly—in the lessthan-glamorous worlds of medical supplies and credit card processors is my way of sharing that education with future entrepreneurs. Lead the Charge to Business Success is a treasure trove of insights—not to mention sample documents and other valuable resources—for anyone seriously considering starting his or her own business. But for the jittery would-be entrepreneur, perhaps the most appreciated advice falls into the “what not to do” category. Here, excerpted from my book, are my “Top 10 Mistakes Not to Make When Starting a Business:” Mistake 1: Misjudging the consumer’s desire for your product. Just because you

think you need something, don’t assume the public will want it or need it. You may get a great idea for a new shower knob one day

For your information

■ Whether you are thinking about starting your own business or have recently taken the plunge, it’s important to avoid some of the most common snags. This article looks at 10 mistakes to AVOID when starting a company.

About the Author: Jay Hearst is also known as the “been-there-done-that entrepreneur.” He has started, nurtured, and profited from several businesses, including one originally capitalized at $3,000 and sold, 17 years later, for $60,000,000. About the Book: Title: Lead the Charge to Business Success: A Guide to Starting and Running a Successful Business Based on Lessons Learned at the School of Hard Knocks. Publisher: Sales & Marketing Professionals Publishing, 2004. ISBN: 0-9747667-04. Cost: $19.95. Available: Bookstores nationwide and all major online booksellers.

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If you start a business, your spouse or other people will criticize you for always thinking about the business and putting the business before everything else. while you’re in the shower. But before you mortgage your house and car, ask yourself, “Will other people want it?” More to the point, will they be willing to pay for it? Then, ask other people— as many as you can—people whom you trust. Listen to their feedback. How can you make your product better? An honest reality check at this point can save you a lot of time and grief later on. Mistake 2: Underestimating how much time your business will require. If you start a business, your

spouse or other people will criticize you for always thinking about the business and putting the business before everything else. Particularly in the early years, starting and running a business takes a huge amount of time and effort. If it’s important to you to spend the bulk of your time with your family and friends or on hobbies, founding a business is probably not the best thing for you to do.

folks are performing up to snuff. Mistake 5: Choosing the wrong partner(s). Your partner must be able

to agree with you on vital business issues and also carry his/her share of the work. When a business fails because the principals are incompatible, chances are the partners didn’t know each other as well as they thought they did. They may have had a relationship of one kind or another for some time, but perhaps it wasn’t as close as they thought it was, or was based on misunderstandings. Ask yourself: How well do you really know the person or persons you are considering as partners? Mistake 6: Not having a written business plan. A business plan is

important for several reasons. First, it forces you to think about your goals for the future of your company.

Second, you will probably need one if you want to acquire outside capital. Write it yourself rather than relying on a canned plan. Your plan must contain the answer to the question, “What makes you think you can do this better than present competition?” Finally, don’t live your life by your plan—a plan is a good thing, but it is only a guide. Mistake 7: Underestimating the capital required. I have looked at a

number of laboriously written business plans that missed the mark when it came to the subject of capital requirements. It’s good, probably essential, to have a business plan. However, attempting to accurately forecast capital requirements into the future may be a fool’s errand. I would venture to say that, in almost all startup situations, whatever you think you’ll need won’t be enough. What you spend will be determined by the amount of cash you have on hand or can raise at the time. If at any given moment your needs exceed your cash

Mistake 3: Setting the price of your product/service too low. Many peo-

ple assume that they can give away the store as a way of attracting new customers. What usually happens is that you set expectations in the minds of your customers and you can never raise your prices to cover your costs. There’s an old joke that says, “We lose money on every transaction, but we make it up on volume.” Unfortunately, for many now-defunct dotcom companies, this wasn’t a joke. It was a marketing strategy. “Cheap” is a negative. It implies poor quality and turns people off. Mistake 4: Not having the requisite business skills. What is it that you do

well in business? If you’re going to start or run a small company, the answer had better be, “Everything.” Even if you have the capital to hire an accountant, a sales manager, or a production manager, you had better know enough about each of their jobs to at least determine whether these July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator


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(or available credit), you’ll fail. That’s the bitter truth. Mistake 8: Choosing the wrong location. You’ll need a location that

fits into your worst-case budget while still allowing for reasonable growth. Moving is expensive and not just in the obvious ways. Reprinting stationery, getting new phone numbers, rewiring, inconveniencing your employees, updating customers and other contact information—all of

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these things can cost plenty in time and money. You don’t want to go overboard and spend all your initial capital on rent, but give some thought when you select your first location to your needs for the future. Mistake 9: Failing to consider the legal aspects. Have you thought

about both initial and continuing costs as they relate to compliance with applicable laws and regulations? You must locate, interview, and employ

Ask yourself: Is entrepreneurship for you? The following are some additional questions to ask, which are provided by the Small Business Administration: • Are you a self starter? It will be up to you to develop projects, organize your time, and follow through on details. • How well do you get along with different personalities? Business owners need to develop working relationships with a variety of people including customers, vendors, staff, bankers and professionals such as lawyers, accountants or consultants. Can you deal with a demanding client, an unreliable vendor, or cranky staff person in the best interest of your business? • How good are you at making decisions? Small business owners are required to make decisions constantly, often quickly, under pressure, and independently. • Do you have the physical and emotional stamina to run a business? Business ownership can be challenging, fun, and exciting. But it’s also a lot of work. Can you face 12 hour work days six or seven days a week? • How well do you plan and organize? Research indicates that many business failures could have been avoided through better planning. Good organization of financials, inventory, schedules, and production can help avoid many pitfalls. • Is your drive strong enough to maintain your motivation? Running a business can wear you down. Some business owners feel burned out by having to carry all the responsibility on their shoulders. Strong motivation can make the business succeed and help you survive slowdowns as well as periods of burnout. • How will the business affect your family? The first few years of business start-up can be hard on family life. For more on starting a business, visit:

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competent legal counsel. I suggest that you ask for recommendations from people you know who have employed lawyers for business issues. You must determine the steps necessary to start the business. You must ensure continuing compliance with the laws and regulations, especially those that deal with employment and liability issues. What about insurance: liability, fire and theft, business continuation, key person, etc.? Mistake 10: Not understanding the numerous employee issues you must face. Do you have a plan for

hiring, paying, and supervising personnel required at various stages of growth? Have you set up personnel policies? Job descriptions? Do you know how you’ll advertise for, interview, and hire candidates? Determined pay policies that will dovetail with the interests of the employees and the company and produce the desired results? Fringe benefits? Bonus plans? Profit sharing? Taxes? You need to be aware that you are assuming total responsibility for the financial and, in many cases, the emotional well being of your employees. It’s a huge responsibility, and not everyone is up for it. Conclusion

If this list seems daunting, that’s because it is. Starting a business is not child’s play. Perhaps you will ultimately decide that entrepreneurship isn’t for you; the risks are just too great. On the other hand, you may find yourself saying, “Wow, that is a scary list—but I really, really, really want to try it anyway.” If that’s the case, congratulations. You are a born entrepreneur. Over the years I’ve discovered that I make a lousy employee. Running my own business is the only way I can ever be happy. I know there are many other people like me out there—and it’s for them that I wrote this book. Don’t get me wrong. You will make plenty of your own mistakes and you will learn from them. But to paraphrase H.G. Wells, “Learning from my mistakes is a whole lot easier than disregarding them. When you realize that truth, you’re already a step ahead of the game.” Fabricator ■ July-August 2004

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Biz Side

Understanding worker psyche is a key to KEEPING talent What you’ll learn! ■ By using surveys, you can obtain a feel for what is making your employees leave and stay. The trick is to make the needed improvements based on what you learn from the data.

By Lonnie Harvey, Jr. SPHR The JESCLON Group Inc.

July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator

afford to just pay attention to the end result without knowing how the person got to that decision to leave. To reverse your trend of high turnover, you must first determine three facts: 1) the circumstances leading up to the departure of employees, 2) the reasons why some employees choose to remain in your employment and 3) the characteristics of the most successful employees. Why do they leave?

All departing employees should receive an exit interview, regardless of the reason for their departure. The survey should be structured to give employees the opportunity to discuss the good, bad, pretty, and ugly about your company without the fear of burning a bridge. Why do they stay?

