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Scroll-work plant stand

Intro

It started with a slightly panicked realization that I had once again put off getting anything for my wife for her birthday until nearly the last minute. She has never forgotten my birthday or any other excuse to give a gift, so letting it slide was simply not an option. Fortunately, she is not hard to please, being thrilled and appreciative of even the most inept attempt to create something, useful or not. Also fortunately, she never has enough plant hangers, stands and shelves.

Design

Use

People who are crazy about plants like to move them around. I'm not sure why, since I've never met a plant with wheels or legs with which to move itself. Nonetheless, potted plants get shuffled from indoors to outdoors and back, hung from trees or substitutes for trees, and from shelf to shelf. If you ask, you're likely to be told the plant wasn't happy where it was. That will be the answer from the plant-shuffler, by the way, not from the plant.

Form

To keep the plant-shuffler happy, I decided to make a plant stand that would be happy on flat or uneven surfaces. A tripod is good for this (think of an old milking stool or a camera tripod).

Material

My wife likes wrought iron scroll-work, but I didn't have any wrought iron laying around. I did have a pile of 3/8 inch diameter 'rebar' intended to be electric fence posts, however. This springy steel rod can be bent fairly easily, supports considerable weight and lasts a very long time even with no painting.

Bending Jig

A jig was needed to make sure each scroll was uniform. A spiral can be drawn by tying a loop in a string, wrapping the string around a cylinder, placing a pencil through the loop, then holding the string taut as you trace around the cylinder. The unwinding string will guide the pencil in a nice, uniform spiral.

Trial and error led me to use a chalkline wrapped around a short piece of 3/4 inch (nominal) steel pipe to produce the spiral I wanted. After getting the shape I wanted, I repeated the procedure on a piece of 3/4 inch plywood, left over from another project. A scroller saw was used to cut along this line.

spiral jig, first cut

A compass was used to draw a line parallel to the first cut, with 3/8 inch space between. This line was also sawn.

spiral jig, second cut

The scrap, which was everything not part of the spiral, was cut off. The spiral was screwed to another piece of 3/4 inch plywood, marked and sawed from the center straight out to the edge (along a radial line from the center of the spiral). Making it a two-piece jig saved me from having to pre-bend the start of the spiral on another jig, while still allowing a 1-1/2 turn spiral. The center of the spiral takes a beating as that is where the bending starts. Note the screws to the right of the end of the rod in the photo. These keep the end of the rod from doing too much damage to the plywood.

spiral jig, final

The spiral bending jig was screwed to a couple of 12 ft. 2x6 boards before starting to bend the rods. The springy nature of those rods made it dangerous enough even without having to fight to keep the jig still. Don't underestimate the springback power.

The Stand

I didn't take any photos of the individual spiral parts, nor any photos during assembly. Welding two spirals into an "S" was not difficult. Getting 3 such S'es to stand together in an equilateral triangle took a lot of trial and error involving tying them at various points with wire. Getting 3 circles to come together would be simple; spirals don't cooperate so well. I bent and welded a ring for the top and bottom of the stand, then made 'outriggers' to stabilize it from 3 smaller S'es. In the first photo, I've tried to highlight one of the S'es, but I'm not a graphics artist and can't figure out all the fancy Bezier curve things in Gimp.

plant stand, 0 plant stand, 1 plant stand, 2 plant stand, 3

The whole thing was painted with gloss black enamel.

plant stand, 4 plant stand, 5

Modifications

Of course, there had to be modifications. A couple of rings were added to hold different sized pots. One nice thing about these mods is that theory matched reality. I drew a triangle with sides equal to the distance between the ends of those S'es, drew a circle to fit the triangle, then calculated the length of rod needed for that circumference and the darned thing fit. The following photo shows the two rings, each with a slight notch ground into it where it will be welded to the S'es.

rings

A top-down view of the stand with the rings welded in place.

The plant stand with a little test.

plant stand with plants

Disclaimer

Building this required the use of dangerous tools and hazardous materials. You can easily maim or kill yourself or others with these tools and materials. This page is presented for informational purposes only. The author assumes no liability if you attempt to use anything presented here for any purpose whatsoever. You assume all risk, even for just looking at this.


Copyright 2006 Terry Vessels. Commercial use expressly forbidden without prior written permission.