Assuming you are just making a pair or a few more, make a layout table
using particle board or MDF (not plywood) set on 2x4's and sawhorses. Do
the design full size, lay the steel in place, use 8d finishing nails to
hold things loosely in place. Tack weld soldily, remove from the
fixture, alternate welds on both sides to minimize warpage. You can use
a 4" hole saw to make holes at the weld points if you want better access
to the welds.
On 14 Nov 2005 02:31:30 -0800, with neither quill nor qualm,
Checked your local libraries lately, Scary? Here's one reference:
The fence bible : how to plan, install, and build fences and gates to
meet every home style and property need, no matter what size your yard
Author: Beneke, Jeff.
Publisher, Date: North Adams, MA : Storey Pub., c2005.
ISBN: 1580175309 (pbk. : alk. paper) - Description: ix, 261 p.
: ill. (some col.) ; 28 cm.
Metalworking is at 671 in the Dewey Decimal System.
Wrought Iron is at 739.4 here.
Online, try Googling for Gates:
CAUTION: Driver brakes for Pukey Ducks (To ignite them.)
I have made I don't know how many. I used to be a steel erection
Some of the major tips:
Use a flat surface. A metal table works the best, or one that is made of
angle iron. Getting things flat as you make them is the key to them fitting
Clamp the outside frame so the welding does not tweak the frame as you build
Stagger your welds so they pull against each other instead of all in the
same direction at the same time.
Use a calculator to figure spindle spacing. Yes, you can put them on 4 or 5
inch spacing, but you will almost always come up with an odd distance for
one of them and it will be visibly out of synch. Divide the distance by
number of spindles you want. Take that number, even if it is a fraction,
and round it off to the first two digits after the decimal point. Put that
into the memory and add it to itself in steps to figure the layout. Put the
top and bottom bar together before you weld anything, and mark the lines
with a soapstone on both. When you spread them apart on the table, they
will mark where the top and bottom goes.
Use pieces of flat bar to center the spindles on the rails. Say, you are
using half inch spindles in a one and a half inch frame. You would lay down
half inch spacers to get the spindle centered.
If you are going to put on backing, don't put on any decorations on the
back, or the backing won't lay flat. If you are using backing, make the
back flush so the backing will attach without having a pucker in it. If you
are using casting designs, make sure you space the spindles wide enough to
put a design between them.
Make sure you got things square and flat from the get go. Measure
diagonals, and keep measuring square in case it creeps on you. Clamp clamp
clamp. Fergeddabout spacing jigs, just mark the top and bottom rail at the
same time, and use a calculator to get it even.
Do a drawing ahead of time so you allow for every rail, hinge, closure,
space, etc, so when you get it done it fits right.
Many times, I do it as I go along if I am making a gate that isn't simple.
I measure and cut a few pieces. Then add into the open fields. (a field is
an open area you want to decorate) Sometimes I like to use many different
sizes of tubing and stock within the same gate. You can now get stock that
looks like tree bark, and much ornamental stuff from places like
decorativeiron.com. Don't worry so much about jigging up to do it easier
and faster. DO IT ONCE, DO IT RIGHT. It might be slower, but you will do
Look around at what's been built. See how they did it. Look for their
mistakes and mismeasurements and learn. As for styles, go with what you
like if it's for you. Take pictures. If you are going to be doing it for
someone else, pictures help you to arrive at the end design. Use graph
paper to sketch out a "cartoon" of what the final will look like. If you
are doing it for someone else, it saves hassle when they say, "that's not
what I wanted."
Weld all four sides of tubing. If water can collect inside, it rusts, and
if it freezes, it expands the tube to make it ugly and will actually explode
the tube and leave it misshapened.
Use good hinges and hardware. Use good fasteners that will last and support
the load. Too bad the way to learn about those is mostly through failures.
Just hang everything up to hold about three times the weight. That will
compensate for the little rug rat that will one day be swinging on the gate.
If you are doing it for someone else, get half the money up front. This
gate will fit about only one place in the world, and if they get run over by
a beer truck between now and installation, you at least won't lose out. Get
the balance upon installation. Guarantee everything. Do so by doing good
work and installing it right. Go backs are a killer.
Step by step:
Wow. So much.
Measure accurately. Have a good saw. Pay attention to get things cut
square. Make up a stop on your saw table so if you have to cut 16 pieces at
33 3/8", you can do it repetitively and duplicate the pieces. I am using a
band saw, and cut up to nine pieces at a time now. I no longer have an
abrasive chop saw.
Now is the time to clean and deburr the steel. I use gasoline on a rag,
then wipe with a second clean rag. Watch out for these rags as they catch
fire easily, or just smoulder when a molten bb gets on them. Use cotton
rags, terry is best. The cleaner you make it now, the easier it is later to
paint. Use an electric wire brush to get off rust. Buy clean steel and
keep it where it won't get wet and rust, or you will be spending half the
Cut out as much as you can ahead of time. Fit them together as assembling,
but don't weld. Maybe tack. Mistakes will present themselves at this time
saving a lot of time later. When cutting, cut and fit. Mistakes will
reveal themselves immediately.
Clamp down the outer frame and tack. Fill in cross members and spindles.
Lock boxes, decorations, hinges, etc, come last. Allow a 1/8" space at
corners so the plastic cap will be flush when put in all the way. Use
plastic caps, or make tabs out of flat bar to close off openings to prevent
Stagger the welds to avoid distortion. Weld as pretty as you can. Check
your work often. Measure, measure, measure.
For painting, get some derelict rims. Lay them flat. Weld pieces of rebar
vertically on two or four sides, about sixteen inches long. You can then
stand the gate by sliding it onto the bars and paint. Make one with four
bars, and you can hold up four pieces with five rims, the four bar in the
hub. They can even hold four different lengths at a time. I prefer a big a
frame for painting, because then you can spin the piece while painting, and
get better coverage of all the nooks and crannies
More than you wanted to know about gates. If you would like to see some of
my work, e mail me.
I saved that message because one day I want to make an iron fence. Hopefully
forged as I did some blacksmithing long ago but most of what you said would
apply. Please post the link to your gates on the board or email it to me as
I and I suspect others here would like to see them.
Email address is valid.
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