Monday, May 6, 2013

GlowBoard: A Welded Steel Mini-Skateboard

Inspired by Ben's PocketBoard, I decided to make a small skateboard in order to scavenge free food faster. It all started when my roommate crufted an old skateboard from his fraternity. I went on Ebay and found some awesome glow-in-the-dark 70x51 mm skateboard wheels. I wanted to make the deck such that I could maximize the visibility of the wheels. I recently learned how to MIG and TIG weld (thanks to Mars) and after finding some steel rings in MITERS' scrap metal I decided to practice my welding technique (before welding together my future electric motorcycle). I made a wire-frame deck with supporting steel rods underneath and the negative piece of a water jetted steel wrench for the truck plates. 

For more on the build process...

Here's the board my roommate crufted.


The trucks are in good shape and are not very stiff, which improves the board's turning radius. I robbed the skateboard of it's trucks, reducing it's identity down to a swing seat on floor QED or w5.  

The glow-in-the-dark wheels are really cool looking... in the dark.

The rings are about 7.5 inches in diameter. 

I cut a ring in half and hammered the two halves to bigger diameters. I clamped a ridiculous steel steering wheel-like thing to the vice to use as an anvil.

I messed around with different orientations of the steel rings. This is what it will generally look like when it's finished. Time to weld! :)

My MIG welds aren't the best, but they will do. 

I found a long steel 3" wide 0.1" thick (which happens to have a wrench cut out of it) that fits between the welded rings. I want to make it out of one piece, so I can use the mill to ensure the truck holes are lined up (minimize drifting to one side or the other). After I weld the steel plate in place, I will cut out the wrench part to minimize the weight.

Measure a lot, or figure out a way to deal with the consequences... In order to minimize weight, I cut the steel plate down to the width of the trucks. 

I learned a cool new milling technique that doesn't make loud disgusting sounds. 

Drilled and countersinked countersunk holes.

Then made them look all shiny with the angle grinder paddle wheel. 

I pretty much just eye-balled it to get it centered with the rings (problem was, the rings weren't square). 

Tack welds. 

More MIG welding...

Pretty colors :) and well, the right side of that weld looks alright. 

Nick suggested I take a torch to the frame and make the hole thing have pretty colors. 

Looks like a wrench on wheels. 

They kind of glow in the dark. They might need more light to work well though. 

I put the hacksaw blade through the rings to saw off the inside wrench plate. 

I welded the hammered out half-rings in place to give it more structure length wise. However, it turns out that the steel rings aren't quite strong enough to support 75 kg. It bent too much (past its elastic region) causing permanent deformation. 

Walking back to East Campus Monday morning at 0500... good thing my classes don't start until 1400.

I figured out a way to stiffen up the board with two 0.375" diameter steel rods and the left over plates from the wrench. I milled the edges of the support truck plates to make them square. 

Then made them shiny with the angle grinder paddle wheel. I like making things shiny :P.

I cut the steel rods to the right length so I wouldn't have to worry about getting the steel plates a certain distance apart while in the welding area. The steel plates were plenty long so I could drill the truck holes after the whole assembly was welded (again using the mill to ensure the truck holes lined up correctly). 

I tried TIG welding the top, but its hard... and quite frustrating. The Tungsten tip has to be sharp and pointy otherwise the "electron flame" spreads out too much. Every time the tip touches the metal, it gets dull...

This should be plenty strong...

The grinder makes welds and extraneous shards of steel look pretty (also lots of noise and flying bits of hot steel).

I learned a lesson with this. The grinder can grind away a lot of material. Wouldn't want to waste an angle grinder wheel when it could be done on the infinite nearly infinite grinder rock. 

To give the board a sense of front and back, I made one end concave with a little tail (back end). 

I tried welding every joint in the middle in an attempt to stiffen the structure, but it still had problems with bending. The new assembly with 3/8" rods should do the trick. 

The welds looked like this after an hour of angle grinding with the paddle wheel. 

I used a brass wire brush drill bit to clean up the surfaces I didn't weld on in preparation for primer. However, I kind of like this shiny look. I may just paint it with a clear coat to protect it from rusting but still show the brass finish.

I drilled the truck holes on the mill and did more angle grinding. 

I used the end mill to extrude cylindrical cut-aways in the welds to make room for the spacers. I learned quite a bit about milling steel. Julian explained that it's better to make larger chip sizes, because steel work hardens. Also, depending on how the part is clamped or if there is slop in the table, the mill will actually move the part rather than cut the steel.  

lathed turned eight 3/8" aluminum rod spacers on the lathe (which is now facing in the direction of the new building construction/road rather than the MITERS hallway because of the sweet new CNC mill). 

That's right. MITERS got a CNC Mill! :) It was donated by a very awesome and generous MIT lab. 

Anyway... pretty pictures. 

The deck makes a cool shadow. 

Which Was What We Wanted...


  1. Hi there and thanks for this interesting and important post.I really enjoy your post Really its amazing.

    Flame cut steel

  2. I will say it is Perfect one. what an interesting post..Good Job!!

  3. Wow this skateboard is looking awesome specially the glowing wheels i liked the most.
    Spot Welding

  4. Inspired by Ben's PocketBoard, I decided to make a small skateboard in order to scavenge free food faster. It all started when my roommate ...

  5. Nice post! This is a very nice blog that I will definitively come back to more times this year! Thanks for informative post. Best Skateboard Trucks