Has anyone "spun" aluminum?
Does anyone here have knowledge of spinning aluminum; for example, on a lathe?
I scratchbuilt a foam plane, and eventually used the bottom part of a soda can for the cowl. It fits nicely, but still looks like the bottom part of a soda can to the trained eye (say,5 years old and up). I thought if I made a wooden form on my lathe, which would look less like a soda can on the end, attached a can end somehow and went at it with various wooden sticks and other improvised tools, it might work.
I thought I'd ask here first, and maybe save some time and trouble, perhaps a lacerated hand, too. Meanwhile, I'm googling.
I've been tempted to do it, have never gotten around to setting up my lathe after my last move.
It is pretty easy to do, and takes some practice to do well.
Might be easier to do with a flat piece than one with some shape to it already, and soda can might get a bit brittle, you might need to anneal it before or during the forming.
With thin AL, tough part might be getting enough friction that it doesn't spin on the form.
As long as you don't get a tool flung at you or rip your skin on the spinning edge, you're on the right track!
You know I have thought of using a soda can for a cowl many times. With how light weight they are the temptation is going to be there but like you say to a trained eye it still looks like the bottom of a pop can.
I was a machinist for around 15 years and while I am sure you could build some sort of mandrel to hold the bottom of a can suitable for turning I think it might be more work then just building the cowl a different way or modifying the soda can bottom to look less like a can. Could you post a picture or give us some more details of what you are thinking?
Here are some ways I have made cowls. My personal favorite is to find a plastic bottle that is close to the shape you need. Slightly bigger then your soda can and put it over the can of pop I would keep the can full and pressurized. Now using a heat gun shrink the bottle over the soda can and when you get done just cut the neck of the bottle off and you have a pretty good cowl.
Can of soda and a Mountain Dew bottle with the top cut off.
Now take a heat gun and shrink the bottle over the can.
Remove bottle top and cut off neck.
I know its crude but it should show everyone the process. I should have spent more time shrinking and trimming and focasing the camera. Since it is just a demo well you should get the idea.
canopies for free- or nearly
Great thread by Barry (baz49exe)
Check it out!
Here's a good example of using a heat shrunk pop bottle with a turned wooden form. I this case, I used a multipart form to make a shape that's wider in the middle than on the ends. Normally, you wouldn't be able to get the cowl off the form.
Pop bottle cowls are better than aluminum because they don't dent as easily, are lighter, and easier to make, especially if you can turn the form on a lathe.
Pop Bottle Cowl
Great job on your answer, and your cowl. I just did a quick reply for someone who is not familiar with the pop bottle shrinking cowl. I like the way you got around the middle of the cowl being smaller. Very nice touch. I agree with you that plastic is better and its easyer.
And, yeah, people do give me strange looks when measuring various plastic bottles with a tape measure at the local grocery store!
You are not limited to just circular cowls with a plastic bottle either. I've used them for canopies, turrets, inline cowls, all sorts of stuff. I am just about to try another trick, using a caulking gun to apply the pressure while the plastic is being heated. It requires 2 pieces and the modification to the caulking gun (usually $4 or $5 at the hardware store). We'll see...
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