Remaining employees should be surveyed to determine why they stay. They too should be given the opportunity to discuss the good, bad, pretty, and ugly about your company without fear of reprisal. If there is the slightest doubt about the issue of trust between

For your information

It is a scenario shared by many companies. You recruit and hire the best potential employees. You bring them into your organization and spend time and effort training them. And then they leave the company after a relatively short time to pursue other opportunities. If this is happening at your firm, you might be wondering if it makes sense to continue pursuing the cream of the crop. Is the answer to reversing this trend a switch to recruiting people who aren’t considered “high flyers?” Reversing the trend of high turnover can be difficult, but hiring lesser-qualified people is not the answer. High employee turnover is typically an environmental issue resulting from a mismatch between the employee and the work environment. When employees leave an employer, they often cite reasons such as more money or returning to school as their reason for leaving. On the surface, this may be true, but it may not be the underlying motive for considering an alternative to continued employment with your company. In today’s business world where the search, acquisition, and retention of valuable employees is a war for talent, you cannot

About the author: Lonnie Harvey, Jr. is a Senior Professional in Human Resources and president of The JESCLON Group Inc., a Rock Hill, SC-based human resources consulting firm specializing in minimizing employee turnover. He can be reached at or 803-325-2020. For more information, visit


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Once the survey has been administered and the data collected, employees will be anxious see the results and what actions the company will take to address identified issues. employees and management, then it is best to have the survey conducted by an outside resource. A properly developed survey can measure employees’ perceptions of the company in regards to issues that directly affect them, such as communications, benefits, training, safety and pay. The best surveys are those that place a numerical value on the issues you are attempting to address. For instance, the statement, “When I tell people where I work I feel proud,” should provide an answer that reveals that a certain percent of the responding employees agree with that statement. The survey should also include a place for employees to provide written comments. Some employers seek comments to statements or questions that received negative responses while others encourage general comments.

Both can work well, but the important thing is that employees are provided the opportunity to give comments. The higher the percentage of employees participating in the survey, the truer the final results will be. So it is in everybody’s best interest that as many employees as possible participate. Demographic information such as department, job group, age group, and time in service provide valuable data as it identifies potential problem areas. Employers often look to compare their survey results to “industry standards,” which are a composite profile of employee responses to the same statements or questions. They are supposed to allow the employer to measure the morale of their employees against that of their peers. The problem is that often that composite profile is derived from a database consisting of many different businesses, none

What does a successful, long-term employee look like?

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of which may be comparable to the employer administering the survey. I believe that employers are better served not comparing their survey results to industry standards; instead they should use their results as a baseline and establish goals for improvement and conduct a follow-up survey in 18-24 months. Once the survey has been administered and the data collected, employees will be anxious to see the results and what actions the company will take to address identified issues. It is here that employers have one of the best opportunities to impact employee morale. Actions to address identified issues will most often result in a measurable improvement in employee morale. Employers that fail to act will most likely experience a measurable decline in employee morale.

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many organizations. Most of these talented people What got them to stay? are looking for some combination of challenge, opportunity and compensation. The question of employee retainage recently came up on the Now is the time to assess your business goals and NOMMA e-mail discussion list. Here is how Terry Driscoll of take stock of the pool of talent that will be required Custom Iron Inc. was able to keep two employees: to achieve your goals. Evaluate both the talent and • We communicated the true value of the compensation package performance of your employees against the we offer. required demands and expected performance of the • We talked about the educational benefits and diverse work positions they currently occupy. experience available through our firm, both internally and externalIt is critically important that this assessment ly. begins at the top of the organization. The commit• We listened and responded to frustrations they expressed. They ted organizational leader must first conduct a thortold me about wasted time and work associated with inaccurate ough assessment of the talent and performance of prints, BOMS, and routings, and how their input on those issues the senior management team. There are two basic was being ignored. To address this I have personally started monireasons to start at the top. The first reason is to toring the processing of ECRs (Engineering Change requests). know where the organization stands in regard to the talent and productivity of the organization’s current and potential leaders. The second reason is that managers cannot be expected to conduct comprehensive assessments of their subordinates unless they have first experienced the rigors of the process themselves. The next step is to conduct the same comprehensive assessment of middle managers, supervisors, support staff, and line employees. Each employee should be assessed for both technical skills and work behavior skills. The results of this honest assessment of each employee’s performance should then be discussed with that employee. You must invest the time needed to observe the nuances that differentiate good, long-term employees from the rest. A relationship should be established and maintained with each employee and a line of communication Visit our website opened to determine not just their and download our skills, but also their passion. It is in this full line catalogue. passion that you will find the secrets of your best employees. ANGLE & PLATE Your observations should be supplemented with quantitative data. Using a IRONWORKERS & valid assessment tool, develop a profile BENDING ROLLS PUNCH/SHEAR SYSTEMS of your ideal productive employees. Angle Bending Rolls, Hydracrop 55A Incorporate the information from 23 Models, capacities 60 ton punch, 10" throat the exit interviews, the employee surfrom 5" x 5" x 5/8" 4" x 4" x 1/2" Angle veys, and the profile into a hiring and 12" x 5/8" or Plate Bending Rolls retention strategy that includes a for8" x 3/4" flat bar 16 ga. to 4" mal employee selection and retention Larger models up to thickness and process. 240 tons & automation 4' to 30' lengths available. The most important step is to take it personally. Employees are not leaving P.O. Box 207, White Marsh, MD 21162 your company; they are leaving you. Phone: 410-933-8500, Fax: 410-933-1600 Therefore, you have the power to, E-mail: change the situation. Accept nothing less. July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator


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Biz Side

Don’t let inflation chip away at profits What you’ll learn!

By William J. Lynott The recent skyrocketing prices of steel are

still making themselves felt throughout the metal fabricating industry. Last winter, Chris Connelly, DeAngelis Iron Work Inc., South Easton, MA, reported, “Our prices in the Northeast have increased approximately 40 percent over the last 45 days and haven’t leveled off yet.” In February, Nucor Yamato & Nucor Berkley announced a price increase of $1.25 per cwt or $25.00 per ton on their entire product Line. Previously announced raw material surcharges remained in effect. On May 1, Maze Nails, whose raw material is steel rod, reluctantly announced a temporary raw material surcharge on all nails and screws. What’s behind it all? According to Connelly’s local steel salesman, “The problem is the result of the huge amount of construction taking place in China and the Far East. Scrap metal is being purchased and shipped to the Orient in record amounts. The result is domestic shortages in the U.S.” Tony Leto, The Wagner Companies, 70

Butler, WI, agrees. “It’s the concept of supply and demand in its simplest form,” he says. Whether there are other more complex factors bearing on steel prices such as the closing and consolidation of U.S. steel mills and the relatively weak U.S. dollar is a matter of debate among the experts. In the meantime, metal fabricators are left to deal with the problem as best they can. “All indications are that this is not a short term increase but will be with us for a while,” says Leto. “I suggest that [NOMMA members] review any contract you have going forward and include some provisions for increased material costs.” Cynthia Eshleman, Miller Metalcraft Inc., Lancaster, PA, agrees. “We’ve been staying in close touch with our suppliers and putting the necessary ‘wording’ in our quotes. We also communicate with our GC’s to keep projects moving forward, or order stock material ahead of the project to protect pricing.” When will all this end? Where will the steel price crisis lead us? “Your guess is as good as ours, and maybe even better,” says David N. Deinzer, president and CEO of Denman & Davis, Albany, NY in a letter to its

For your information

■ While steel prices are getting the most attention right now, general inflation continues to creep up every year. To maintain your profits and a healthy business, it’s important that you adjust your rates accordingly.

Challenge: Despite higher steel prices and rising prices in general, there is still tremendous pressure to hold prices. Dilemma: When you maintain your prices in an inflationary environment, sooner or later something’s got to give. Solution: Each year, determine the rate of inflation and adjust your prices as needed. Memorable Quote: “That’s why it’s so important for you to understand that when you fail to adjust your prices to keep pace with the inflation rate, you have effectively lowered them.” About the author: William J. Lynott is a freelance business writer for the manufacturing and construction industry.

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There is little that individual companies can do except to pass

along the surcharges to its customers and ask for their understanding. customers. “This is a worldwide phenomenon, not just U.S.” Executives throughout the metal fabricating industry agree. There is little that individual companies can do except to pass along the surcharges to its customers and ask for their understanding. If there is any good to come out of the present quandary, it may be that it serves as an important reminder to NOMMA members that inflation has been a permanent part of our economy since the 1930’s; it cannot be ignored with impunity. If it weren’t for the burdensome run up in steel prices, the chances are that you wouldn’t have been giving much thought—or any thought—to overall inflation lately. Those white-hot increases in the cost of living throughout the 70s, 80s and early 90s are largely a memory now. With overall inflation idling around 2 percent for the last several years, there are other, more pressing, economic considerations in your business life. Besides, inflation rates are an abstract concept to many people—just a lot of numbers. In truth, inflation, whatever the current rate, plays a complex role in everyone’s life, business owners as well as individuals. Consider consumer complaints about today’s gasoline prices. At the time of this writing, many Americans are groaning at the “highest prices ever” for a gallon of gas. But is the $1.82 per gallon we’re paying now the highest ever? No way. Gasoline averaged about $1.35 per gallon 20 years ago. With inflation factored in, a gallon of that same gas would cost $2.47 per gallon today. At today’s general price level, that makes gasoline cheaper than it was in 1983. If you’ve been around long enough to remember when McDonald’s dished up their 15-cent hamburgers in 1955, you may feel nostalgic when you shell out 89 cents for that same treat July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator

today. But which is the better deal? Surprise. That same hamburger would sell today for about $1.05 if it kept pace with inflation. The effects of inflation are complex

That’s the trouble with inflation; it’s misleading. It makes direct price comparisons from one year, or one era, to another meaningless. It makes

some of today’s products seem expensive when they are actually cheaper, and vice-versa. The only meaningful way to compare prices from one period to another is to compare them with the general price level of each period or to the percent of average wages necessary to pay for the item during each period. Money itself takes on a flexible value when inflation rears its ugly head. We’ve all heard that computer guru Bill Gates is the richest person in America today. With a net worth reportedly at $45 billion, Gates is thought of by some as the richest

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necessary part of good financial management.

