Follow Us:

Browse Flowering Elbow

Latest Blog Entries

Outside FE

FE on Facebook

Which scrap aluminium to use for casting?

Posted: January 14th, 2017, by Bongo

Simple answer: whichever you have already or can get for free! With a few caveats:

The kind of scrap you use will affect the properties of your casting. Fluidity when molten and machineability when solid are two that don’t get thought of as often as strength, but can be just as important. Lets take this little lost foam casting (below) as an example.

Lost foam castings

This lost foam casting is one of a pair, that will form wonderfully unusual coffee table feet. Note how the Aluminium has flowed into the cells of the foam and taken its surface appearance. The central square is where the sprue has been cut off with a hacksaw.

Don’t waste lots of time collecting aluminium beer and soda cans – they can work (forgive the pun) but there is a fairly strong consensus among …Continue reading »

Lost Foam Vs Green Sand Casting

Posted: January 6th, 2017, by Bongo

It has been a while since I first melted bits of scrap aluminium and cast them into a shape. I have had some triumphs in my DIY experiments, but also plenty of learning experiences (read fails), so I wanted to share some of the lessons. The two main methods I have tried, are “Lost  Foam” and “Green Sand” casting, and I should say upfront I’m a convert to “lost foam”.  Lets talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The DIY Propane furnace melting some scrap aluminium.

The DIY Propane furnace, lid off, melting some scrap aluminium.

Both methods involve heating up scrap aluminium in a DIY furnace until it melts, which is roughly 660oC,  1220oF. My furnace is made from an old steel …Continue reading »

The Warlock’s Bed

Posted: July 13th, 2015, by Bongo

There are a few things that I haven’t had time to blog about lately (but check out the photos on the facebook page). Here’s one: The Warlock’s Bed. I don’t quite know what genre this fits into – its not really rustic – as it has some fine joinery and involved plenty of careful, precise work, but it certainly isn’t a traditional style furniture piece either. The new owners said it was like a warlock’s bed, so I’ll go with that.

oak bed

A little whirlwind tour of the build process in photos: …Continue reading »

Making a Large 20″ Disc Sander

Posted: April 6th, 2015, by Bongo

Here’s a tool we built that’s been on the to-do list for ages. It all started when we found a discarded floor scrubber/polisher in a skip. It was soaking wet and needed a good dry out, but after that I tested it… and it worked great! Since then the motor has sat in the corner for years waiting to be ‘disk sanderified’. During that time every project I have worked on has ‘required’ a disc sander, and we haven’t had one. Oh the woe.

No more! We have made a disk sander, and published a complete build log on Instructables.

Large Home Made Disc Sander

As far as shop built disc sanders go this one is BIG. It has a 20” disk, which was the largest size of abrasive I could easily get hold of for a sensible price. This makes it more versatile, but also means it needs to be …Continue reading »

DIY Chisel Tip protectors

Posted: September 29th, 2014, by Bongo

There are a few special travelling chisels that don’t stay safe in their case at the workshop, but are stashed in my ‘tool box’ (which is actually an 18v drill case) and come with me everywhere I go. Tired of them banging about against other tools and acquiring small dinks in their finely honed cutting edges, I decided to make some tip protectors for them.

Plastidip and sugru chisel protectors

There is an established method using plastidip (see this Popular Woodworking 2011 article by Christopher Schwarz) and we also thought we would give sugru a try to see how they …Continue reading »

Chainsaw Mill & Upcycled Component Store

Posted: May 20th, 2014, by Bongo

Time for a few updates. Lets start with the chainsaw mill build documentation, which we published as an instructable step-by-step guide. It is quite a comprehensive resource and has plenty of tips and tricks for using and maintaining the mill, as well as the build info. It’s not super ‘flowering elbow’ in style, as it isn’t built mostly from waste materials (though some bits and bobs on it are), but it does mean we have been able to harvest some of the wood here on site, that would have otherwise been firewood… Another bonus is that it won us some prize goodies in a contest Instructables were running – looks like we will be getting a wood burning kit, some bench dogs, wood glue, a Japanese saw, and some other bits n bobs.

Chainsaw Mill

It was also fantastic to receive so much positive feedback in the comments from the instructables ‘community’.

Another of our creations that had cool feedback after it was featured by the Instructables editors some time ago,  was the Upcycled Component Organiser. It’s basically a toolbox made from reclaimed materials, that can be used to sort and store – we use it for electronics components, but really it could be almost anything.

Disk box storage

The storage box folds together, so it can be …Continue reading »

Thoughts on ‘Making is connecting’

Posted: January 22nd, 2014, by Bongo

Cover to cover reading – it’s rarely happening for me on anything but exciting story books. But over the Christmas hols, Sam and I read every page of ‘Making is Connecting’ by David Gauntlett. We had a really lively and stimulating discussion of the freely available extracts as part of a reading group. After that we knew we needed to read more!

Making is connecting book review

I have huge enthusiasm for this book. Why? Much of what Gauntlett had  to say really resonated with what we get up to, and our beliefs about the importance of everyday creativity. For Gauntlett, making even quite simple things, is a political …Continue reading »

Flowering Elbow – budding community

Posted: December 14th, 2013, by Bongo

Last month we held our first open workshop event and signed up our first members – very exciting!


The name Flowering Elbow, when it came to us, partly appealed because

…Continue reading »

Turn a fail into a feature

Posted: October 21st, 2013, by Bongo

We published this step-by-step Instructable a couple of weeks ago, outlining an unusual woodworking technique to splice interesting shaped pieces of contrasting coloured wood. The Instructable editors featured it on their home page and in their newsletter :)  and it’s been getting quite a bit of attention (over 55k views in a week). A bit surprising, given it was an unexpected little diversion in the making of a commission that didn’t originally call for anything like that.

Teak-ash splice

It’s one way to make “cut too short” incidents into an interesting feature and …Continue reading »