Craft & Design

I’m absolutely convinced that if you spend enough time in scrapyards you will eventually see everything. You won’t recognize most of it, and the stuff that you do recognize will more often than not have originated in a slightly surreal parallel universe and have some completely unexpected characteristics attached an otherwise familiar form.

Scrapyards are like that. It can be crazymakin’ if you’re sourcing very specific components for a very specific build; I’ve talked to guys wandering around NorthStar with parts list printouts and confused looks on their faces who just couldn’t understand why we didn’t also stock the 1/8 hp version of the motor they’d just pulled of a scoop of breakage. If you’re shopping to spec, stick to a specialty outlet: It’s as simple as that.

On the other hand, If you embrace the philosophy of improvisational fabrication , a scrapyard is the best possible place to fritter away an afternoon looking for…whatever. ‘Whatever’ can manifest itself in unexpected ways, provided you a) pay attention, b) avoid over-focusing and c) recognize opportunities.

Case in point, the stuff I found this week in a bin of what’s called ‘New Aluminum’ in the scrap metal trade. They looked like 12″x12″ pieces of 3/8″ aluminum plate until I flipped one over to reveal…

The StarGate. In absolutely jawdropping detail. Really. Take a moment to scope these detail images and fantasize about what you could make if you had a cnc mill with this kind of resolution:

Un-freakin’-believable… and there was a pair of ’em! Both sides of a mold made specifically to crank out weensy little StarGates about 9″ across. Personally, I’d always thought Richard Dean Anderson was taller than that, but whatever…

These things had come into the yard in a load of stuff from one of the movie industry prop shops…they’d seen some use (there were a few stray bits of resin visible), but were nearly new. I’ve done a fair bit of casting and mold-making over the years, but I experienced a complete WTF moment when I realized that this particular mold had no sprues.

Heh? No fill hole? No vent hole(s)? So how did they get the resin into the damned thing?

I haven’t got a clue. But finding out is gonna enlarge my skillset and make me a better Maker.

…Which is the entire point of this post: I left the yard with a couple of chunks of intricately engraved aluminum, but the really valuable thing that I came away with was ‘a reason to learn new stuff’.

I also haven’t got a clue as to what I’m gonna do with the mold (which I paid 6 clams for, BTW). I’m sure I’ll thing of something, even if it’s just making big-assed StarGate ice cubes to float in the punchbowl at the next Eccentric Manors soire.

Your suggestions/input / lore is welcomed: post a comment, or ping me at

Humongous TIFs of the related images here, here and here