American ever. But he’s a long way from that distinction when you compare his fortune’s purchasing power with some of the great industrialists of a century ago. While the fortunes of John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan were less than $45 billion expressed in dollars of their day, their purchasing power was far in excess of Bill Gates’s today. That’s because a product or service that costs $1 today sold for five-cents a hundred years ago. Put another way, if you paid $1 for a product in 1903 and bought the exact same product today it would cost you $20.76. Direct comparisons can be misleading

Obviously, the bargain-price phenomenon evident in such areas as the price of hamburgers and gasoline doesn’t extend itself throughout our universe of products and services. During the Great Depression, a firstrun movie ticket in a neighborhood theater sold for fifteen cents. How does that compare with the tab at one of today’s multiplexes? With inflation factored in, a movie ticket should cost $1.90 today. Obviously, with ticket prices now running at $6 or higher, it’s costing us a lot more to visit the local movie emporium than it did back in the dark days of the Depression (and don’t forget today’s $2.50 Coke that used to cost a nickel).

Inflation never lets up

No matter how hard you try to hammer down expenses and overhead, eventually the insidious effect of inflation will take its toll on profit margins.

Every NOMMA member paying for medical services or health insurance today is well aware that costs have risen at a pace far in excess of inflation. College tuition is another of today’s costs that is mind-numbingly more expensive than in days of yore. So what does all this have to do with your metal fabricating business? Plenty. Misleading comparisons of prices can lead not only to a healthy dose of nostalgia, but faulty business decisions as well. Being aware of the true increase in costs after inflation is a

The rate of inflation can vary wildly from one year to the next. However, regardless of the variations, inflation continues its work relentlessly yearafter-year. And, of course, one year’s increase compounds on top of another year. Even that harmless-seeming 2 percent inflation rate of recent years takes a significant toll over time. After ten years of 2 percent inflation, that dollar bill in your pocket today would be worth only 82 cents in today’s dollars. Perhaps more important, it is unlikely that the current rate of inflation will last much longer. An analysis of the long-term trend over the past 70 years clearly indicates that yet another round of stiff inflationary increases is inevitable. When Franklin Roosevelt decided that something had to be done to stop the destructive deflation of the Great Depression, he instituted an economic policy with a built-in inflationary bias. His New Deal in 1933 guaranteed that there would never again be deflation serious enough to disrupt our economy. But his bold move came with a hitch: Inflation, sometimes rising well above 10 percent, would become a permanent part of our economic life. Aside from what is hopefully a temporary run up in steel prices, inflation may seem to be a rather tame beast of late, but don’t be fooled. That ravenous predator is certain to come roaring back, and it’s beginning to look like it will be sooner rather than later. When it returns, action on your part now will make it easier for you to deal with it then. How inflation affects your business

Here’s an example of how inflation has affected your business in recent years, aside from raw material costs: If you paid $100 for some office supplies in 1983, the cost for those same items in 2003 was $182.35. In another example, if you paid $1,000 for a drill press in 1993, it will cost you about $1,279 to buy a similar model this year. 72

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Of course, these figures assume that the increases in costs for the items mentioned kept exact pace with the rate of inflation. In practice, the inflated price may be higher or lower than the calculated one. Either way, the overall costs for running your business are rising steadily, more or less in step with the annual inflation rate. That’s why it’s so important for you to understand that when you fail to adjust your prices to keep pace with the inflation rate, you have effectively lowered them. Are your prices keeping pace with inflation? If not, the short-term effects may not be especially noticeable, but over the longer term, the consequences will be unavoidable: Profits will be eroded, your ability to attract and pay quality employees will suffer, and the overall health of your business will enter into a destructive decline. Yes, raising prices can be a risky business in an uncertain and competitive economic climate, but failing to keep pace with inflationary pressures poses an even greater threat. Remember, if you fail to adjust your prices to at least keep pace with inflation, you are effectively lowering them. How much do you need to increase your prices?

So, how do you go about determining the proper amount by which to increase your basic prices? If you do it on an annual basis, the calculations for figuring inflation’s effects are simple enough. Just look up the previous year’s inflation rate and adjust prices upward by that percentage. But calculating inflation’s effects over a period of two or more years can be dauntingly complex. That’s why it’s difficult to make simple dollar-to-dollar comparisons from one year to another. If you’d like an easy way to gauge inflation’s effects on some specific costs in your business, log on to This easy-to-use inflation calculator adjusts any given amount of money for inflation, according to the Consumer Price Index, from 1800 to 2002. Until the Web site’s publisher July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator

Bureau of Labor Statistics can help paint a picture When trying to get a grasp on inflationary trends to assist in your business planning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a useful thermometer for taking the “temperature” of the economy. To obtain the latest CPI reports, as well as other information, visit: Of particular interest is the monthly “Consumer Price Index Summary,” which tracks inflation for the month, yearto-date, and by various categories. Not surprisingly, the first five months of 2005 is looking bleak due to a spike in energy and dairy prices. According to the Dept. of Labor, seasonally adjusted inflation this year is 5.1 percent, compared to a 1.9 percent increase for all of 2003. While energy showed a rise of only 6.9 percent last year, it is already up 35.9 percent for the first part of 2004. Petroleum-based energy costs in particular are up 70.4 percent this year.

updates the chart to include 2003, you’ll have to add that year’s percentage of increase (1.9 percent) to the 2002 result to get the latest result. One type of economic comparison that is comparable from one era to another are figures expressed as percentages. For example, the 25 percent unemployment rate reached at the height of the depression would be just as devastating today as it was in 1933. Another economic yardstick that remains valid through the years is the prevailing interest rate. An interest rate of 2 percent on a savings account would bring the same return today as it brought 60 years ago. From another perspective, that miserly 1.2 percent interest rate on your one-year CD today, quite simply, is worth far less to you than the 10

percent you were getting 10 or 15 years ago. Further, with inflation at 1.9 percent, your investment is actually losing money. The complexities of inflation and its effect on your business can be daunting when viewed from a strictly technical perspective. However, you don’t have to be a mathematical wunderkind to benefit from an understanding of the inflation phenomenon and how it mandates upward adjustments in the rates you charge your customers. Raising prices, especially in a less than vibrant economy, may seem distasteful, even harmful, in view of competitive pressures and skittish customers. Still, an understanding of inflation and how it works leaves little room for alternatives.

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NOMMA Nationwide Supplier Members As of June 24, 2004; Bold denotes new members A Cut Above Distributing Action Ornamental Iron Advanced Measuring Systems Allen Architectural Metals Inc. Alloy Casting Co. Inc. American Punch Co. American Stair Corp. Apollo Gate Operators Architectural Iron Designs Inc. Armstrong-Blum Mfg. Co. Arteferro Miami Artezzi Artist Supplies & Products Atlas Metal Sales Aztec Castings Inc. Walid Al Baker Trading Est. Julius Blum & Co. Inc. J. G. Braun Co. Builders Fence Co. Inc. Byan Systems Inc. C.R. Laurence Co. Inc. The Cable Connection California Tool & Die Carell Corp. Chamberlain Industries George Ciocher Classic Iron Supply Cleveland Steel Tool Co. CML USA Inc. Colorado Waterjet Co. Crescent City Iron Supply Inc. Custom Orn. Iron Works Ltd. D & D Technologies (USA) Inc. D.J.A. Imports Ltd. DAC Industries Inc. Decorative Iron DécorCable Innovations DKS, DoorKing Systems Robert J. Donaldson Co. Eagle Bending Machines Inc. Eastern Metal Supply Inc. Eastern Ornamental Supply Inc. EDF Equipment Sales Inc. Elegant Aluminum Products Inc. Encon Electronics EURO-FER SRL Euro Forgings Inc. FAAC International Inc. FABCAD.USA


800-444-2999 901-795-2200 888-289-9432 800-204-3858 972-286-2368 800-243-1492 800-872-7824 210-545-2900 800-784-7444 800-472-9464 305-836-9232 800-718-6661 262-797-8101 800-662-0143 800-631-0018 011-974-460-3303 800-526-6293 800-323-4072 800-767-0367 800-223-2926 800-421-6144 775-885-1443 626-969-1821 251-937-0947 800-282-6225 201-861-3150 800-367-2639 800-446-4402 563-391-7700 970-532-5404 800-535-9842 604-273-6435 800-716-0888 800-933-5993 800-888-9768 888-380-9278 312-474-1100 800-826-7493 856-629-2737 251-937-0947 800-343-8154 800-590-7111 407-351-7017 810-293-1020 800-782-5598 011-39-044-544-0033 800-465-7143 800-221-8278 800-255-9032

FabTrol Systems Inc. Feeney Wire Rope & Rigging Inc. The G-S Co. Gates and Controls Geo. Bezdan Sales Ltd. Georgia Classic Design Glaser USA Glasswerks LA Inc. GTO Inc. Hartford Standard Co. Inc. Hayn Enterprises LLC House of Forgings Indiana Gratings Inc. Innovative Hinge Products Inc. Interstate Mfg. Associates Inc. The Iron Shop Italfer Architectural Iron Inc. ITW Industrial Finishing Jamieson Mfg. Co. Jansen Ornamental Supply Co. Inc. Justin R.P.G Corp. King Architectural Metals Joachim Krieger eK Wrought Iron Lavi Industries Lawler Foundry Corp. Lecky Metal Ornaments LLC Liberty Brass Turning Co. Mac Metals Inc. Marks U.S.A. Master-Halco Matthews International Corp. Metal Amoré Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool Frank Morrow Co. Multi Sales Inc. New Metals Inc. Ohio Gratings Inc. Omega Coating Corp. Orange Steel & Ornamental Supply Overseas Supply Inc. Polished Metals Ltd. Production Machinery Inc. R & B Wagner Inc. Regency Railings Inc. Rik-Fer Robertson Grating Products Inc. Robinson Iron Corp. Rockite, Div. of Hartline Prod. Co. Rogers Mfg. Inc.

