Properties that incorporate black iron gates add beauty and security. Unique yet versatile, they can be forged by hand or fabricated and assembled by welders, foundry workers, and blacksmiths. Each gate starts with a basic frame pattern. According to the use and imagination of the owner, the basic black iron gate can become anything from a simple farm gate to contain animals to modern pieces of movable art to protect a family home or estate. Building a black iron gate does require the skill of welding or joinery; be it done with forge and anvil or with electric welding devices.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Expandable carpenter's ruler
- Pencil or suitable marking device
- Note paper
- Large sheet of cardboard, plywood, or flat area of concrete
- Gate latch
- Pair of gate hinges and pintles
- 1-inch by 2-inch mild steel
- Various lengths and gauges of mild steel or purchased iron balusters
- Oxyfuel, plasma, or forge cutting tools
- Forge or electric welding machine
- Electric grinder or hand files
- Carpenter square
- 6-foot carpenter level
Measure the inside height and width of the desired opening. Take care to measure each side at total height and distance from the ground along with the width at both the top and bottom. If the gate is to fit on the outside of the opening, measure the dimensions from the centre of the gate hinge pintle to the desired point where the gate will close flush on opposite side.
Measure the diameter of the hinge pintles and the outside point of the latch when in the open position for a gate that is to fit on the inside of a measured opening.
Draw template of gate on cardboard, plywood, or concrete using pencil or other suitable marking device according to opening sizes. Make sure that one inch or more is deducted from the width on the hinge pin side to allow the pintle to be mounted on existing structure, and that the measurement of the latch pin is deducted from the entry or opening side if the pin extends past the frame. Fit the frame or outer pieces to the opening sizes keeping in mind that not all openings are plumb or square and allowing for pintles and latch pin. Level the top and bottom or shape to opening and grade of ground.
Measure and cut the 1-inch by 2-inch mild steel for the gate frame according to template. Traditionally joined black iron gates may require additional stock and will need to be measured in accordance to the type of joinery being used.
Assemble gate frame using traditional forging techniques or by welding. Square any 90 degree corners with carpenter square and level frame pieces by laying 6-foot carpenter level from side to side and top to bottom before final welding.
Place and weld hinges to the gate frame, positioning the centre of the hinge's pintle hole where it aligns with the centre point of the pintle when attached to its supporting structure .
Cut the various stock iron, making bends and decorative pieces according to the desired design. Purchased fabricated balusters, railings, and ornamental iron pieces may need to be cut, bent, ground, or otherwise altered to fit into the existing design.
Assemble gate according to the design template by welding or attach using traditional forging techniques. Adding additional hardware including any unique features such as dead bolt locks, kick plates, pet doors, and Cain bolts should precede the attachment of ornamental pieces. Traditional assembly methods, such as the use of "collars," require additional metal to complete the joinery.
Clean and apply a finish to the completed black iron gate in accordance to the owner's choice. Black iron left unfinished will rust quickly.
Tips and warnings
- Drawing a template of your gate on concrete with chalk or on plywood or cardboard with a permanent marker helps insure correct design before your metal is cut.
- Templates of the sides of the gate and the latches and hinges assist in not making your gate too wide for intended opening or mispositioning hardware for existing opening hardware attachment holes.
- Sealed bearing hinges make gates easier to open and shut along with minimal maintenance.
- Be sure to weigh your gate material; different types of hinges require different weight/load bearing hinges. (See Reference 3)
- Only experienced blacksmiths should attach gate hinges using traditional joinery techniques due to the weight of the black iron; hinges should be welded for safety.
- Hinge and latch materials are not always made from the same type and gauge metal as the gate. Take precaution when welding not to overheat hinges and latches and for harmful fumes that may be produced.
- Eye protection should be worn at all times when working with black iron. Small shards of metal may fly into eyes causing discomfort and possible permanent eye damage.
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