After getting really expensive quotes for my railings, i decided to make my own. i got inspired by my skateboard wheels, i liked how the light shined through. i purchased some stock steel channels to use as posts, machined the wheels to hold the glass panes and then took measurements about 17 different times and ordered the glass. everything fit perfectly and i saved 6000$.
You might not need railings, but maybe this will give you other ideas!
Step 1: Posts
Step 2: Tests, plans and machining.
i decided to use 6mm thick tempered glass. call the glass shop and ask what size holes they can make before you start... i got lucky... i machined the wheels at 38mm, and they could do 40mm holes in the glass. the 2 mm difference made everything fit much better!
i made a tool to hold the wheel in the lathe from its center, then the first step was to make one side flat. that side will be the back. i did all 38 wheels, then moved on to the next step. i grooved the front part of the wheel where the washer will sit. i then cut the wheel removing the entire front part, and then machined it so that the center diameter is 38mm and 6mm wide.
it took me about 8 hours to make all 38 wheels, and at least 1 to clean the entire shop... urethane dust is sorta sticky... oh yeah, wear a mask when you machine it!
Step 3: Hardware and math
i didnt actually take the hardness of the wheel into account, i just know they can take a beating. rule of thumb is that the thickness of the glass in mm divided by 2 equals the weight of the glass in lbs per square foot. so, 6mm means 3lbs per square foot. lets say the pane measure 4ft by 6ft, that means 24 sq/ft, times 3 = 72lbs. then divide that by 4 (since there's 4 wheels per pane) that means 18lbs per wheel... i know for a fact they could handle a lot more. the widest piece of glass i'm using is about 7ft wide, so instead of adding a post in the middle to prevent the glass from flexing too much, i just put the 2 posts farther from the edges than the other. another thing worth noting is that holes in the glass panes need to be at least 4 inches from the edges.
Step 4: Post holes
in a stroke of genius i decided to make little holes each sides of the big bolt hole, so that sunlight would shine through to the wheel (it works - looks like if there's 2 little LED in the wheel...). once the holes are done, i re-installed the posts, put the wheels on and took measurements for the glass. take extra time doing this because it needs to be perfect.