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Creating Metal Textures with Grinders

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Using Metal Grinders to Create Textures

By Gerald Taylor

Creating metal textures with grinders - unique crosshatch pattern.

Metal textures using grinders makes the furniture I create stand out for its unique blend of functionality and art. In my spare time I make furniture of steel, wood, stone and other repurposed materials. Much of the work involves creating metal textures and employing different textures in other materials, including textures of brushed steel, scratched metal and rusted metal. What I’ve run into is this: It’s so easy to invest too much time and labor into a piece that doesn’t make a decent profit. You’re competing with imports and the mind of the general consumer who may not understand quality materials, craftsmanship, quality welds or other attributes of furnishings or other items with metal textures. But I’ve started trying to give my metal table frames a little extra pop by creating standout metal textures using a grinder. Again, these metal textures must be easy and quick. I’ve included one of my own metal surface treatments here to show the end result.

Creating metal textures with grinders on dark metal.

Metal textures created with grinders applied to a coffee table

Creating metal textures with grinders - coffee table example.What I’ve shown is a granite coffee table I made using 1.5″ square tubing. But notice what I did creating metal textures on the surface of the square tubing – I simply painted the metal flat black after treating the surface using a low speed a Bosch AG50- VSPD 5″ variable speed grinder fitted with a general purpose disk. I set the grinder at its lowest speed and fed the grinder at a 45-degree angle. I just bumped it across the surface to create a cross-hatch pattern. Then I used a clear sealer to keep the hatch marks from rusting. metal-textures-with-grinder-pic3

Grinder practice is the key to great metal textures

I often practice with metal textures on scrap material prior to getting the feed angle and speed right. This helps in creating unusual metal textures, like the cross hatch pattern, that are more uniform. Later I will make a stencil and sand blast a corporate logo or other images.

Click here to watch Video of how Gerals creates his unique metal textures with grinders.

Sometimes I use metal that’s very rough and rusty. In those cases I just do a light grinder treatment on the loose areas of rust and then seal the surface.

Click to watch more video on how Gerald Taylor creates unique metal textures with grinders.

Metal textures on coffee table - detail of cap.Other times when I’m creating metal textures, I’ll keep a few defects and will blend in metal texturing to have a uniform surface. If the metal is perfectly smooth I will incorporate metal texturing to break up a boring surface, which is typically a painted smooth surface. Sometimes I will take a variety of disk cutoff blades and see if I can use them in creating metal textures that are different.

Additional Metal Textures Tactics

I also use other polishing techniques.  In the video below I use my drill press and 3M Scotch Brite pads to create different designs.

Here’s how this technique turned out.

The finished product using my drill press to produce the metal textures on this piece of metal.     The finished product using my drill press to produce the metal textures on this piece of metal.

Feel free to share your techniques or ideas – sometimes accidents are the greatest teachers.

11 comments on “Creating Metal Textures with Grinders

  1. Paul

    Good article Gerald. I am interested in making some furniture from square pipe as well, in the future (once I learn to weld!) and this is something that could add an additional point of interest! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Bailey

    Very cool article! I hadn’t thought of using a grinder as a tool for resurfacing. I will definitely try that the next time I work with metal. I also like using the drill press and some Scotch Brite as a technique. Great job!

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