541-485-4719 510-893-9473 410-284-9549 206-767-6224 800-663-6356 770-506-4473 888-668-8427 323-789-7800 800-543-4283 270-298-3227 860-257-0680 281-443-4848 800-634-1988 817-284-3326 603-863-4855 800-523-7427 905-455-6100 630-237-5159 214-339-8384 800-423-4494 310-532-3441 800-542-2379 011-49-64-258-1890 800-624-6225 800-624-9512 760-598-4118 800-345-5939 800-631-9510 631-225-5400 888-643-3623 412-571-5548 760-747-7200 800-467-2464 800-556-7688 562-803-3552 888-639-6382 800-321-9800 888-386-6342 305-805-6000 800-724-1018 908-688-1188 410-574-2110 800-786-2111 214-742-9408 877-838-0900 877-638-6365 256-329-8486 216-291-2303 940-325-7806

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Scotchman Industries Inc. SEA USA Inc. SECO South Sequoia Brass and Copper Sharpe Products Signon USA Sparky Abrasives Stairways Inc. Steel Masters Inc. Stephens Pipe and Steel LLC Steptoe & Wife Antiques Ltd. Stratford Gate Systems Striker Tool Co. (USA) Inc. Sumter Coatings Inc. Tennessee Fabricating Co. Texas Metal Industries

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605-859-2542 305-594-1151 888-535-7326 800-362-5255 800-879-4418 866-744-6661 800-328-4560 800-231-0793 602-243-5245 800-451-2612 800-461-0060 503-658-2881 916-374-8296 888-471-3400 800-258-4766 800-222-6033

Texas Stairs & Rails Inc. Transpacific Industrial Supply Inc. Tri-State Shearing & Bending Triebenbacher Bavarian Iron Works Triple-S Chemical Products Tubo Decorado SA de CV Tubular Specialties Mfg. Inc. Universal Entry Systems Inc. Universal Mfg. Co. Inc. Valley Bronze of Oregon W.G.F. Ironwork Products Center Inc. West Tennessee Ornamental Door Wrought Iron Concepts Inc. Wrought Iron Handicrafts Inc. XCEL Distribution Yavuz Ferforje A.S.

281-987-2115 909-390-8885 718-485-2200 800-522-4766 800-862-5958 800-345-5939 800-421-2961 800-837-4283 800-821-1414 541-432-7551 510-483-5900 901-346-0662 877-370-8000 800-456-7738 909-392-0808 011-90-258-2691664

New NOMMA Members

As of June 24, 2004; Asterisk denotes returning members

Adams & Son Ornamental Iron Monroe, LA Gary Adams Fabricator

Curves of Time Osgoode, ON Canada Ekaterina Ouchakova Fabricator

Alloy Casting Co. Inc.* Mesquite, TX Jon P. McGraw Nationwide Supplier

Custom City Ornamental Iron Santa Maria, CA Larry Livell Fabricator

Arkansas Iron & Aluminum Inc. Austin, AR Jim McClendon Fabricator Artimex Iron Co. Inc. El Cajon, CA Jose J. Padilla Local Supplier Artist Supplies & Products Elm Grove, WI David Wareham Nationwide Supplier B & B Precision Santa Rosa, CA Mike Craine Fabricator Berry’s Services Inc. Ft. Wayne, IN Fred Berry Fabricator Bighorn Forge Inc. Kewaskum, WI Dan Nauman Fabricator Century Industries Sellersburg, IN Bob Uhl Fabricator

George A. Eckart Co. Baltimore, MD Clement Gathwright Fabricator Elsmere Ironworks* Elsmere, KY Dan Goderwis Fabricator Filippi Brothers Inc. Philadelphia, PA George C. Filippi Fabricator Gallaway Industries LLC* Gallaway, TN John L. Temple Fabricator Glasswerks LA Inc. Los Angeles, CA Edwin Rosengrant Nationwide Supplier

High Noon Ornamental Tyronne, PA Mark Ritchey Fabricator The Iron Shop Inc. dba Universal Services* Laurel, MD Thomas J. Ellinger Fabricator Jordan’s Ornamental Iron Works* Cherry Hill, NJ Todd Jordan Fabricator Kenny’s Custom Iron Works Inc. San Marcos, CA Robbi Reeve Fabricator Knutson Metal Works LLC Sioux Falls, SD Brian Knutson Fabricator Kustom Mfg. Aiea, HI Marshall Silva Fabricator

Grunau Metals Oak Creek, WI Mark Gall Regional Supplier

Loco Hill Metalworks Anna, TX Richard Baggett Fabricator

Harbor Ornamental* Torrence, CA Daniel Reynoso Fabricator

Master Metal Services Inc. Davie, FL Tom McDonough Fabricator

July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator

Metal Amoré Escondido, CA Marc Corwin Nationwide Supplier Mid-Cities Iron* Southlake, TX John J. Famiglio Fabricator National Fabricators Inc.* Knightstown, IN James O’Neil Fabricator Oscar’s Custom Iron Works* San Antonio, TX Norma Hernandez Fabricator R & H Co. Inc. Metal Fabricators Easton, PA Bill Kowalchuk Fabricator Robertson Grating Products Inc.* Clackamas, OR John Robertson Nationwide Supplier Seidelhuber Metal Products Inc.* Hayward, CA Michael J. Seidelhuber Regional Supplier Sequoia Brass & Copper Hayward, CA James Barker Nationwide Supplier Scortino’s Design Suisun City, CA

Shellie Short Fabricator Skitco Iron Works Hazleton, PA Billy Roman Fabricator Southeast Railing Co. Inc.* Canton, MA Robert H. Devoe Fabricator Southeast Stairs & Rails Inc. Orlando, FL Michael Logsdon Fabricator Steel & Pipes Inc.* Caguas, PR Alberto Vidal Local Supplier The Steel Works Corp. Denver, CO Michael Weis Regional Supplier Upright Iron Works Inc.* Griffith, IN Elizabeth Mate-Lundin Fabricator Valencia Welding* West Palm Beach, FL Ferney Valencia Fabricator Ziggy’s Workshop Gastonia, NC Thomas Womble Affiliate


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What’s Hot?  Biz Briefs FABCAD.USA changes name and adds new features FABCAD.USA has changed its name to FABCAD.COM. “In 1990 when we came up with the name, the Internet was not on the radar screen,” explains Dave Filippi, President of FABCAD.COM. “The original name was set up to look like a computer file name. But today with different suffixes for internet addresses it was decided to change the name to avoid confusion.” In addition to their recent name change, FABCAD.COM offers new features for AutoRail III, a railing and gate drawing program. Enhancements include more gate choices, greater flexibility, and improvement in job estimating. Specifically, “the latest gate drawing feature allows the end user to create a gate outline while AutoRail III develops the frames and the picket infill with a bill of materials,” says Filippi. “We had eight styles of gates—now the choices are infinite.” FABCAD.COM also announces the addition of House of Forgings to its Ornamental Design Library. This inclusion provides an additional 400 designs, which includes items from the Regency Railing collection. Contact: FABCAD.COM, Ph: (800) 255-9032; Web: The Iron Shop’s Florida branch relocates The Iron Shop’s Florida branch has moved from Sarasota, FL to its new location at the Sarasota Business Center

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Inside Biz Briefs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78 Coming Events . . . . . . . . .82 NOMMA Chapters . . . .82

Literature . . . . . . . . . . .85 People . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .86 Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .88

Prevent summer injuries with OSHA health tips The hot and humid summer months mean special hazards for employers and workers who spend their days outdoors or in fabrication shops and other indoor/outdoor facilities. Fortunately, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) publishes tips on how to prevent many heat-related illnesses and injuries. “It’s important that employers and workers know how to reduce heat related illnesses and fatalities," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. “Simple precautions can often save lives.” The two most serious forms of heat related ill-

nesses are heat exhaustion (primarily from dehydration) and heat stroke, which could be fatal. OSHA offers fact sheets on these topics, as well as advice on ways to protect against Lyme Disease, West Nile Virus, exposure to ultraviolet radiation, and other injuries and illnesses. It might be a good idea to pass out OSHA’s Heat Stress Card at the next employee safety meeting. Available in English and Spanish, this laminated fold-up card is free to employers to distribute to their workers. It offers a quick reference about heat-related injuries, including warn-

ing signs, symptoms, and early treatment. To avoid heat-induced illnesses, OSHA suggests training your employees about the risks of heat exhaustion and dehydration. OSHA also suggests performing the heaviest work during the coolest part of the day; building up tolerances to the heat over a two week period; encouraging employees to work in pairs, drink plenty of water, take short frequent breaks, avoid eating large meals before work, and avoid drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages. Contact: OSHA, Ph: (800) 321-6742; Web:

“My husband made me a wind chime from scrap iron. ‘Course, it only works in a hurricane.”

