Steel wool Light Painting And Other Uses

by Hobbies

Steel wool is used for buffing woodwork, remove rust from metal tools, and clean linoleum. The light painting captures streaks of golden light produced from igniting steel wool.

Steel wool is a bundle of ultrafine and flexible sharp-edged steel filaments. It comes in 8 different levels of abrasiveness grades ranging from super fine to extra coarse, that are determined by the thickness of the wire of which it is made. The wire thickness is controlled when shaving the wool from a rod by selecting the right type of serrated tools.

Steel wool is used for buffing and cleaning purposes

Steel wool
Steel wool
Wikimedia commons

Common uses of steel wool

Also known as wire wool or wire sponge, steel wool is used for buffing woodwork, shellac, lacquer and varnish when used with wax or oil. It removes rust from chrome with kerosene, cleans windows without water or cleaners, polishes aluminium, copper, stainless steel, brass and zinc, cleans gold clubs, screens and frames. It removes minor burns from wood and leather, old finishes from antiques, and prepares wood for first coat paint and smoothes raised grain. It cleans linoleum, rubber asphalt, and other resistant floors, and is great for copper pipe cleaning before soldering.  Very fine steel wool can be used as tinder in emergency situations and for a campfire, as it burns even when wet and can be ignited by a simple lighter or touching the terminals of a 9-volt battery. When packed in gaps around pipes, it forms a barrier rodents cannot chew through. It can be used to prevent a clog due to the hair shed, when stuffed in a drain while you bathe your pet. With a little water, it lifts black heel marks on vinyl flooring. 

Steel wool photography

Light painting
Light painting

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Light painting or steel wool photography

Light painting or steel wool photography captures circular streaks of golden light produced from igniting bundles of steel wool. For this, you require your camera, film, tripod, a stainless steel whisk and a strong cord to tie it, some steel wool ( Grade 0 to Grade 0000), a lighter or 9-volt battery, some protective clothing and safety goggles. 

An abandoned factory, tunnel or bridge will be an awesome location. Be sure to pick a spot where you won't set fire to anything. Long sleeves, trousers, hoodie, gloves and protective glasses are essential, especially when spinning under a ceiling as the sparks will fall back down on you.

Attach a cable to a stainless steel kitchen whisk. Next take a bit of steel wool enough to fill the whisk. You can puff it up a little. Using a cigarette lighter, you can ignite it just a little bit, that it starts smouldering at one or two places. Once you start spinning the whisk, airflow will cause the rest of the steel wool to catch on fire. The faster you spin the whisk, the more sparks you will get. Using a camera with a bulb setting, you can capture the entire sparking process.

Sometimes bigger chunks of steel wool can detach and fly off. If you see this happening, make sure it has stopped smouldering. Keep the rest of your steel wool somewhere the sparks cannot reach it.

Reference sources:

Updated: 01/09/2016, Hobbies
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blackspanielgallery on 01/09/2016

I have seen several large pieces of copper apparently marked by steel wool or some other abrasive, rendering interesting swirls and curved parallel etches.

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