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748 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So why not just make my own arrowhead seat bolt cover?

Oye! Do not attempt this if you are an average Joe like me. It will cost too much and I lost track of the build time weeks ago. That said, I'm sure there are many more gifted among us that could pull it off within a reasonable amount of time and budget.

When I was a younger man (before I started this) I thought I would just grab a hunk of steel and a grinder - hack at it for a bit - and send it off to the chrome shop.

Attempt Zero - Arrowhead in Steel:

If one were to hang in there and had the proper tools - I used a 4" grinder, a Dremmel with various attachments, and an inappropriate attitude - this approach may actually work. You'll realize quickly that it's easy to over work the piece and there's no going can't just add back the metal if you go too far.

But my wife had made some jewelry from Precious Metal Clay (PMC) so I figured that may work.
This stuff is expensive so the material cost probably makes this whole thing unreasonable. It is pure silver after all. And in an ingenious PMC for more info if your interested.

The idea here is that you can make the item out of clay. What could be easier? Just whip out a nice arrowhead out of this stuff and your done.
Again, the talented or experienced fella could take a hunk of this and do just that I'm sure.

But I had some problems:

First, I quickly messed up the new clay I bought. This stuff is relatively easy to work with the first time you touch it but it quickly turns on you. It's a lot like good ole clay out of the package's not the same and I mangled it...50 bucks worth.

This next pic is not something I thought I could use. It's just what I could salvage out of the first run at the PMC. It became unmanageable for me so I just made an arrowhead pancake and took stock of the situation.

I guess I hoped I could somehow shape it after it hardened but that is not possible.

This potato chip should give you a sense of how much material is available - again $50 worth. Obviously, to get any sense of dimension to the piece - without adding more expensive material - I would need to get this in a more concaved form.

All is not lost (yet). One thing you can do with dried PMC is to grind it into a powder and add water to it. Unfortunately when PMC is "reconstituted" like this it goes from difficult to work with to virtually impossible. It will stick to everything ... using some olive oil on your hands and tools helps but man o man there's no way I could just shape this stuff.

So I decided to make a mold and see if I could shove it into that with better results.

Never did this before, but I know you have to make a prototype out of something and then smoosh a mold over it. So I got some modeling clay and made my dream arrowhead out of best as I could...

You can see the "concave/hollow" element to this I hope.

Then I painted it thinking it would help with the mold.

The wife said she has some epoxy mold stuff so I grabbed some, did the binary squish with it, and pressed it all over my creation.

Turns out the mold epoxy had been on the shelf a good long time. I never hardened. I thought I had ruined it.

I'd stopped keeping track (on purpose) of how much time this project was taking. I wont admit to you how long everything took including getting that purple crap off. And the cost is intentionally ignored by now too. There are projects that must be seen though for prides sake. Damn the cost and time. If I stop now all is lost!

So I go get some new mold stuff from the craft know how you buy material or tools to get something done and you just decide that anything that could possible be used later doesn't count? I'm sure we'll need 20 bucks worth of epoxy mold material to address some critical need later. Of course it will go bad way before then...

Viola! molded!

I did a couple test runs of the mold using regular clay (oh yeah the clay wasn't free either) and they turned out pretty good.

I could just post a pic of the molded PMC version and move on but this is where things bogged way down again. The "reconstituted" PMC would not behave. I tried it...let it dry...scrapped it and went at it again. It was a miserable time. Eventually I stole some of my wife's PMC... let's say 25 bucks worth to lay a thin layer into the mold and added the crappy "reconstituted" stuff I had on top if it.

Anyway here's the PMC out of the mold. It was not as clean as the modeling clay versions...not even close. Now more, (much more), time "working" the cast PMC. I finally got it carved into where I liked it - although the center hold never came back to symmetrical. But that would get covered up in the end so I settled.

Oh, Something else to consider is that the final product will shrink (uniformly) by about 10%. So I calculated what the size of the hole should be and got it pretty close in the end.

This pic is before it was completely re-worked I think. I wanted to see how big it was in relation the coin/cover I was going to use.

Now to send it off to some "lady" that would put it in a kiln, and fire it at the perfect temp, for the perfect time - or ruin the whole thing. Wife knows best so while I was out of town she packed it up and sent it to "the lady". This service was only 15 bucks. If anyone is keeping score of the total cost can probably be padded another 10% for bolts and bits. and oh yeah. I had to buy that steel I used in the first fail. ...anyway, when she received it (wonder what postage was....add that too) she said it was broken. Grrr! "but it's no matter" she says, "I can fix it for 5 dollars". It's in "the lady's" hands at this point...I'm all in...

It comes back and it still looks like clay. My wife assures me that it's normal and sure enough once I rattle it around in this tumbling stuff - best described as buck shot in a bunch of weird shapes - it comes out all silver like.

But it's lost its cool concave-ness. Maybe the intense heat caused it to flatten a bit. So I go at it on the bench with pliers and hammers - actually I was very gentle/careful, but yes, cloth-coated pliers and several shots with a ball-peen hammer.

The next pics are in "montage" cause I took so many that I didn't know how to put them in without looking the fool. But I think it may be more confusing like this. Anyway I've already created the pics.

A bit rough and pitted and stuff but I kinda liked that. Keep in mind I wanted it to be sort of natural and a-symmetrical.

Well here's how it came out:

Then I wanted it to have a finish more like the patina'd coin. So Google told me to stick it in a bag with egg yolks overnight and it would turn black. Then I could polish off what I wanted to shine.

But it never turned just got a little tarnished. I ordered some liver-of-sulfur to do the job right (add another $15) but we'll see.

Then I took one of those Indian head coins and hollowed it out as far as I could without breaking through the front face of it. I glued in a really strong little magnet (5 more bucks). Had to really work at it to get that magnet to sit in flush with the coin edge.

Now there's a whole bunch of time and energy devoted to getting the fastener to work out. I ended up using a 8mm crown-bolt/set-screw. And took a nut and basically ground it down to nothing more than a threaded washer. I glued these together and was surprised at how sturdy it turned out.

I couldn't wait for the liver-of-sulfur delivery and so I mounted it and did the "Mounted Montage" pics:

I kinda hate the montage....will post a clean pic later perhaps. In the end I'm happy. I think I'll keep it.

419 Posts
Turned out real nice.
Damn you sure got patience, I would have been throwing crap around and creating new cuss words long before it got done.:rolleyes:

1,029 Posts
Very nice and unique:)

748 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Or you could just buy one for about 15 bucks! View attachment 5026

Native American Belt Buckles
Looks like one of Dave's. They're really great...But it's closer to 50 than 15 bucks. Worth every penny.

But I just had to have something I made from scratch that nobody else would have.

Have no experience with working leather but I may take a run at something hide-based next
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