Home-made Sinusoidal Stakes

Q: I’ve been fascinated by the shapes I’ve seen made in sheet metal using a “sinusoidal” stake, which has an undulating profile. Is it possible to make my own, or do I have to buy one?

A: At auto supply shops, Sears, or similar places that sell various tools, you can find “drift punches”. These things amount to various sizes of tapered steel rods. Not only do they make inexpensive bezel mandrels, but if you’ve got a good-sized torch—a welding torch or larger soldering torch, not your micro-sized jewelry torch you can make your own sinusoidal stake fairly easily from one of these. Simply heat it at appropriate intervals, bending it, then moving over a bit, bending it again in the other direction, etc, until you’ve got your desired stake shape. Then get to work sanding/finishing off the oxidation from bending, and you’ve got it. It’s not hard to do, but takes some time and equipment, which is why the commercially—made ones cost some money.

For the various styles of plastic ones, just get some scrap Delrin (acetal), and start sawing and carving.

by Peter W. Rowe M.F.A., G.G.