Almost everyone has a mental image of Stainless Steel as smooth and almost reflectively shiny. However, it does not start life that way. There are many potential paths to shiny, and this week was dedicated to mapping it out for When The Earth Moves. To get the finishes we want, (they will be different for the gears and the fixtures ), and there will be a variety of steps from acid treatments, disc grinding, die grinding and orbital sanders. The sanding will range from 80 grit to 120.
Why so much work? Besides the fact that the steel comes in fairly “crusty”, the water jet leaves marks as it cuts as well. This is a gear tooth as it comes from the cutter. Note all of the horizontal gauging and scratches in the steel from the cuts. This is not at all the look and feel of the gear that we want, so the surface has to be finished to get the right effect.
You can see the difference when you look at another tooth on the same gear, after acid, disc grinding and lots of sanding at various grits- this is the shiny smooth finish that is the goal. At about 20 minutes ( for the edges, not the faces) per tooth, and 94 teeth in the statue, plus faces, spokes and cutouts, you can understand why we often say that Art is a Labor of Love.