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New streamlined guidelines for ADA and ABA facilities due out in late July both laws are being updated together in Requirements for Americans with one rule that contains three parts: a Disabilities Act (ADA) and document for ADA facilities, a docuArchitectural Barriers Act (ABA) facilment for ABA facilities, and a common ities will be made more consistent set of technical criteria that the other after updated and revised guidelines two documents will reference. concerning the ADA and ABA are These changes come after the Access published on July 26, 2004. The Board established an advisory commitchanges address technological develtee in 1994 to review ADAAG and recopments and changes in model codes ommend changes. The new guidelines and national standards so that ADA pertain to “All areas of newly designed and ABA continue to meet the needs or newly constructed buildings and of people with disabilities. facilities and altered portions of existOn June 25, 2004 the guidelines ing buildings and facilities” (ADAAG were approved for publication by the Review Advisory Committee Final Office of Management and Budget Report September 30, 1996). (OMB). The ADA Accessibility The Access Board will post the Guidelines (ADAAG) cover the conguidelines on its website after the struction and alteration of facilities in guidelines are pubthe private and public seclished. The Board will tor, while accessibility Contact The Access Board also provide print guidelines issued under the Ph: (800) 872-2253 copies, free upon ABA primarily address Web: request, and technical facilities in the federal secassistance. tor. The guidelines under

July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator

Biz Briefs . . . Continued on page 78.

in Venice, FL. Contact: The Iron Shop new Florida branch, 752 Commerce Dr., Suites 1 and 2, Venice, FL, Ph: (941) 484-7577; Web: Metal Museum needs a truck If anyone is interested in donating an old (working) half-ton work truck, please contact The National Ornamental Metal Museum. The truck the Metal Museum previously used for transporting sculpture and architectural pieces, hauling coal to the smithy, and pulling the portable forge to schools for demonstrations has died. They are looking for a donation of any half-ton truck that runs. Any gift is tax deductible. Contact: National Ornamental Metal Museum, Ph: (901) 7746380; Web:


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Aber Fence receives Yellow Success Award

What’s Hot ? Biz Briefs Online retainage survey American Subcontractors Association (ASA) is sponsoring an online industry-wide survey on retainage. The survey is offered through Clemson University and takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. The research, funded by the Foundation of ASA, will allow ASA “to demonstrate the truth about retainage.” The survey also serves those who take it as an educational tool by providing background about retainage. Questions ask about a company's current practice of retainage, etc. The survey is available at Construction/servlet/Page1. (This web site address is case sensitive.).

NOMMA member firm Aber Fence Co., Houston, TX, was recently been honored with the SBC Yellow Pages Spirit of Success Award. The award recognizes “success, integrity, and community involvement.” Aber Fence was chosen out of more than 900,000 SBC Yellow Pages advertisers in 13 states to receive the award. “We’re elated that our core beliefs and successful business practices have been recognized,” says Aber Fence CEO Tim Thibodeau. According to Thibodeau, Aber has grown rapidly over the past eight years. What began as a small, local, ornamental fence installer is now a full-service, multiproduct fence and outdoor security company serving residential and commercial customers. They have 23 employees. “On the commercial side, we’re doing more anti-terrorism jobs, such as

perimeter security for government facilities, petrol refineries, and water plants,” he says. “And for homeowners, we’re installing vinyl and aluminum fencing—as long as it’s maintenance-free.” Aber also provides fencing services for Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart. He says he always uses his own installers to ensure the job gets done right. Aber attributes much of his company’s success to advertising. “Early to bed, early to rise and advertise,” he says. He depends primarily upon his company’s good work and the ad he runs in the Yellow Pages, which has progressed from a 3-inch by 3-inch ad eight years ago to two full pages today. “Of course, word-of-mouth referrals are the best kind of promotion for any company,” Thibodeau says. “Then your completed work is proof of your capabilities, thoroughness, and customer satisfaction.” Worlds Finest Blacksmithing Tools and Equipment Best Prices Sold By Experienced Blacksmiths

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CSI’s new numbering scheme allows for more accurate classifications The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) announced a new six-digit numbering scheme for the 2004 edition of its MasterFormat standard, the specifications-writing standard used for most nonresidential building design and construction projects in North America. The new six-digit format replaces the five-digit format users are accustomed to, allowing for more comprehensive and detailed classification. The six digits are grouped in three pairs, each pair representing one level of classification. The first two digits signify the MasterFormat division num-

ber. The next two digits signify classification level two; the last two digits, level three. The new system allows for 10 times as many subjects at each level of classification, and allows for more specific classification of topics. CSI has posted the new numbering system, along with new section numbers and titles, on the Internet at CSI encourages users to start familiarizing themselves with changes to make the transition to the new scheme easier. Contact: CSI, Ph: (800) 689-2900; Web: visit

AWS revises standard for qualification of welding fabricators The American Welding Society (AWS) B5G Subcommittee on Fabricators has completed its revision of AWS B5.17:2004, Specification

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Biz Briefs Free AGA design poster The American Galvanizers Association (AGA) now has a free design poster, "Design for Galvanizing," available for order. This wall poster serves as a quick reference when designing steel fabrications to be hot-dip galvanized. Developed to aid in “optimized turnaround times, minimized costs, and a superior-quality end-product,” the poster addresses topics such as the placement and site of vent and drain holes, welding, identification marking products, service-life prediction, and more. Contact: Sue Bieber, AGA, Ph: (800) 468-7732, ext. 11; E-mail:

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What’s Hot ? Coming Events

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NOMMA chapter news

SoCal Chapter holds June meeting and annual Education Extravaganza LEFT: SoCal Chapter held its annual Educational Extravaganza.

July 18, 2004–Feb. 6, 2005 Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum

A touring exhibition of more than 100 works premiere at the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington D.C. Organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London and the NGA, the exhibit covers a wide range of metalworking techniques practiced in the Middle East during the Islamic period, with pieces dating from the eighth century AD to the twentieth, including copper alloy pieces with cast decoration. Contact: National Gallery of Art, Ph: (202) 737-4215; Web:



Meeting attendees viewed a patina demonstration.

The Southern California Chapter held a meeting on June 5, 2004 at Custom Lights & Iron in National City, CA. Attendees watched a finishing demonstration by Ron Young of Sculpt Nouveau. Young illustrated techniques for creating various finishes and patinas and provided the audience with samples and brochures. The host

raffled a Lincoln welder. Afterwards, everyone enjoyed a shop tour and a demonstration of Joachim Krieger equipment. Then on Saturday, June 6, the SoCal Chapter held its annual Education Extravaganza, also at

Custom Light & Iron. Contact: Hans Duus, Hans Duus Blacksmith Inc., Ph: (805) 688-9731.

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Upper Midwest Chapter has cutting and forging demonstration

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Florida Chapter enjoys copper demonstration

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July 18–Sept. 19, 2004 A Work in Progress: Long Hours, No Pay

Ephraim Forge’s Roger Carlsen leads forging demo.

The Upper Midwest NOMMA Chapter held its last meeting on May 8, 2004 at Ephraim Forge, Frankfort, IL. The group enjoyed a demonstration by Roger Carlsen that included plasma cutting on the Tracker, forging and forming of custom pickets and scroll ends, and repoussé. The next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, September 11, 2004 when they will hold elections and have another demonstration. Contact: Breck Nelson, Kelley Ornamental Iron LLC, Peoria, IL, Ph: (309) 697-9870.

Coming Events

Winona of the meeting’s host shop, The Valentines, led a copper demonstration.

At the Florida Chapter meeting in Ft. Myers, FL on Saturday, June 5, 2004, Winona from host shop The Valentines gave a copper forged demonstration. She showed attendees how to take copper sheet metal and applying a texture to it. Winona has made several copper forged chimneys. Florida’s next chapter meeting is tentatively scheduled for August 21, 2004 in Tampa. Contact: John Wilkinson, Sunmaster of Naples Inc., Ph: (239) 261-3581.

