first project with welding...

Hey everyone,

I’ve only just discovered that design is what I want to do with my life. I haven’t gone to design school but am seriously considering it. You have all been such an inspiration, I can’t thank you enough.

Without going on too much about myself, let me talk about this project. I’ve just picked up welding and after practicing for a day or two I decided to come up with something real that I could try to make. I only had scrap aluminum to work with, so I had to keep it small.

This picture is a compilation of sketches from my book and final pictures.

Enjoy! Also, any comments are greatly appreciated. This is pretty much my first fully documented project.

I’m so excited about pursuing design! Thanks again for inspiring me.


Nice start chedder, nice start.

As for future suggestions, the width of the aluminum bar you used is equal throughout the table. There will be a greater visual impact if you vary the width. This can been seen in your sketches where the “outside” legs are tapered toward the top of the table. It would have been nice to see the same treatment on the actual table.

Consider the relationship between the metal and the wood. Right now it looks like the wood was somewhat of an after-thought and you quickly stuck on a convenient, rectangular shape. The legs on the other-hand are dynamic and I would like to see the same care given those to the top.

Also, be mindful of your proportions. The wide width of the aluminum and overall squatness of the table make it a bit clunky. Your drawings go a different route and have the table more airy and light. I understand those may not be realistic for strength considerations, but the actual table is heavy-handed. On the other hand, if your intent was for a look of strength and stability, I would consider thickening the wood top, changing its edge treatment and possibly its shape.

Keep up the good work and good luck pursueing your passion.

Now that’s some great feedback, thanks!

I pretty much agree with all of your comments. The wood was not given a fraction of the attention that the aluminum was.The thickness of the wood was deliberate, though. It’s the same thickness and material as the desk it rests on.

Regardless, the next project I work on I’ll be more mindful of my tendency to be disproportionately enthusiastic about the design of a specific part over another. Gotta keep my head on the big picture.

I wasn’t too pleased with the width of the aluminum, either. It loses a slick quality that the original design had. I think I could have gotten away with a little bit thinner…but to get the strength with the form from the drawing, I would probably need to get my hands on some steel.

I abandoned the tapering mostly because I only had a lunch break to work on it and rushed to get it finished. Overall, I think it’s pretty clear that neglecting a few details can completely change the feel of a design.

Definitely some good lessons learned here. It’s nice hearing an outside perspective that resonates with some of the feelings I was having about how it turned out.

Thanks for the feedback! I won’t revisit this project but I’ll definitely keep these considerations in mind for my next project.


I’m very impressed. We get a lot of “I want to be a designer” posts. this is refreshing… Mark, you are a designer. You designed this. I’m sure with practice, diligence, and education you will go far.

As to the design itself, I find the use of the aluminum intriguing the way you are using the aluminum in flat and edge orientations. How does it take weight, do the front legs flex, or is the stock thick enough to prevent this?

what is your current job/profession? Did I miss that?

First of all, thanks so much for the kind words and encouragement. When I found out about design, everything sort of fell into place and started to click. Suddenly, my seemingly random interests shared a common thread.

Okay, so quick bio: I studied biological sciences (the way nature “designs” things is amazing, incredible, humbling) and explored engineering classes (I LOVED design projects and CAD) but when I graduated last summer I didn’t want to go to medical school or be a lab tech. I’d rather build things! Medical devices, engineering grad school… I had so many options but none clicked.

I looked for a job and eventually stumbled on Design Communications ( It’s esentially an engineering fabrication place in south Boston. They have really talented fabricators and have been responsible for all of the TD Garden signs (including that really cool new one with the glowing glass behind it). Unfortunately, they don’t “design” the signs themselves. Design firms contract DCL to build and install the structures.

So that’s where I work, bottom of the ladder at a pretty cool fabrication shop. It’s been a great learning experience for me. I have access to what is essentially a studio with some really talented and knowledgable fabricators around.

On my own time I’ve been sketching, learning what I can about design, freelance building a display for a skateshop (I’ll upload later on) , rebuilding mopeds, and living in Cambridge.

I’m constantly excited about design and I feel so lucky that I’ve discovered my passion so young (I’m 23). Hopefully I’ll find a design group that is willing to hire a designer without a degree in design… I’ll be designing things either way, though.

As for the project posted above, I’m glad you like the way the flat and edge orientations come together to support the structure…I think it’s pretty neat, too. The aluminum is about a 1/4" thick and a lot of the structures strength is due to that thickness. it can bend if I use my brute man strength on it, though. However…much of the structure’s strength comes from the way the two leg parts are welded together. I was pretty surprised at how sturdy it became after I welded an individual leg together.

I really appreciate your interest and comments…it’s probably the single most encouraging thing that anyone has said to me since ive started my design career, so thanks again.


Mark, since you are in the area, you should start following along with this:

The two founders, Sam (from Bose) and Derek (from Philips) also teach at WIT, you might be able to audit a few classes? I usually do a sketch demo down there every few months, so I’ll keep you in the loop.

I like your work as well Mark. Hands-on experience has a lot to say for it; processes, equipment, learning the limitations, and strengths, of materials, etc. Solid sketches too; you will find that the more you actually see things, the easier the details will be to draw.

I only had scrap aluminum to work with, so I had to keep it small.

I’d hazard a guess and say that you didn’t even need the flat-bar stretcher (the piece that ties to two sides together). The strength of the laminated wooden top would have done that (and reduced your material consumed). The combination of aluminum and wood… I like it; it warms up the piece significantly.

Perhaps when your heliarc skill have progressed*, and your ability to lay a consistent stack-of–dimes has developed, this piece might wear a glass top and allow the now hidden elements of the aluminum structure to be revealed.

Just observations cheddar… great first project.

  • As a full time fabricator I’m guessing that this will be well before the end of the summer.

Great project. I love limiting myself by using scrap. I find it makes the process more challenging. I think your end product looks great too. I like how you used so many different angles in the alu supports. It’s very contemporary.

Ahh, the elusive stack of dimes… I could never get a good consistent stack. Little know fact, I interned for 2 summers at pretty massive model shop / fabrication company.