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SKILL LEVEL: Beginner
COMMITMENT: 2–3 hours
Here's what you'll need to get started.
Materials used in this specific build, but also can be substituted to what you have around your shop.
READ AND FOLLOW ALL LABELS AND
THE OWNER'S MANUAL.
First, create the frame to build your wreath. I chose 1" tubing and 17" diameter because that was the right size to make eight Top Fuel pistons fit with spare room to add the other pieces. With the roller, I needed extra length on each end so I grabbed a 5' stick. I rolled a tight circle so I would have to cut my circle into 1/4-sized pieces to get my circle back to flat and get it to that perfect 17" diameter. Do whatever is best suited for you.
Next, get the circular frame tacked up on both sides and fully welded. Remember to drill a small vent hole, as this circle is fully enclosed and you will continue to weld on it, so you want to avoid the pressure from it blowing out on you later.
Now it's time for the decorative pieces — I chose the pistons. Because aluminum can’t be welded to steel, we need to use bolts welded to the frame. Drill two holes in each piston in a place where you can access them to put nuts on them. Drilling into the bottom of the piston where the wrist pin rest works well, using two large holes on each side. I chose 1/4" -28 1/2" long bolts, so I drilled holes 17/64" — the next size up from bolt size. I use a larger hole than needed because after all the welding without a proper fixture, bolts move around a bit. This can save you some frustration.
Now mount the pistons to the frame. Space them out correctly and place the bolts with nuts on them. These aren’t holding the piston on, but rather they are holding the piston up from the frame to locate the bolts on the frame to have clearance to tack them in place. Tack the opposite side of the bolt, weld it and then repeat these steps seven more times for each bolt. Take the nuts off the bolts and tighten the pistons. This is important to help with the placement of the remaining parts.
Time to fill the voids between the pistons with valves, which will start to give it that unique snowflake look. I cut 1.5" off each valve stem to keep them from being taller than the pistons. Use a cut-off wheel for this since the valves are stainless steel and will wreck any bandsaw blade. Once the valves are cut, place them at a 45-degree angle and tack them in place on both sides before fully welding all of them.
These next few steps are going to test your free spirit, as we will just “eyeball it.” I put two spark plugs (electrode toward the frame) because it will leave the green-colored labeled end out to be shown. I put one plug on the inside of the frame centered on each pair of pistons. Then I put two spark plugs on the outside of the frame on both sides of each exhaust valve all the way around. I love to fill all visual voids with something. But there are no rules, so do what you want!
Now, back to the inside of the frame with the smaller inner valve springs and wrenches. If we did our job placing the pistons you should have room to add one spring and half of the opened wrench between each piston. This breaks up the look and fills it with items going in different directions. Remember later you will weld the other side when you flip it over.
The next important step is hanging the fixture. Measure where you want the wreath to hang on your door and consider the wreath’s weight as well. The strap must be robust but still look good. I chose to create it on the plasma table out of 1/8" mild steel, 1.250" wide with hex holes to break up the look of a strap. I also wanted it to be bolted to the wreath. Then I measured the door thickness to make sure it would slide over the top nicely.
The last step depends on where you are hanging the wreath. If your door is glass, you will need to add padding on the back or weld nuts on the back and cover them with rubber thread bump stops to provide a soft spot. For any other type of door, three pieces of Velcro will help keep it from wearing away the paint on your wood or steel door.
Feeling inspired? Check out our project page for DIY welding projects, including step-by-step guidance, videos and downloadable plans.
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