The third exhibition in the Work in Progress series celebrating the National Ornamental Metal Museum’s 25th anniversary is going on at the Metal Museum in Memphis, TN. The exhibit shows the work of the many metal artists who “hang out” there. Contact: National Ornamental Metal Museum, Ph: (901) 774-6380; Web: Sept. 13–14, 2004 Economic Summit: Forecast 2005

The Metal Service Center Institute meets in Rosemont, IL at the Hyatt Regency Hotel O’Hare for an economic forum. Contact: MSCI, Ph: (773) 8671300; Web:


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Coming Events Sept. 25 and 26, 2004 One Year Anniversary Open House and Blacksmith Clinic

Pieh Tool Company hosts its third semi-annual blacksmith clinic co-sponsored by the Arizona Artist Blacksmith Association. Demonstrator Bob Heath will travel to Camp Verde, AZ to demonstrate various techniques by hand and on the Anyang 88 Air Hammer. Contact: Amy Pieh, Pieh Tool Company, Ph: (888) 743-4866; Web:

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Event Spotlight

Metal Museum celebrates 25 years The National Ornamental Metal Museum, Memphis, TN, celebrated its 25th anniversary on April 18, 2004. The commemoration included a barbeque lunch open to the public, live music, a metal art exhibit, and an opening ceremony for the new Lawler Foundry. The Metal Museum is open Tuesday–Saturday 10–5 and Sunday 12–5.

TOP: Metal Museum board member Greer Simonton (nearest to camera) is among the guests who enjoyed the new terrace next to the Riverbluff Pavilion overlooking the Mississippi River.

Sept. 26–29, 2004 ICC Annual Conference

Salt Lake City’s Salt Palace hosts this year’s International Code Council (ICC) Codes Forum. Early registration discount ends August 1. Contact: ICC, Ph: (800) 2144321; Web:

LEFT: The 25th anniversary included a live band. Drummer Hank Widdup had a piece in the first Metal Museum exhibit. He and his wife Betsy were the first couple to be married on the grounds.

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What’s Hot ? Literature New book from NEF A Pictorial Encyclopedia of Decorative Ironwork Twelfth Through Eighteenth Centuries, edited by Otto Hoever, is now available from the Pictorial NOMMA Encyclopedia of Education Decorative Foundation Ironwork (NEF). The book includes over 450 photographs of ornamental wrought iron work. All illustrations are black and white and copyright free. Contact: NEF, Ph: (404) 363-4009; Web:

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Literature spotlight

A refreshingly traditional book By Mark E. Williams, PhD ABANA member

material. For this design, there are seven pages of detailed drawings and descriptions to make the construction With all the emphasis lately on gasof such a forge straightforward. fired forges, it is refreshing to see a Additional designs include welded firebook solely on the topic of solid (charpots, flues, chimneys, blower speed coal, coal, and coke) fuel devices. This controls, and some safety items. There short book is a selection of well-executare discussions of the use of charcoal, ed and detailed designs of forges, firecoal, and coke as forge fuels. And there pots, hoods, and other solid fuel needs. is also a very good article on chimneys Anyone with some mechanical ability for the forge and another on blowers. should be able to take these designs While this book is not an exhausand build a suitable forge complete tive collection of forge designs, it contains enough information to get one with hood, chimney, blower, and air started building. Plus, a one-page list gate. Many different forge designs are of resources directs readers where to presented because no one design will go for more information. suit everyone. While all the designs are I feel this book is an excellent addiinteresting, I find the most interesting tion to anyone’s forge design to be one library. It teaches readconstructed of concrete. Coal Forge Handbook Compiled by Stephen McGehee ers how to build a I would not have Published by ABANA 2003 forge without having thought to use concrete To order, visit: to “reinvent the wheel.” as a forge building

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Member Spotlight

What’s Hot ?

Metals program gives alternative students a better way to learn


Catoosa Crossroads Academy in North Georgia is an affiliate member of NOMMA. The alternative school for at-risk youths offers a metalworking program implemented and run by Jack Towns. Towns is a teacher by trade and a metalsmith by the grace of his students.

Contech Construction Products J. Phil Perry, a senior regional sales engineer for Contech Construction Products has received an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Award of Merit from Committee A05 on Metallic-Coated Iron and Steel Products. The honor includes the title of fellow and is the highest Society recognition for individual contributions to standards activities. Perry was cited for his outstanding contributions to the standardization of corrugated steel pipe materials and technology in A05. He currently serves as chair of subcommittees A05.17 and B07.08.

at Catoosa Crossroads Academy help at-risk students? Towns: The alternative school allows them to learn in a way that better suits their needs. There are four different known learning styles. Typically, students with disruptive behavior problems learn better with their hands. That’s why they don’t do so well in traditional classrooms. My students tend to be kinetic learners. Recently I worked with an English teacher on a course on Shakespeare. The students built a theater replicating The Old Globe Theatre. It was 6 feet by 4 feet. They welded and built the stage and balcony and the bleachers. Eventually other students came up to them and asked them what they were building, and the builders told the other students all about Shakespeare.

Interview by Rachel Squires Bailey Managing Editor Fabricator: What do you do? Jack Towns: I teach welding and blacksmithing at an alternative school for sixth through twelfth graders. The students come to our school after being expelled from their local schools for classroom disruption and poor attendance. This is a last chance opportunity for these students. Fabricator: How does the program

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Jack Towns (middle) runs a metalworking program at an alternative school for at-risk students in North Georgia. Towns attributes the success of his program to the hands-on learning style it affords his students.

Fabricator: Do you have any disciplinary problems? Towns: No, once they get here the students run to class. It’s like Brer Rabbit being thrown in the briar patch. They finally feel at home here. Fabricator: What kinds of metalwork do your students make?

in middle grade education. But I didn’t want to go into administration. In 1993 I started teaching at Catoosa Academy. I taught drafting and small engine repair at first. But I noticed the kids really loved metalworking. So for three years I taught during the day and took night classes to earn a diploma in welding and certificates for MIG, stick, and TIG welding. Georgia’s Hope scholarship paid for it.

Wagner Companies The Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) has recently installed its new slate of officers for 2004–2005. Tony Leto, The The Wagner Wagner Co.’s Companies’ Executive Vice President Tony Leto, joins MSCI’s board of directors. MSCI represents 375 metal purchasers in North America. According to Leto, the biggest issue facing MSCI right now is the rising costs of metals and the decrease in domestic manufacturing as a result of low-cost, overseas production. MSCI is currently focused on presenting the issues of Chinese currency manipulation to elected officials, manufacturers, workers, and suppliers through locally held town hall meetings.

Towns: We build metal sculptures that we call yard critters. The kids sell them through local nurseries and all of the money goes back into the program for buying supplies. An art gallery in Dalton, GA also sells our art. The gallery keeps 30 percent and then sends the rest back to the program. We’ve also made jewelry for a jewelry show before. Being a member of the Chattanooga Choo Choo Forge helps too. They support us by donating tongs, coal, forges, and other tools. Fabricator: Do you continue your own metalworking education? Towns: I’ve taken several courses at the John C. Campbell School and teach the students what I learn there. Lately, the students seem interested in making more flowers, so I plan to take a course on forging copper flowers next. Fabricator: Did you weld first or teach first? Towns: I’ve always worked with at-risk kids. I’ve taught math and science since 1983 and have a master’s degree July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator


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What’s Hot ?

Product spolight

Web sites for fabricators

Product review Stainless cleaning product By Rachel Squires Bailey I recently tried out Lido-Lustre Metal Polish Cream after reading about it on the NOMMA e-mail discussion list. Several fabricators recommended it as a tool clients can use to maintain a clean shine on their interior stainless steel rails. I agree with this recommendation; however, I think fabricators should also provide some additional tips to their clients on using Lido-Lustre effectively. While I don’t have stainless steel rails, I do have some stainless steel appliances. I’ve tried several different stainless steel cleaning products available at retail stores and have been disappointed in all continued on page 90 . . .

