Monday, December 16, 2013

Wrought Iron Fence Gate Design

When it comes to building projects, the old adage is: "Measure twice. Cut once." When you're designing a wrought-iron fence gate, it should be: "Think about cutting. Think about it again. Have some coffee. Think one more time. Then cut." Once wrought-iron pieces are cut and welded together, it takes an extensive amount of work to cut things apart, grind off the old welds, re-measure, re-cut and re-weld them. Does this Spark an idea?

The Fence

Survey the fence. Fences can be square and level on level ground; on sloped ground with the fence square and level to the ground; or on sloped ground with the fence posts square and true to the horizon. You might also have both the posts and the fence sections square to the horizon but stepped to accommodate a sloping landscape. Build your gate to accommodate the structure or rebuild the structure to accommodate the gate.


Decide whether the gate will be mounted to the existing fence/wall or have a freestanding frame. Attach the gate according to the fence composition: wood, metal or stone. Screw lag bolts into wooden fence posts. With stone, drill holes, insert metal or plastic anchors, and screw the lags into the anchors. With a metal structure, weld the hinges and closure to the fence. If you make a freestanding structure to accommodate your gate, dig the posts and any necessary concrete footings for the structure.


Complementing existing architecture is as important as fitting into the existing fence or wall. If your gate clashes with the architecture, it can look as bad as if you put the gate in off-square. You don't want a High Victorian house with a Southwest style gate, or a Spanish Mission house and wall with an Art Deco gate. The gate you make must respect the lines of the original architecture.

Materials and Workmanship

Match quality wrought iron to a quality house. Shoddy ironwork can lessen property values and send a negative image to guests and neighbors. According to 20-year veteran metal artisan Gypsy Wilburn, "Cheap, mismatched iron says one thing only: Someone with no taste inherited Grandma's estate and ruined it. There is nothing wrong with inexpensive, lower-quality iron on an old double-wide trailer or cheaply built ranch home, but do not degrade an expensive home by being chintzy on the ironwork. Some of the worst offenders are in San Francisco. They might as well have put a car on blocks in the front yard."

"Sketch, Sketch, Sketch"

Some artists and blacksmiths make dozens of sketches before working with metal. This may seem like overkill, but the results are worth it. Gypsy Wilburn states, "I had a customer ready to walk away because she did not like the drawings for her entryway. She saw one in the back of the folder and decided she wanted it."

Full-Scale Drawing

Choose your design and draw it to scale. This gives you a vision of the project and the sizes for materials. Lay individual parts in place before you assemble and weld them. Measure all sizes and angles three times before you mark them. It is easier to correct mistakes in a drawing than in expensive materials.

Tags: your gate, existing fence, existing fence wall, fence posts, fence wall, ground sloped