You Can Make All Kinds Of Cool Stuff With Chain!
Using chain links to build items for everyday use or décor is a tediously rewarding experience. Compared to welding sheets of metal, link welding requires not only skilled hands but patient ones as well.
This is primarily because you will have only a beads length of space to get a flat weld without an undercut; and without making it too hot and burning a ditch into the link; and without letting it too cold and have the weld crawl up the wire like a wall crawler; and finally minding the oxidation at your tips tip from introducing a surprise rust bomb into the design.
In a phrase, you will have minimum of weld-able surface area and various parameters to look out for every few seconds. Does this make it impossible for someone with novice experience at welding? No, but it will be an adventurous challenge.
In this article I will show you how to build something cool, and then provide you with inspirational ideas using chain link as well as motorcycle chain...
Link by Link Welding Projects!
From the above it can be seen that we will be dealing with two different categories of welding projects using chain link:
1.Projects for Interior Dcor
2.Projects for Daily Use
Each category involves certain factors that cannot be compromised and hence we will guide you through the important steps. By the end of each project you will have the basic path laid out before you. Hence after each project we will outline some ideas to tease your curiosity into further adventurous actions.
Metal Art Guides:
If you already have plans for a memorable sunbathing experience away from your workbench then don’t forget to wear full sleeved shirt, and gloves. Each project will require a different gauge of chain link and hence you will need to tune your MIG or Arc welder to get the bead for the perfect weld. To so you will need to do the following:
The first thing you will need to do before starting on any category will be to test practice your welding because the only cost effective way of un-welding would be to cut through the weld and well, break it. Furthermore, given the size of the links, you won't find any grinder (except if you have caught some little people) that can grind or bevel the weld.
The first thing to welding is to clean the metal and this holds true even for steel chain links. Next, hold the links tight preferably using a tension jig.
Next you will have to find the right tuning for your weld so that it is neither cold nor too hot. The same rule of thumb for normal welding applies here. If the arc/welding noise breaks with ‘pops’ then your weld is cold and if you burn ditches or holes through the links then it’s too hot.
Furthermore, you must keep the distance between your torch/stick and the weld so that it’s always protected by the gas else you’ll have dangerous porous welds. Lastly, keep track of how fast your wire is pushing or dragging through the weld- going too fast will leave a cold weld and going too slow will burn holes!
How to Make a Chain Link Bottle Holder:
Let's start with a simple bottle holder for your table décor. Its gravity defying look is both eyecatching and confounding for any newcomer in your room.
Time required: 1 Hour
1. Calculate the Total Length of the Chain:The complete structure will comprise of a circular base; an arching pillar; and a bottle socket. The total length of the wire will depend firstly on the diameter of the bases circle. The diameter should be at least half the length of the bottle you intend to hold in it. The arch pillar and the socket are the central to creating the gravity defying illusion. Hence the more loose and natural fall the arc will have, the greater the impact. Around 50 cm will do just fine.
2. Build the Arc Pillar:
Mark the number of links you'll need for the base. From that point raise the chain links- they will groove into a graceful and natural arc. Now welding it while the arc hangs (even if it's not your hand) is a complex job. Instead you can spread on a flat surface and pushes weld it easily.
NOTE: in case you're wondering about push welding. It is a method that quickly heats up the weld. You'll start from the outside and push the wire towards the center. Later you will turn the base over and do the same on the other side of the same link.
3. Build the Socket:When the arch pillar has cooled wrap the non-base end of the chain twice around the bottle. Mark the points where the links complete one circle. Weld only the links that form the socket for the bottle in similar fashion to the arc pillar. DO NOT weld the link that connects the socket and the arc pillar or the remaining chain handing at the end of the socket. It will naturally hang down.
4. Building the base:Spread the chain link on a flat plain in a semi circular shape with the diameter at least half the length of the normal wine bottle. Again pushes weld the links from both the ends. DO NOT weld at least two links at the end of base that connect it to the arch pillar.
5. Joining the Sections:
Now you have three sections of the gravity defying bottle stand. The final deciding welding effort is in connecting firstly the links between the base and the arc pillar. Hand the arc pillar using a wire or strong thread; adjust the base by moving it to and fro so that it's natural looking. Once the welds have cooled down place the bottle in the socket and adjust the angle of the socket. You can know the angle at which you have to weld the link by the distance between the loose links (the hanging ones) and the floor. Once sure of it, trigger the final weld for your gravity defying bottle holder!
