Using Metal Grinders to Create Textures
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.
Metal textures created with grinders applied to a coffee table
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.
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.
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.
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.
Feel free to share your techniques or ideas – sometimes accidents are the greatest teachers.