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Wrought Iron Concepts now provides web sites for ornamental and miscellaneous metal fabricators. These web sites are designed to assist customers in developing ideas visually by enabling them to view ornate accessory products online. This can reduce man-hours fabricators spend on customer service. Web site packages include: home page, project photo gallery, an online catalog, a contact page with request for information form, access to view, add or update website content, pictures, and text at any time, and domain name registration. Fabricators can choose from three web site styles with various color schemes. There is an initial setup fee and a monthly service charge. But fabricators don’t even need a computer. “We spent a lot of time marketing, developing, and perfecting our own website,” says Jeremiah Goode, mar-

The above picture illustrates a sample home page and available color palette.

keting manager of Wrought Iron Concepts. “Once it began to consistently prove itself, we realized it could benefit fabricators as well. I think fabricators will be extremely pleased to discover how much time they and their customers will save.” Contact: Jeremiah Goode, Wrought Iron Concepts Inc., Ph: (877) 370-8000; Web:

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Lower parts inventory, eliminate high shipping costs and increase productivity. Make quality parts to your own standards and specifications with ease. This equipment sets up in minutes to produce: belly bars, balusters, baskets, scrolls, forge scroll ends and cold roll bars for the hammered look. Built by a metal fabricator for the metal fabricator, this reliable equipment is easy to use. You assemble the machine components to meet your needs. Contact Harry Haack at Glaser USA, Inc. 1-888-668-8427 or email (Visit our web site at


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CML USA Inc. Ercolina’s new rotary draw Giga Bender from CML USA produces repeatable, accurate bends in tube or pipe to six-inch diameter. The bender’s heavy-duty gear case comes with two bend speeds, and its brush free induction motors accommodate 0-180 degree bends with center line radius as tight as three times material diameter without a mandrel. An optional mandrel system adapts Giga Bender for bends requiring an internal mandrel. Tooling is available with centerline bend radius up to 39 inches. Special tooling is also available for squares, solids, and other profiles. The bender has a programmable control with digital display that stores thirty individual programs each with nine separate bend angle and material

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spring-back values. Contact: CML USA Inc., Ph: 563-391-7700; Web:

the crank is inserted. Contact: Chamberlain Professional Products, Ph: (800) 323-2276; Web:

Gate operator

Anti-locking drill

Chamberlain Professional Products Chamberlain Professional Products has recently introduced a modified SL3000UL commercial slide gate operator that now meets all UL325 requirements, including Class I-IV specifications. The Model SL3000UL travels at a speed of 12 inches per second and is designed for commercial, heavy duty, or continuous duty applications that require high cycles and large gates. The operator’s design supports gate lengths up to 37 feet and gate weights up to 2,000 pounds. The gate operator features an electronic motor disconnect which stops the motor from activating while

DeWALT DEWALT now offers two 1/2-inch corded drills with AntiLock Control (ALC), the DW239 and DW249. DEWALT’s patented ALC technology senses a stall or lock-up situation and instantaneously produces rapid pulses to break the bit free. If the bit cannot break free, the tool shuts off. The DW239 features a 7.8 amp motor, non-slip grip, and variable-speed control from 0 to 850 rpm. The DW249 offers a third-gear reduction and variable-speed control from 0 to 600 r.p.m. for highertorque drilling requirements.


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Contact: DeWALT, Ph: (800) 4339258; Web: Miter box

. . . review continued from page 88.

of them. So I decided to give Lido-Lustre a try. The application and cleaning process reminded me of polishing my mother’s silverware. However, Lido-Lustre requires a little more elbow grease than I expected. Therefore, when recommending this product to your clients, I suggest emphasizing the word “small” where the directions say to apply a small amount of the blue cream. And while the directions on Lido-Lustre’s box recommend using only a clean cloth to apply and a clean cloth to buff, I think a buffing disc and wheel should also be included. At least warn your clients that polishing metal requires a good deal more effort than polishing wood furniture. Despite the necessary effort, Lido-Lustre’s protective layer of silicone gives it an edge over any other stainless steel cleaning product I’ve tried. I found Lido-Lustre available through The Wagner Companies (, 888-243-6914) and Lavi Industries (, 800-624-6225).

StingerPower Inc.

New from StingerPower Inc. comes the MITERZ-ALL miter box. It was originally designed for aiding in the installation of handrail and ornamental iron, where small 120 Volt welders are in use. MITERZ-ALL makes straight angular cuts in minimal space, allowing users to make highly accurate cuts at angles up to 60°. According to the manufacturer, the compact miter box fits in a user’s back pocket. Contact: StingerPower Inc., Ph: (800) 897-8793; Web: Abrasive cords and tapes

E.C. Mitchell Co. Inc. A line of abrasive cords and tapes for deburring, grinding, and finishing contours, holes, and slots on machined and cast parts is now available from E.C. Mitchell Co. Inc. Mitchell’s Abrasive Cords and Tapes contain aluminum oxide or silicon carbide abrasives and come in a variety of sizes.

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“Stealth” ROLLER square pipe

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According to the manufacturer, the cords are flexible for working on curved surfaces but stiff enough for reaching into holes and slots. The abrasive cords are available in sizes from .012 inch to .15 inch O.D. and the flat tapes come in 1/16 inch to 1/4 inch wide. Both are packaged on spools in 50 foot lengths. Contact: E.C. Mitchell Co. Inc., Ph: 978) 774-1191; Web: Plate beveler

Heck Industries Inc. Heck Industries presents a new increased capacity plate beveler. The Model 9000 Bevel-Mill produces bevels up to 13/16 inch and is intended for weld preparation beveling. The unit uses standard carbide inserts in a milling cutter for beveling most machinable materials, including mild steel, aluminum, and stainless steel. The BevelMill is self-supporting on the workpiece and hand fed along the plate edge. Contact: Heck Industries Inc., Ph: (810) 632-5400. Protective plastic films

Advantage Plastics Co. LLC Advantage Plastics Co. now offers MetalGuard Films, thermoplastic polyurethane materials designed to protect metal workpieces from pressbrake operations. The film comes in 4inch and 6-inch thicknesses. According to the manufacturer, the film is soft and pliable yet extremely tough. It is held in place by taping the ends to the female die with masking tape, and one strip can be used several times. Contact: Advantage Plastics Co. LLC, Ph: (920) 231-4386. Fabricator ■ July-August 2004


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Classifieds Recruiter Employment nationwide in structural/miscellaneous steel fabrication. ProCounsel is in communication with over 3,000 structural/ miscellaneous and ornamental steel fabricators. We can market your skills (estimator, project manager, detailer, shop manager) to the city or state of your choice without identifying you. Employer pays fee. The right location, the right job, at the right money. ProCounsel: Buzz Taylor. Call toll free (800) 545-5900, or (214) 741-3014. Fax: (214) 7413019. CAD Detailer Job Opening Small Northern Virginia custom metal fabrication Shop. Vectorworks and AutoCAD experience a plus. Stainless steel, brass, copper, aluminum. High end residential/ornamental products. Good pay and ben-

Contact Rachel Squires Bailey at (423) 4136436, or

Please note, classified ads promote a one-time sale or offer, or a job listing.

efits. Call (703) 823-1661, ext. 210, or fax resume to (703) 823-1668.

Send resume to: Aluminations Services Inc., 9350 Workman Way, Fort Myers, FL 33905.

Business Wanted— Ornamental Iron Supplier Local, regional, or national ornamental iron supplier business which supplies forged components to fabricators and/or installers. Please call Michael at (720) 635-8013. Supervisor/ Fabricator Wanted Supervise a team of craftsmen in the use of specialized welding/fabrication machinery. Draw up blueprints. Design and installation of specific intricate ornamental fixtures. Fabrication of custom-made items specifically using aluminum. Minimum two years experience. Minimum BS in Mechanical Technology and Manufacturing or functional equivalent. 40 hr/wk, 8a.m.–5p.m., M–F, competitive salary.

Sales Associate Wanted Eleven-year-old company seeks salesperson to relocate to Colorado (Denver metro area). Need to have background in driveway gate Systems and access controls, residential and commercial. Huge opportunity for right individual. Please fax resume to 303-574-1469 or e-mail to or call 303-574-1419 for interview. Ask for Steve. Metal Finisher Job Opening Small Northern Virginia custom metal fabrication Shop. Vectorworks and AutoCAD experience a plus. Stainless steel, brass, copper, Continued on page 91. . .

Artist-Blacksmith’s Association of North America


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PO Box 816 Farmington, GA 30638 (706) 310-1030 (706) 769-7147 FAX


31 Years



July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator


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Get the information you need! Join NOMMA today. NOMMA ListServ eb Area resources: s Only W following Member’ ess to the I 117.1)

NS have acc AG, and A risons) Members rea (ADA A pa rt m o p co p e u • ADA S ding cod port (inclu pport) p u su S ty e fe d o sa rs) •C rator y membe (gate ope bmitted b icles) su rt s a • UL 325 te ” ri to ricks (favo collection of “how • Tips & T r (A Fabricato • Best of

Get answers from your peers on our friendly e-mail discussion list. Once you subscribe, you’ll become a part of a community of members who are glad to share information and assist fellow members.

Technical Support For quest ions related to building codes and standards, ou r Technical Consultan t Tim Moss available to help m is embers.

Mission statement: NOMMA serves its members and advances the industry through education and the promotion of a positive business environment.

As a NOMMA member, you receive valuable tools to help your business: • Fabricator’s Journal - A publication of the NOMMA Education Foundation, this booklet features “how to” articles on topics ranging from finishes to core drilling. • TechNotes - Get the latest updates on codes, standards, and regulations that impact YOUR business. • Member’s Only Area - Access the “Member’s Only” area on the NOMMA website for free downloads and technical support for UL 325, ADA, and codes. • The Business Owner - Obtain the latest advice on small business issues, including legal concerns, taxes, estate planning, and more.

Additional membership benefits: • Starter Kit - Soon after you join, you’ll receive a kit containing a Membership Directory, Supplier Directory, educational publications, and sales aids. • Discount Rates - You’ll enjoy discounts on all NOMMA publications and association sponsored events, including educational seminars and our annual convention. • Affiliation - You receive a membership certificate, decal, and camera-ready logos to use on your stationery and business forms. • Subscriptions - Membership includes a subscription to Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metal Fabricator. • Top Job Competition - Enter your best work in our annual awards contest, which is open to member’s only. • Technical Affairs Division - Your dues support the work of our technical team, which insures that fabricator interests are represented at code hearings and other meetings around the country. Membership Category - Check One:

Please note:

❑ $320 - Fabricator ❑ $490 - Nationwide Supplier (Firms selling to fabricators beyond

• The membership year runs from July 1 to June 30.

