Decorative Iron Projects

Well just to keep peace in the famaily I had to make a few items top keep the better half happy…..not a large price to pay by any means as she has always supported whatever I pursue.So sincxe she went and bought me a new Lincoln SP175+ MIG welder I figured it would be a good time to get acquainted with the MIG and try my hand at doing some iron work for a change.

The wife has wanted a walk through type trellis for some time, and after making her return many various trellis she bought at places like Big Lots and Wal Mart because of them being basically import junk, I thought a trellis would be a good first project. I happened on a local companay here in town that happened to have all kinds of cast iron pieces so off to the fopundry we went. I picked up the pieces she wanted to incorporate into her trellis, and then re-produced quite a few of these pieces in my own foundry bouth out of aluminum as well as cast iron. While things went fine for the most part, it took a lot of time to utilize a pre made decorative cast iron panel as a pattern due to its intricate details, and for what they cost it simply was not worth the time to make your own….with that said, these pieces are cheap in all respect, good quality and unless you have lots of time on your hands simply not worth making on your own.

While I do not have any images of the construction of the trellis itself, its just basic welding. The trellis is 42″ wide, by 44″ deep by 90″ high. The main frame is 1″ square tube of 11 ga, pickets are solid 1/2″ in both twisted and plain styles. I had a few castings made out of aluminum, but decided to make it all utilizing cast iron pieces. This is prior to getting cleaned up and primed and painted.

Here it is all painted and trimmed in a copper highlight. Its painted with a polyurethane primer, and top coated with automotive acrylic enamel. Short of dipping these type irons, it does take a considerable amount of paint to paint them. Too much space as compared to actual pieces needing paint. I started out with a conventional 1 quart automotive paint gun, but soon switched to a touch up gun or what some call a door jamb gun, and not anywhere near as much paint was lost. I used Valspar automotive refinishing materials for primer and paint. The trellis is mounted to the concrete walk by wedge type studs.

Another view of trellis in place with planters on bottom sides. It has climbing roses on each side as well as Confederate Jasmine, which is an evergreen vine and will eventually cover most of this trellis and provide a good background for the red climbing roses. Future plans are for a wrought iron fence in matching pattern to be installed on both sides of the trellis…….yet something else to have to trim around!

Closeup of the top casting. I cast one of these and bought the other. In the small oval opening I have cast a brass plate with our family name in it and the date the arbor was built. It is presently covered in jasmine and climbing roses, with low voltage lighting up the trellis and plants……Hurricane Ivan managed to drop a large pine limb on it, but no damage except for some chipped paint….

While looking at the various castings at the foundry my wife spotted some items referred to sa filament baskets…..She wanted them incorporated into her trellis because she liked these baskets, but afater much fussing she finally decided to stay with patterns she had already picked and not to over do it. None the less, she just had to have some of these baskets.

This was her idea to utilize her much wanted filament baskets. Its now a candle holder. I used a cast iron end cap for th cap, and a picket collar for the base. Only problem is getting a candle in it…….as these filament baskets are all welded together.

So………oout comes the air grinder and cut off wheel, and in a little bit was soon able to seperate one filament of the basket. Now you can lift the cap, twist one filament about 1/2 turn, and it gives a nice large area to install the candle. Twist filament back in and replace cap and its ready to go.

I have since made a few of these in various sizes for use on the patio and mantle inside the house, and in various places around the patio garden. They cast a nice light and a tea candle works great in them. These filament baskets are approx 8″ tall by 3 1/2″ in diameter and are constructed out of 1/2″ sq bar stock. They look great if you place a bromelaide type plant in them as well.

Its amazing what you can make with these various pieces of decorative iron. They certainly are not reserved for wrought iron railings etc, and are not expensive to buy. Its when you buy these pieces in a finished product that the price tag goes way up. They are very easy to work with and well within anyones range if they can cut steel and weld. Regular carbon steel wire in a MIG will work just fine to weld them in place, as will a stick welder. Some folks even braze them in place.

Here is a hose guide made with simple cast pieces. The flower design is a simple rosestte piece, the roller is two halfs of a base collar and its all stuck on a piece of 3/8″ steel rod. The roller rotates to allow pulling of a hose around a corner of a flower bed or guides a hose to keep it from kinking. We use a ot of these hose guides, and the typical plastic guides never seemed to hold up. There is less than $3.00 worth of parts in these guides and they take about 15 minutes to assemble…Just straight forward welding together of the individual castings. The same basic type cast iron hose guides normally sell for over $15.00 each at the local garden centers.

So now that we have a way to guide the hose, we wanted something to hang the hose on. A casting with standoffs welded to the back and to a piece of plate made a perfect hose hanger for the back patio that only needed a 25 foot length of hose. This casting on the left is a home brew replica cast aluminum, and the one on the right is cast iron replica. The cast iron one is still unpainted and unmounted in this image . I needed more hose hangers so I cast them as it was Saturday and the foundry was closed, so a few minutes to ram up a mold, take a break while the furnace is doing its thing, pour the molds and I had my additional castings.

Shepherds hooks are another easy to make project out of these castings. After pricing a Shepherds hook that was made with other than a simple bend piece of steel rod, it was not hard to come up with much sturdier hooks, and hooks that were not as prone to falling over with winds and rains. Main stem is 1″ steel tube of 14 ga, with 3/8″ square stock twisted and bent in a radius to make the plants support arms. Its topped with a typical fence type picket.

Yep, the birds needed a stand for their feeder, as the squirrels were forever eating their feed when it hung from the tree. Now its squirrel proof and it seems like the bird like it as well…….The casting is a typical casting used to support a shelf or a mailbox.

The wife likes to paint and make various objects for in the garden. These objects are mainly made out of concrete. One day she came home with a concrete stump with all kinds of critters n it and stated she needed a sundial…..so I made a pattern out of plexiglass, stuck on some numerals and scrounged up a heap of old plumbing fittings and valves, and cast her a sundial. I accelerated the patina on it with fertilizer and potassium permanganate. Sundail is approximately 12″ in diameter and 1/2″ thick at the edges, but the center is much thinner. Just playing around with the sundial I found it is very capable of giving the correct time if care is taken in proper orientation when setting it in place.

I also made a chaise lounge from 1/2″ and 5/8″ inch round stock bent up with my home made ring roller and the Harbor Freight metal bender. Picked up a few steel stampings of vine leaves (also sold at places that sell decorative type castings) to add a bit of detail to it, and spent the better part of a weekend turning out a chaise lounge which reclines and rolls on trwo rubber tired wheels, and its seen quite a bit of use this past summer….. I do not have an image of the chaise lounge at the present time but one will eventually be posted here if your interested.

I bought all of the castings at “Bama Foundry” which is located in Montgomery Alabama. Some I cast myself using pieces I bought as a pattern. Numerous places all over the USA sells these type castings, and they are quite common and relatively cheap and very easy to work with. Give it a try and you may be surprised at just what you may come up with in the end, and save some $$$$.

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