Built a 3D Steel Model (291/366)

291SteelModelTop“The mystical structure, with its perfect amalgam of delicacy and power, exerts an uncanny effect. Its efficiency cannot conceal the artistry. There is heart there, and soul. It is an object to be contemplated for hours. ”
Herb Caen, on the Golden Gate Bridge


A little while ago, Nick and I went for a stroll and along the way wandered into Books, Inc. on Market Street.  Along with their selection of (what else?) books, they have cute little gifts, toys for kids, and other little knick knacks.  One of the things that caught my eye were these little 3D metal models – flat sheets of steel with punch out pieces, that you assemble without needing any screws or bolts to fasten them together.  There were several different ones, but the kits that caught my attention were the Golden Gate Bridge and a San Francisco Cable Car.  My grandparents used to have a wire sculpture of the Golden Gate Bridge above the fireplace, and I always liked that piece.  I think that was another reason I liked the look of these steel models.  Neat!  We purchased both The Bridge and the Cable Car.

Tonight, I got to build the Golden Gate Bridge!

All the pieces come on a flat sheet of metal – they’re pre-cut and all you have to do is punch them out.  Well, it’s not as simple as that – it is a sheet of metal, so the pieces aren’t that easy to remove.

The instruction sheet suggests using needle nose pliers, and since I have my trusty toolkit (that I highlighted when building my wooden cakepop holder a while ago – I really do love that toolkit), I had a pair of them ready to go.  Yay!

I punched out all the pieces.  Thank goodness for the pliers – I started without them and kinda bent some of the pieces.  Ugh.  But using the pliers made it much easier.

The instructions don’t have words (ha ha – like the Robox I built with the Kid a little while ago – and this was just a little more detailed), but the pictures were pretty straight forward.  You fit the pieces together, and bend or twist the tabs, depending on the symbols shown where the tabs are inserted.

I built the center portion of the bridge first – the tabs are so small and the metal isn’t that easy to bend – even with the pliers – without bending the other pieces!  But I got it done.  Whew!

Next, the two outside pieces of the bridge were built, and I joined them all together.  I thought the way they did the towers was cool – one tower frame piece is at each end of the center portion of the bridge, another tower frame piece is on each of the two sections of the bridge that connect to the center – and there are slender panels joining the two sides of each tower (and each section of the bridge) together.

The only thing left to do was attach the bridge to the base pieces, which were cool too – you fold the little flaps on the bases down to make each piece stand on its own, fold the flaps on the bases of each tower to close them up, and the tabs on the bottoms of the towers slide into slots on the base pieces.  Secure all the tabs, and you’re good to go!
291BaseTabsH 291BridgeTabsV

While the description of this little project (and the concept) is relatively simple, this took me a while to do.  The pieces that are perforated for folding (like the bases) fold easily and cleanly, but I had a decent amount of trouble getting all the tabs and pieces of the rest of the components of the bridge to fold, fit, and stay together until each section was completed (the two cable sides of the bridge didn’t want to stay connected to the roadway until the tower ends were put on them), but after all the parts of each section were connected, the structure was pretty sound – and it looks very cool!

Because I had a hard time getting everything to “stay” during assembly, I bent more pieces (in wrong places) than I’d have liked to.  If you want to try one of these models out, I’d suggest getting a few different ones and making your least favorite one first, so that if you have a few rogue bends here and there you won’t mind so much (don’t worry, you won’t ruin your first one – you’ll just likely figure out some tips and tricks along the way that will help you with subsequent ones).  I’m still pretty happy with my first attempt at one of these.
291BridgeFinishedV 291BridgeFinishedH

All in all, I thought these models were totally cool and fun.  If you want to make these but aren’t sure what to do with yours, you can always tie a string around a part and use them as Christmas ornaments!  I think that’s what I’m going to do with mine.  Happy modeling!


Related Links:
Metal Works 3D Models on Amazon
Metal Marvels San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge 3D Laser Cut Model
Metal Marvels San Francisco Cable Car 3D Laser Cut Model 


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2 Responses to “Built a 3D Steel Model (291/366)”
  1. Ying says:

    I used to have an erector set when I was growing up, but this is awesome…you did a great job (and your nails look good too)!

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