Kevin first shows a metal ring that’s really just a cut-off from a pipe. You can weld such a ring to a piece of metal to lift it using an engine hoist, which is what some people call a shop crane.
He shows what an engine hoist looks like. It has a hook and a hydraulic cylinder that you pump up by hand to raise the boom.
To lift something heavy from the ground, weld the ring to it and use the hook to grab it. One problem, though, is that the hook doesn’t go all the way to the ground.
That’s where chain comes in. Kevin says it’s a good idea to have some chain around. He shows a chain that isn’t very heavy duty, but carries a bigger one in his truck. It really comes in handy.
Just make sure that the chain has welded links, not formed links – he shows what happens when he tries to lift a heavy sculpture with a chain with formed links .
If you’re lifting something that’s small enough to fit between the legs of the shop crane, that’s a great tool. For larger items, Kevin built a gantry crane. It has two 1-ton chain falls, two legs, wheels for moving it, bracing to keep it solid, and a big I beam across the top.
What happens if can’t attach your ring to the hook? Use a clevis, which is a “ring” with a section that opens. Caron has even welded a clevis to a piece of metal to lift it. Just be sure the clevis is closed completely and tightly for the greatest strength and safety.
The tool he uses the most for bringing in sheets of steel, though, is a plate lifter. It has a hook on the top and two toothed jaws that you slip the metal between. When you pick up on the ring, the plate lifter grabs the steel. The heavier the plate, the tighter it grabs.
Overhead, Kevin has a little skyhook. It’s a 3-pulley block-and-tackle over his workbench. He uses it for lifting and for flipping over heavy metal items. He can also pick up things, pull them to the side, and then let it down on the ground. Then he can pick it up with an engine hoist or dolly.
Sometimes he has to get really creative. Because his art studio was originally a garage, he has some old car lifts. Among other uses, he uses them and some chain to lift items in and out of trailers. “Be creative,” says Kevin. “It helps.”
Look around you, Caron says. You can find things to help you. Or get your own engine hoist – you can find them for less than $200 and they are rated to about 4 tons. Improvise – don’t blow out your knees or back. Find a way to cheat!
Now that you’re done watching this video, join the fun on Kevin’s Facebook page – you never know what Kevin is going to do next! You can find his page at or search for “Kevin Caron Artist.”