Lord of the Rings themed planter art

Tree of Gondor Hanging Planter

By on July 9, 2015 in CNC Plasma Cutting

Every piece of art starts with some type of inspiration. Whether it be something from nature, another artist’s work, or even thematic pieces, we draw ideas from all around us. And sometimes things are made very easy when a client wants something as specific as the image above!

The Lord of the Rings imagery is very unique and we were excited to do this piece – a hanging planter box featuring The Tree of Gondor. We cut it with our CNC plasma table from 16 gauge steel, then tig welded a trough on the bottom to hold plants, and finished the metal by sand blasting it before being doused in several applications of Sculpt Nouveau Black Magic patina. Lastly, a piece of opaque white acrylic was laid behind the cutout to finish the piece and make the image really pop. The final element that completed the vibe was the plants, because nothing says Lord of the Rings like some moss and vines! There is a sub layer in the trough to create drainage for the plants too, but the planter is sealed on the bottom so it won’t leak on our customer’s floor.

We love using patinas on pieces because there is so much that can be achieved. For this piece in particular, an old weathered and streaky finish was desirable, so we simply poured the patina over, let it sit and then used a sponge the create soaking wet lines to run down the surface. Then we applied around 4 coats of matte clear coat to seal in the finish and prevent discoloration and rusting. Being able to take a new-looking piece of steel and turn it into something with a genuine antique, rustic look is always great. Adding that extra touch can take a piece of art from looking generic and rather flat, to deep with texture and character.

The outcome of this project was a complete success. Our customer was absolutely ecstatic, and that’s exactly what we look to make happen each time we deliver work. And this functional piece of art will only get better with time as the plants grow and the vines creep around the sides and up the panel, truly enhancing the Lord of the Rings vibe!


Custom Design Panel

Privacy Screens & Decorative Panels

By on June 29, 2015 in CNC Plasma Cutting

Whether you live in an apartment, a house or have a business, privacy screens add a great decorative and functional element to your space. The size, shape, and thickness of your screen/divider will be determined by what effect you are trying to achieve, and the possibilities are virtually endless.


Depending on the size of your apartment there may be several different ways to implement a privacy screen. Often times in apartment buildings people run into the issue of pillars and walls that cannot be removed for structural reasons, and frequently they create awkward spaces and obstruct the view and flow of rooms. Decorative panels are a great way to take these intrusive structures and turn them into pieces of art. A load-bearing wall can be turned into something resembling a beautiful wood grain, or be broken up by geometrical shapes.

Another great item for apartments are folding privacy screens. While many units have nice balconies, there is often a lack of privacy. With decorative screens it is easy to secure your space and get some separation from your neighbours. They can either be folding (2,3,4 panels depending on the space) or freestanding large panels. They can also act as a great place to create a living wall, with plenty of opportunities to hang pots and baskets.


For people with larger homes, one great way these panels can be used is to create new spaces within larger rooms. Keep an open layout in your home with a decorative screen that gives separation while still allowing your space to feel open. Give a unique distinction between your living room and a personal study area while still keeping the house connected. There’s no need to build new walls and create a claustrophobic feel when there are beautiful, stylish alternatives.

Outside in your garden is another great area for CNC plasma cut panels. Give yourself some privacy from neighbours in an area where there’s no hedge, or place panels in amongst your garden as art pieces, letting vines grow up them to create a rustic natural feel. Or simply place a tall panel on the edge of a patio rather than just another railing, and watch as the sun goes by, casting interesting shadows around your yard.


Clients are making assumptions about your business before they even talk to you or your staff. Make a strong first impression with a tall entrance piece, and even incorporate a signature mark or style of your business within the screen. And again, shadows can do wonders to create a more dynamic feel. With the help of some direct lighting against your decorative screen, the shapes will cascade along the floor or adjacent walls beautifully.

And if you are concerned about break-ins as the rest of us are, a great alternative to mundane, ugly security bars is to install an aesthetically pleasing art piece. Panels can be plasma cut from thicker steel plate to give added strength to delicate designs. With endless options to set your business apart, there is simply no reason to opt for boring!

Industrial machinery hard at work

AR Steel

By on April 26, 2015 in Technical Information

What Is AR Steel Anyway?

Abrasion resistant steel (AR), also known as wear plate, and sometimes just hardened steel, is a special type of steel designed for heavy friction environments. It is utilized by many industries where the lifespan of parts would be drastically shortened if not for its special design.

