Banner
Fabricating

Rogue One

By Mark Koenig

Q&A with a welding Star Wars fan

December 2016 -FFJournal: Where did the idea to create Star Wars ships from metal?

Nick Phlegar: I always had a creative side and, once I started welding, it was inevitable that creativity would come through with metal. I love that you can do anything you want to a piece of metal. Mixed with my love of Star Wars, that just made me curious to see if I could actually recreate some of my favorite ships from the movies using scrap metal. That creative curiosity really came to life when I dove into it. Plus they are just fun to build! 

FFJ: Why Star Wars?

Nick: Why not Star Wars? I have been obsessed with everything Star Wars for over 20 years and I don't see that [obsession] going away any time soon.

SW2.jpg

FFJ: Take us through the design process of the ships.

Nick: I don't draw anything out. I will just look at different pictures and get rough measurements directly from that. Sure, there can be some trial and error at some points but once I get a started, I'll just work around that and things will usually fall into place. There's a lot of eyeballing and guesstimates going on but it works out in the end. 

FFJ: What materials do you work with?

Nick: I get the bulk of my material from my welding job at Detroit Bikes. They are nice enough to let me scrounge through the scrap bin and let me take what I need. That is mostly 4130 thin-wall chromoly tubing in various sizes. I get sheet metal in various gauges from the local metal supply shop and I'll just buy whatever drop-off scrap ends they set aside. For some pieces where I need a sphere shape, I try to build that on my own with small odds and ends I have laying around. It didn't look as good as I wanted so I found hollow steel spheres from an ornamental iron shop. That made life a little easier. Then I just have bins of old nuts, bolts, washers, etc., which come in handy when adding in detail. I save any little thing made of steel because it might be useful at some point.

SW14.jpg

FFJ: Share a little bit about the building process.

Nick: I have pictures of the piece that I'm working on so I know what the end goal should be when I start. I'll get a basic skeleton of the piece usually using 1/4 in. hollow rod. I use a Thermal Arc 201 TS TIG machine with high frequency to start tacking everything together. TIG welding is my favorite because it's so clean and it's easier to use at lower temperatures, which is good because I use mostly thin gauge materials. 

Once I have the basic shape, I cut sheet metal to fill in. I use a cutoff wheel and an angle grinder to create shapes. Sometimes the tubing will need a taper so I  cut slits into the tube and either make it tighter on one end to get it smaller or spread them out and make it bigger, whatever is necessary. 

When it's formed, I dig through my bins of miscellaneous parts and use them to add detail. I usually never paint my pieces; I love the look of raw metal. I like to know and to let others know that it's made out of metal and not some other material hidden under a layer of paint. Sometimes I use a clear coating just to prevent some rust, but rust isn't always a bad thing either. 

FFJ: What was your welding education like?

Nick: I took welding classes in high school through a program at Lansing Community College [LCC]. After that first year, I knew that welding was what I wanted to do [and] that I would never want to sit in an office somewhere in front of a computer. I loved that there are no limitations to what you can build with metal. After two years of welding in high school, I went on to Ferris State University for two years, then returned to Lansing to take every welding class I possibly could at LCC. Since then I have had various welding jobs. I'm glad to now finally have my own space in which to be creative. I do wish I had a light saber to use in the shop—it would make life so much easier! FFJ

Sources

Banner

Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Beckwood Press Co. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters Triform

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc.

LASER TECHNOLOGY

Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

AMADA AMERICA, INC.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. Mazak Optonics Corp. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC MC Machinery Systems Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SigmaTEK Systems LLC

BEVELING

Murata Machinery, USA, Inc. Davi Inc. Striker Systems
Steelmax Tools LLC TRUMPF Inc.

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

COIL PROCESSING

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Bradbury Group MTS Sensors Rolleri USA

STEEL

Burghardt + Schmidt Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

PRESS BRAKES

Alliance Steel
Butech Bliss Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC.

TUBE & PIPE

Red Bud Industries UFP Industrial Automec Inc. BLM Group
Tishken

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

MC Machinery Systems Inc. Prudential Stainless & Alloys

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

Advanced Gauging Technologies SafanDarley

WATERJET

Mayfran International

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

PUNCHING

Barton International

DEBURRING/FINISHING

Cincinnati Inc. Hougen Manufacturing Flow International Corporation
ATI Industrial Automation LVD Strippit

SAWING

Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Lissmac Corp. Scotchman Industries Inc. Behringer Saws Inc.

WELDING

Osborn Trilogy Machinery Inc. DoALL Sawing American Weldquip
SuperMax Tools

METAL FORMING

HE&M Saw Strong Hand Tools
Timesavers FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. Savage Saws T. J. Snow Company

 

MetalForming Inc.

 

 

 

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

 

 

 

Titan Tool Supply Inc.

 

 


BPA_WW_MASTER.jpg