What to Ask For?

Hello All – I hope this is a simple question, but even if it is not,
I’m sure there will be a number of good answers!! I am interested in
producing a number of round boxes in sizes ranging from about 1.5" to
8" in diameter and want to find something to use as a form. My
thought was to purchase steel rods in different sizes, but where and
what to call them?? I’ve gone through my Grainger’s catalogue,
(thumbing it as much as possible – ha!), and looking in the
directory under things like ‘Rods’ and ‘Mandrels’ , but can’t seem
to find anything that would fit my use.

Am I asking for the right thing? Or does this really not exist in
any ready-manufactured fashion? What do all you box-makers use –
those of you who have gone past the find anything in about the right
size you have around the studio-- like the flashlight or the
ground-pipe that was pulled out of the yard two years ago. . .()

Thank you all –
Stone House Studio

Laura, As a steel form or mandrel, I would suggest looking for
machined pipe couplings . These are available in sizes to 6" or
perhaps 8" they are well machined and are available in schedule 40,
80, 120 ( pressure ratings) so as to offer a selection of diameters.

There are also cut off sections of pipe available at pipe
fabricating & pipe welding shops. These sections of pipe are strong
and uniform . They can be sanded and polished to present a smooth
surface. A more accurate way to measure the diameter of a round
object is to measure the circumference . This is Diameter times 3.14

A good place to find what diameters are available is to go to the
library and check out a book on pipe welding and or fitting. There
are references in the back of the books .

Wear blue jeans , good shoes, carry a tape measure and get on good
terms with the guys . These guys work with steel as a potter works
with clay. You might find odd items which will make new and
innovative tools . Ask to look in the "bone yard"or scrap pile.

ROBB - Retired Old Baby Boomer

Hi Laura; I’ve made a few round boxes; cylindrical canisters with
lids, that is. It was a project in a class I taught. I had several
sizes of new casting flasks and used those to form over and for
trueing them up after soldering the seam. A large bench vise will
hold them, but you can also wedge them on to a piece of wood that’s
been tapered with a rasp and bolted to a bench or stump. PVC pipe
works good too, and it comes in several diameters. Also, go to the
local muffler shop and ask if they have any cut-offs of tail-pipe.
Those also make pretty fair casting flasks, and they’ll usually let
you have them cheap, if not free. They won’t last very long, a
couple dozen trips through the burn-out and they start flaking away,
but by then you’ll have saved your pennies for the real thing, eh? I
have another idea. Why not see if there’s a local wood-worker who
can turn you out a big stepped mandrel from a piece of maple? Good

David L. Huffman
David L. Huffman Studios, Inc. in Central NY where we’re up to our
in the white stuff.