Below are some items that rely upon abrasion resistant steel, and how they benefit from it:

  • Packer blades in garbage trucks – protects against constant scraping and grinding
  • Large disposal containers – resistance to denting and gouging
  • Shredders – high toughness decreases cracking and wear
  • Excavator buckets – maintaining strength on blade edge and/or side integrity
  • Bulldozer – protects the bucket blade from chipping, denting and thinning
  • Dump trucks – allows for lighter construction weight with added strength and wear resistance
  • Rail road cars – durability and strength to withstand constant use

With just a few examples, it is clear to see just how useful abrasion resistant steel is to many industries. But how does it work exactly, and what is it that allows steel to become hardened?

Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon, where carbon acts as a hardening agent (there are also a host of other materials that can be added to the iron/carbon mixture which help to produce steel with certain desired properties). Carbon content, though, is what we often refer to when talking about the hardness of steel. In its simplest form, hardening steel can be achieved by quenching. Quenching involves heating steel to the austenite phase (the temperature at which the steel changes crystal structure from ferrite to austenite – ferrite being the most stable form of pure iron at room temperature which can dissolve only a small amount of carbon, and austenite being the same the same iron, only at 910 °C where it can dissolve 38 times the amount of carbon) and then submerging it in either cold water or oil. The rapid cooling yields a hard, but very brittle material. This is not ideal as it is very susceptible to fractures and breaking. To fix this problem the steel is tempered – a special type of annealing – which simply put is just heating the steel to an adequate temperature to soften it, and allowing it to cool gradually. The point is not to undo the hardening process, but to facilitate recovery, recrystallization and grain growth, which yield a more ductile, fracture-resistant steel.

Steel production has come a long way since its beginning roughly 4,000 years ago. Different companies have put an incredible amount of time, energy and expertise into developing hardened steels; some use only surface hardening which leaves the centre of the steel not as hard as the outside, where others like Hardox brand have developed methods to harden their steel the entire way through, producing superior results that can even withstand rifle rounds. The applications for AR steel are widespread, and with continued research and development the ways in which we use it will only increase. This is a great thing, because materials that work harder and last longer are what allow us to get jobs done.


CNC Plasma Cutting

Why CNC Plasma Cutting?

By on April 23, 2015 in CNC Plasma Cutting

A Brief History of Plasma

Plasma cutting has proven its worth as an effective, reliable cutting method since its development in the 1960s, and has continued to be used for the mass production of parts. Its efficiency was greatly maximized by the introduction of CNC (computer numerical control) in the late 1980s to early 1990s. This gave operators the ability to create a computer program that told the machines exactly what to do over both X and Y axes. Over the years progress in technology has allowed for the introduction of a third axis to create bevels, to cut around things such as pipe, and for concave/convex shapes. This drastically increased the scope of CNC cutting and has really put it on the map.

Why Do We Keep Using Plasma Despite the Competition?

There is water jet and laser cutting which both produce amazing cuts; so why do we keep coming back to plasma? The simple answer is because it’s more affordable while still producing great results. Plasma cutting is hands down the most affordable, accurate cutting method out there.

There are many industries that rely heavily upon plasma cutting. Tractors, loaders, excavators, floor and ceiling trusses and anything needing a bracket or gusset are more often than not made with the help of plasma. Using a handheld torch also comes in very handy when parts need to be cut off and replaced, and in any situation where getting the piece on an automated cutting table doesn’t work. Plasma then becomes twice as useful – firstly for part extraction, and secondly in the production of the replacement part.

Plasma isn’t the only contender though, of course. Water jet and laser cutting hold their share of the marketplace. Where plasma can suffer from distortion of holes and mild bevels, water jet breezes by. And where plasma lacks the ability to achieve incredibly fine details with extreme accuracy, laser prevails. These are no small requirements when a job calls for them. Some projects may need laser, some water jet, and some may use a combination of the three cutting methods. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses. We must note here though that advances in plasma technology are putting it right up with water jet and laser for both cut squareness and hole accuracy. Hi Def plasma cutting has revolutionized the way we think about plasma cutting capabilities, and it’s exciting to think about where it will lead us.

What Can CNC Plasma Cutting Do For Me?

The way plasma cutting is utilized can vary greatly, and it can open up the doors to a lot of different work. It can be used for industrial parts or home decor. It can make you excavator parts or a beautiful design on a steel coffee table. The options of what can be done are literally endless, especially when pairing CNC cutting with general fabrication. An intricate drawing of an owl (like the one seen on our for sale page) can become something to have framed and hung on the wall, to a side table with weathered wood, to a light box or to a stylishly rusted feature standing in the garden. A favorite quote can be turned into physical letters and words to hang in the home. Larger, more visible and interesting numbers can be cut for the address sign on a house. All types of parts for many industries can be cut, bent, rolled and welded for the perfect fit. The more research one does on CNC plasma cutting, the more apparent it will become just how diverse the range of products is it can produce.