Whenever you build a chain link object that has multiple stories (e.g. for the holder, we had a base, a pillar and the socket) always divide it into sections. A section as you now know DOES NOT mean that you will make separate parts and combine them. As seen from the above procedure, a section simply means that you stiff several parts through welding and then hold them in the desired design to weld the holding joints later.
Now you know the basics. Lets try some adventurous projects shall we?
Try a Candle Holder!
The steps remain the same. You will have to divide the whole project into a base, a pillar, and the arcs. The only thing is that you have to start with the arcs first, the pillar second and finally the base. This is because it will be easier for you to balance the whole ornament easily even if you make some minor mistakes in welding the links.
NOTE: last time you saw that we were using the leverage created by the bottle to stabilize our ornament. This time we do not have that advantage. Hint: Keep the pillar straight. Start from the center of the base!
Double Candle Holder Image Source.
A Standing Lamp!
Seems simple? Hm, then you must have missed the gauge of the lamp's chain links! This project requires not only precise link welds but also the effective use of both drag and push method of welding. Furthermore, it will test your skills at perfectly tuning your MIG/welder. So whether your stick sounds like frying a bacon or seamlessly gives a flat weld will greatly affect how tall your ‘lamp stand’ stands. Getting this project right means you can start working on the zombie axe displayed next!
TIP: Once again break the whole project into several pillars. It will be better if you hot weld small holes in both the links and 'plug weld' them. When the holes start burning, shift from hot to drag welding - simply tilt your wire at 45o angle and lead it away from the weld. This will refill the small holes with molten metal and reinforce the new joint. Standing Lamp Image Source.
How About Zombie Slayer Axe?
You know the drill from the previous project! If you think you have mastered the plug welding process then go ahead and instead of adding a lamp and wire to either end. You know what is needed!
Ready to Chain Link a Table?
By now you know about planning your project; creating arcs and pillars; and the intuition to employ different welding techniques. To create table using chain, your major concern will be to balance the whole structure so that it does not wobble from end to end.
The best way to do that will be to either sub divide the four semi circular arcs into two arcs and connect the lower arcs together first and balancing the remaining. Chain Link Table Image Source.
To create eight arcs separately and create symmetrical upper and lower halves, finding the right balance and welding them.
Weld Together A Grill With Chain Link:
This chain link grill or barbecue is a all stainless 14 gauge steel. Every link is welded. The metal grill top is extened, there is slick dial bracing in the middle. It is 16 x 34 inches, and 2 1/2' tall! By Jamie Trimnal.
Chain Link Sculpture:
Pictured here is a nice piece of garden art, or it could be used in your interior. It's a 'critter' as the artist calls it. Chain Link Garden Art Critter Source
Motorcycle Chain Link Idea:
Here's another unique way to use chain link. Build a motorcycle part or even the frame. Pictured here is what's called a sissy bar on a motorcycle made from welded chain links.
Other ways they are used on motorcycles are to weld together a set of handlebars, and even the entire frame. Although I am not certain how safe building a frame from chain link will be, or if it is even legal in some states.
Motorcycle Chain Coasters by Wonderland Welding...
Bobbie Parsons new business is called Wonderland Welding and she has some great ideas. This one is a motorcycle chain coaster.
Step 1: She traced circles on 18ga steel, and used a plasma cutter to cut them out.
Step 3: She then ground the pin out of the motorcycle chain with an air 90.
Step 4: After that she formed the chain around the circles and tig welded the chain together.
Step 5: Cleaned with wire wheel, finished with clear Rust-olium.
Motorcycle Chain Art:
Since we are discussing welded chain link for art ideas and parts, we should also mention the motorcycle chain because it is also very cool. Pictured Here is a sculpture made from old tools and motorcycle chain. Motorcycle chain sculpture image source.
Motorcycle Chain Bowl:
Here is another neat little bowl made from motorcycle chain. Motorcycle Chain Bowl Image Source
Motorcycle Chain Scorpion:
This scorpion looks very cool and shows you that what you can do with chain is limitless. Scorpion Motorcycle Chain
What Metal Art Do You Want To Make?
Custom Choppers G (author) on January 30, 2014:
@SusanDeppner: Thanks Susan!
Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on January 29, 2014:
Wow, some very cool projects here!