500 miles)

❑ $375 - Regional Supplier (Firms selling to fabricators within 500 miles)

❑ $295 - Local Supplier (Firms selling to fabricators within 150 miles) ❑ $240 - Affiliate (Teachers and educational organizations)

• Membership dues payments are not deductible as charitable contributions, but may be deducted as an ordinary and necessary business expense. • By signing this application, you agree to abide by NOMMA’s Bylaws and Code of Ethics upon acceptance. • Make checks payable to: NOMMA (U.S. dollars, check drawn on U.S. bank).

Company Name __________________________________________ Your Name ________________________________________ Address __________________________________________________________________________________________________ City _____________________________ State _________ Zip _________________ Country _______________________________ Phone ____________________________ Fax __________________________ Sponsor (if any) ____________________________ E-mail __________________________________________________ Web ______________________________________________ Company Specialty/Description ________________________________________________________________________________ Signature ___________________________________________ Payment Method: ❑ Check ❑ VISA ❑ MC ❑ AMEX ❑ Discover Credit card no.____________________________________________________________________________ Exp. ______/_______ Exact name on card ______________________________________ Signature ______________________________________

Return To: NOMMA, 532 Forest Pkwy., Suite A, Forest Park, GA 30297. (404) 363-4009. Fax: (404) 366-1852. Updated: 5/04

Jul 04 Fab (rachel).qxd


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aluminum. High end residential/ ornamental products. Good pay and benefits. Call (703) 823-1661, ext. 210, or fax resume to (703) 823-1668. Fabricator Wanted Metal fabricator with over five years experience in high-end residential custom metal projects. Ability in all phases of fabrication including helical stair and radius

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layout, excellence in TIG welding, commitment to produce consistent superior product, and a team player are qualities desired for growing shop in MA. Competitive salary and benefits for experience and performance. Contact or call (508) 564-5777. Project Manager Wanted

Project Manager needed for Ornamental Aluminum Fabrication

Advertiser’s index Pg 20 41 10 12 4 91 62 85 66 55 50 18 34 43 79 14 26 61 69 87 3 19 90 22 49 43 73 63 83 27 25 88 45 71 65 58 33 69 56 96 60

Company Name ............................................................Contact Acme Metal Spinning All-O-Matic Architectural Iron Designs Architectural Iron Designs Architectural Products ARTMETAL Atlas Metal Sales Birchwood Casey Julius Blum & Co. Inc. J.G. Braun Co. Byan Systems Inc. CAME Carell Corporation Classic Iron Supply Cleveland Steel Tool CML USA Inc. Colorado Waterjet Co. COMEQ Inc. Crescent City Iron Supply ..........................(800) 535-9842 D & D Technologies (USA) D.J.A Imports Ltd. DAC Industries Inc. DécorCable Innovations DKS, DoorKing Systems Eagle Bending .......... Eberl Iron Works Inc. Encon Electronics Feeney Wire Rope & Rigging .............. Glaser Graham The G-S Hawke Industries ..........................................(909) 928-9453 Hebo GmbH House of Forgings International Gate Devices Iron Craft ..........................................................(559) 688-4766 The Iron Shop Ironwood/Brian Russell

July-August 2004 ■ Fabricator

shop in beautiful Southwest Florida. Skills required include: project planning, engineering and crew management, AutoCAD 2000 proficient, material takeoff and procurement, multitask scheduling, proven ability to complete projects safely, within budget and on time. Brand new shop; 11 years in business. Excellent pay and benefits. Contact Jim Lowndes at (239) 369-3000,, or

Firms in boldface are first-time advertisers. 24 68 82 80 81 31 2 60 80 9 48 82 84 86 35 89 88 53 46 89 29 23 21 72 95 39 61 26 30 83 32 37 51 57 42 71 85 91 63 68 84 7

Jansen Ornamental Jesco Industries Inc. K Dahl Glass Studios Kayne & Son King Architectural Lawler Foundry Corp. Lewis Brass & Copper Co. Inc. Liberty Ornamental Products ....................(800) 636-5470 Lindblade Metal Marks U.S.A. Master-Halco Mittler Bros. Machine & Tool Pat Mooney Inc. Multi Sales Inc. New Metals Inc. Oak Hill Iron Works Ol' Joint Jigger Production Machinery Inc. R & B Wagner Inc., R & D Hydraulics Mfg. Regency Rik-Fer USA ....................................................(630) 350-0900 Sharpe Products Simsolve ..........................................................(909) 737-2480 Sparky Abrasives Co. ....................................(800) 328-4560 Stairways Inc. Steptoe & Wife StingerPower Inc. Striker Tool Co. (USA) Inc. Striker Tool Co. (USA) Inc. Sumter Coatings Inc. Sur-Fin Chemical Corp. Tennessee Fabricating Co. Tennessee Fabricating Co. Texas Metal Texas Stairs & Rails Tornado Supply Traditional Building Triple-S Chemical Products Tri-State Shearing & Bending ....................(718) 485-2200 Universal Entry Systems Inc. ......................(800) 837-4283 Wrought Iron Concepts


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What’s your favorite shop tool? our

Drill Press Fabricator: Lee Rodrigue, Virginia Architectural Metals Favorite tool: Drill Press Why: It’s a workhorse and performs beautifully. Lee’s sister-in-law,Crystal Rodrigue, takes advantage of the features on their shop’s Ellis 12000. The machine makes repetitive drilling easy, with direction and speed controls readily accessible on a console left of the drill press.

You can’t beat the Ellis 12000 By Lee Rodrigue Virginia Architectural Metals When we needed a drill press to do a job with over 10,000 drilled and tapped holes, we went to the company who made the bandsaw we have used for over 10 years now: Ellis Manufacturing ( We use the Model 12000, which is their top-of-the-line model. Our older version doesn’t have the digital RPM readout that the newer one does, but it has been a workhorse and has performed beautifully. The auto-feed feature is easy to understand and set and will drill holes to a specified depth reliably within 1/32 inch. Once the drill is turning and the feed is set, downward pressure, release, and retraction is all performed automatically. No more cranking down on the feed arm to drill your hole! Plus, since the feed is done with a constant pressure, the cutting is more uniform, extending the life of your bits and speeding the completion time. The 12000 has a fully variable speed adjustment using a dial, which goes from almost 2,000 RPMs to 0 instantly (and everything in between). No changing belts; no pulleys. We’ve probably drilled over 20,000 holes on it, and it’s still powering through 1-inch diameter holes like a champ. The tremendous low-speed torque helps make large drill bits, and countersinks last 10 times longer and cut two to three times faster than using a hand drill.

Fab Feedback

Once the auto-feed has been engaged, the operator can relax while the hole literally drills itself!

We purchased the drill press with a small milling table, which has proven to be amazingly useful. Although the quality of the table and base does not permit highprecision milling, we can use it to mill simple slots and keyholes with ease. In addition, large pieces can be clamped to the milling table, and small precise adjustments can be made with the hand cranks (instead of trying to move an 800-pound post by tapping it with a hammer). Although it is capable of tapping (made possible by an instant reverse switch), the high torque makes it easy to break smaller taps if not set up properly. I prefer tapping with a Tapmatic R-series ( or hand drill with variable torque settings instead. For larger taps, this is not an issue. The Ellis 12000 was about $3,000 when we first got it, but by increasing drilling efficiency, it paid for itself very quickly. In addition, by having such a high torque at slower speeds, the bits and countersinks last significantly longer, reducing our consumable expenses. Additional features:

• Immediate reversal: If you can flip a switch or, better yet, set a depth at which the drill direction will reverse itself (ours won’t do this), tapping holes becomes an automatic process without an additional Tapmatic. I used to buy a tap for every 10-#8 holes I had to do in stainless steel by hand. Now it’s more like one every 200 holes, and I don’t bruise my palms. • RPM indicators: It doesn’t have to be digital, but if you can easily tell how fast the bit is turning, you can use existing charts to maximize your drilling efficiency. Any machine shop textbook will tell you what speed and feed rates are optimum for the material and hole size you’re drilling. Photocopy the chart and post it next to the machine. • Accurate depth gauge: Using the depth gauge and automatic feed with release takes the guesswork out of drilling holes that almost penetrate the opposing face of your material. • Simplicity: The features on the Ellis 12000 are easy to set up and use. The easier it is to figure out the special features of a machine, the more likely it is that your employees will use them and the less likely it is that they’ll break the machine.


Share your metal tidbits. Do you have a favorite tool you’d like to tell other fabricators about? Or do you have a question you’d like to ask our readers? Simply telephone the Editor at (404) 363-4009; Fax (404) 366-1852, or e-mail the Editor at


Fabricator ■ July-August 2004

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Metal Spirals from



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Jul 2004 Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metal Fabricator