My interests in metalworking range from building high-end modern stainless steel sculptures with highly polished painted finishes to rusty outdoor rustic pieces. I have always been a one man operation. Recently I took some time to research plasma cnc cutting and ended up designing and building my own plasma cnc from scratch that I now use to cut these pieces. The whole process took about 4 months, working when I had time, and has been very rewarding and educational.
With everything I do, I am constantly trying to improve and am always learning new techniques. Every piece I make is built with the highest quality materials and I spend the time to make them as nice as humanly possible. I can definitely be considered a perfectionist.
When I am not working with metal I enjoy working on classic cars, mountain biking, woodworking, trail running, and collecting/restoring vintage tools and equipment.
Richard Walker - artist
All of the ornaments you see here were hand drawn. When I was making outdoor memorials I used to draw the designs onto particle board and cut out the shapes to use as a template. I would then clamp the wood template to the steel and carefully guide the torch around the template to cut the designs out of the metal. You can cut larger pieces using this method, but there is no way to cut small detailed ornaments this way so I had to figure out how to build a plasma cnc. My original designs only existed as wood templates so I figured out how to digitize them and create a file that the cnc could use to cut them into ornaments.
This is one of the first variations of the cnc. It is always a work in progress. If you are not familiar how they work, here is a little info. You start with a silhouette shape on the computer and then use programs to create coordinates. Those coordinates are part of a file that gives instruction on where and how fast to move. The machine moves forward, back, left, right, and the torch is in the center. It can move up and down as well. If you can tell the machine where to move, it can carry the torch along any design you tell it to and it will cut the shape out of steel. You can see a couple ornaments cut out of the steel.
This is the torch and the torch mount. There are 4 motors that have to move in a choreographed motion to cut out a shape.
This is the electronics enclosure for the cnc. The components in this picture power and move the motors which move the torch. In the top pic you'll see that there is another computer with monitor on the cnc as well. That computer sends the commands through the components in the picture above which move the motors. The third computer, not pictured, is a laptop where all the programming is done.
How it all started, with a truckload of 12 foot long steel tube. A few months later I had a working cnc machine.
After building the frame I needed to run the wires. I had the electronics mounted on a board below for testing and easy access. It is not easy to change or add wires since so many things are soldered together so I made sure it worked before cleaning up everything. I was comfortable with the fabrication part, but the big concern was the electronics. It took a lot of research and trial and error to get it to function properly. The good thing about building something yourself without using a kit or any plans is you truly understand how it works and in the future you're able to modify it and upgrade it however you like. There is no tech support though lol.