Introduction: Metal Fence Art Work

About: I like building things mainly from wood or metal. Especially if they look complicated to make, then I like to think about how to make it. And I love it when the result looks good.

My balcony had a simple fence and I wanted to make one that would look better. I also wanted to make something from metal which involved welding, bending and cutting something from sheet metal. You can see the final result on the photo.

Since safety rules prescribe that it should not be possible for a small child to fall through the openings or to use the horizontal parts of the fence to climb over it, I kept the original fence behind the new one. For some contrast I painted the new fence black and the original one white, so the new one is the eye catcher.


Dimensions of the metal that I used:

I made the frame of square steel tube 30x30 mm (1 3/16" x 1 3/16").

The spirals are made of metal strip of 25 mm (1") wide and 4 mm thick (=5/32")

The metal sheetplate is 3 mm thick (1/8")

The entire frame is 1x1 meter (40" x 40")

Step 1: The Idea

Somewhere I saw a wooden fence for a garden made from an old ornament with spirals and birds. I liked the combination of spirals and images from animals and made a small scale drawing based on the example which I saw. I scanned my drawing and send it to a colleague who had a plotter and asked him to plot my drawing on the actual size that I wanted to make.

Step 2: Making the Birds

Originally I planned to cut the birds from my full size paper template and use that to draw the outlines of the birds on metal. But while I was working I decided to change the birds so they would look more like ducks, since we live next to some water with a lot of ducks swimming there. I drew the duck on paper and adjusted it on the drawing until I liked it. If you do not like drawing, you can also just look on the internet for a bird or other shape that you like and print it on the size you want to make it.

I cut the bird out of the paper of my drawing and used a permanent marker to draw the outline of the shape on my sheet metal. Then I cut it from the sheet metal using an angle grinder and made the edges smooth with a grinder, a file and some sandpaper.

Step 3: Making a Tool to Bend the Metal Strips

I wanted to make the spirals without investing a lot of money in a tool. I made a drawing of a spiral on paper. Alternatively you can also just download a spiral shape from the internet and print it. Then I cut the actual spiral shape from the piece of paper and used a permanent marker to transfer the shape to a plate of scrap metal.

Then I looked through all my pieces of scrap pipe and cut a quarter or half piece of the pipes that matched my spiral shape quite well. I welded all those quarter pieces of pipe on the scrap piece of plating that I had. I made the inner part of the spiral higher than the outside so the outer part would not be in the way while I was using the top part.

I added the small solid piece to block the strip from moving while I was bending it.

I added a strip at the bottom of the plate, so I could use that to fix my bending tool in the vise.

Step 4: Bending the Metal Strip

I put the end of the metal strip that I wanted to bend in my tool and it kind of locked itself in its position. My strip was about 2 meters (2 yards) long and I could bend it manually without having to heat it up. I just used the lenght of the strip as a lever and followed my spiral to get the shape. The only problem was that the space in my workshop is limited, so I had to place the vise in the middle of the workshop to have enough space to rotate the strip around my tool.

If you decide to use a strip which is thicker or wider than the one I used, then it will get difficult to bend it without using any heat.

Step 5: Make Another Tool for Further Bending the Strip

I made a second tool for bending the strip by welding two solid steel rods to a spare piece of square tube. When I placed my strip between the two solid rods, I could use this second tool to make some small bends in the metal strip.

Step 6: Arranging All the Parts to the Desired Shape

I found out that it was quite difficult to follow my original drawing because the spirals became a bit larger or smaller then I originally indended. So I decided just to make some spirals and to arrange them in a few different ways until I found a shape that I liked best. I wanted both birds to touch the other metal at three points so I could weld them and get a solid structure. I did not want the beek of the bird to touch anything as that looks a bit strange. I used the spirals that I made and just kept moving them around until I had the shape that I liked. After that I cut the square tubes to the final length and welded everything.

The main issue that I had during welding was that my square frame was not fully square after my first attempt. So I tried again and this time I first welded some temporary diagonal supports for the frame and then it turned out square.

Step 7: Painting and Installation

I painted my new fence black and while it dried, I removed the original fence, stripped it completely to bare metal and painted that one white.

I drilled a few additional holes in the wall so I could mount both fences independant of eachother and attached both to the wall.

I enjoyed the process of making this fence and also the neighbours like their new view. And when I wake up early in the morning and the sun is shining through the curtains, I like the shadow of the new fence.

Metalworking Contest

Participated in the
Metalworking Contest