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My first project: a fence for my front yard

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  • Jack Olsen
    started a topic My first project: a fence for my front yard

    My first project: a fence for my front yard

    I'm willing to jump into a projects that I've never even seen someone else bring to completion, much less ones that I've got the correct experience or training for. I guess it's a blessing and a curse. (And in a little bit, some of you will be able to tell me which side of that is going to come out more true with this project.)

    I got a Hobart Handler 140 (120v) MIG welder. I rented a couple of videos to figure out how to use it. From there, I started planning a wrought-iron style fence for my front yard. The fact that the fence was going to require about 3,000 individual welds didn't occur to me, right away. The fact that I was planning on putting my first project right out in front of my own yard and house occurred to my wife, but I told her there was nothing to worry about. We'd plant vines on it, which would hide the imperfections. And if it's still ugly, I could always tear it down and sell it for scrap.

    I'm posting this to show the process I went through -- it might be useful to other weekend hobbyists who are thinking about a project like this. I'm also interested in more-experienced guys' opinions on what I might have done wrong, along the way. It's too late to fix most of the problems on this project, at this point, but I'm not so self-impressed that I think I didn't get any (probably many) of the parts wrong.

    Here's the front yard. I've got a retaining wall that I used to think was 40 feet wide (more on that later), and stands out about 20 feet in front of the house.





    I had a neighbor with a wrought iron style fence on his wall, and my thinking was that I could pretty much copy his project -- but at a fraction of what he probably paid. Here's his fence.



    His fence uses 3/4" pickets and 1-1/4" supports to make 9' sections. I decided I wanted a slightly 'lighter' look, and would use 5/8" pickets and 1" supports. I decided to add a support in the middle of each of my 8' sections so that there wasn't more than a 4' span -- as insurance against sag, since I was working with 16 gauge steel.
    Last edited by Jack Olsen; 08-10-2009, 05:14 PM.

  • Diverdude
    replied
    Great looking job, and a great report on the steps. Don't be so hard on your self about the little leg thing being out of place. Every time I build something and ask the family how it looks they think its perfect, then I proceed to show them all the mistakes they didn't see. You know the only people that would notice are those OCD welder people, you know how they are.

    Leave a comment:


  • fjk
    replied
    Originally posted by Jack Olsen View Post
    (do they do this anywhere outside of Southern California?) short-cut grass with its annual winter dose of steer manure.
    I've not heard of "short-cut grass" here in the upper-right-corner,
    but then, my thumb is very very brown. I can say, though, that
    my wife gets a pickup load or 2 of composted cow manure every year
    for the garden. I imagine that it's the same stuff, or at least comes
    from the same source... The plants love it.

    Swings and fence look great

    frank

    Leave a comment:


  • Broccoli1
    replied
    Jack,

    you up for a brew later?

    I'll be over at Bergin's on Fairfax for the games tonight.


    Swing looks good! Now I'll really know which house is yers

    Leave a comment:


  • Jack Olsen
    replied
    Thanks.

    Here's a small update. Yesterday, my wife finished up on her part -- the landscaping. No vines, so repainting the fence won't be a nightmare.

    You can also see my second front-yard welding project, a swingset. It's not painted yet, but the kid loves it.









    The grass is a mix now of new sod and (do they do this anywhere outside of Southern California?) short-cut grass with its annual winter dose of steer manure.
    Last edited by Jack Olsen; 11-19-2009, 02:03 PM.

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  • Vernon
    replied
    Fence

    Hey Jack,
    Looks real nice Make your house look real good Hope your leg is better.
    Great Job once again Vernon

    Leave a comment:


  • bear
    replied
    Havent got to follow the thread for awhile and you've been busy. Very nice job.

    Leave a comment:


  • Jack Olsen
    replied


    Thanks.

    For paint, I tried two different paths -- and I'll see how each holds up over time. For most of the sections (everything that sits on the retaining wall), I cleaned the steel with detergent, rinsed it, dried it, scuffed it with sandpaper, and then used Krylon Industrial "Iron Guard" light gray primer. It's what King Metals recommended, and it's compliant for California (which has its own laws on this, apparently). Over that, I used Krylon Industrial "Iron Guard" gloss black. Both are latex.

    Then, on some smaller sections, I tried a different approach. I cleaned and prepped the metal, and then used an automotive anti-rust paint: POR-15 "Blackcote," which is a variation of POR-15 that also contains UV protection. (Ordinary POR-15 will get chalky and lose its gloss when exposed to direct sunlight for too long.) POR-15 is not latex, it's a pain in the neck to apply, and it costs $45/quart. I used up a quart of it, and so far it's held up just as well as the traditionally painted stuff.

    But of course time will tell.

    I brushed (and sometimes rolled) the paint on. It's a lot slower than spraying, but it gives the paint more character -- which to me is what you want on a wrought-iron fence. It already looks like it's been there for a long time.

    Spraying has its advantages, but I used less than a gallon of paint for the whole fence, which was nice from a cost perspective.

    Leave a comment:


  • RTCmiller
    replied
    Wow, what a great intro to fence fabrication! I have been looking at building one for a shile, and this definately helped. I am also curious as to how you painted the fence, with what, etc. Also, do you think it would work to spray the fences? I have a paint sprayer, and i thought maybe it would be faster than by hand?

    Leave a comment:


  • Bigiron
    replied
    Iron fence

    I read the narrative, looked at the pics, and have been following up. I'm going to tell you Jack...I don't even like fences, but that made me want one. Great job with everything! Keep it up.

    Leave a comment:


  • Petron
    replied
    Jack, it looks fantastic, great job.

    Leave a comment:


  • gonukes
    replied
    Question on painting

    Jack, can you provide details on how you painted the fence? What type of cleaning, chemical or abrasive? What type of primer and paint (brand) did you use? Did you spray it on or hand brush?

    John Chunis

    Leave a comment:


  • Jack Olsen
    replied
    Thanks again, for all the positive responses.

    Originally posted by stick man View Post
    Nice looking fence how long do those blades last on your saw? we have a evoultion, been buying those cryo treated blades from partsmaster but thier not holding up for the 200.00 they cost.
    My $40 Freud Diablo blade did the whole fence -- all 300 pickets and the rest -- as well as three welding tables and a lot of other miscellaneous cutting. Most of it's been 16 gauge, so it's not really brutal cutting. But I'm happy with the blade. If I had an evolution saw, I'd get the Freud blades for it.

    * * *

    All right. Today I finished the latches for the two gates and the last piece of painting. It's fastened down. There's a traditional gate on one side and a small camouflaged gate on the other. I got a couple of chairs for the front yard, since I'm a lot lazier than my boy. It was a fun project and now it comes in handy every single day.

    (Next up, a swing set.)

    Here's a full shot that shows the one section (on the right) that needed to be sloped to match the terrain. I could have stepped the sections, but I thought this would be less noticeable.



    And here's the gate. I put a bar on one side that goes into a hole drilled into the walk. A slide-type latch holds the other side shut. I still might add springs to make it automatically return to center. We'll see.



    Thanks again to everyone for the suggestions and the encouragement.

    Leave a comment:


  • cat
    replied
    faststeel

    do you know about FastSteel? I read where you said you had to grind the weld on all 4 sides on the pickets-you can use FastSteel to cosmetically improve a weld. It's a 2-part epoxy putty that you knead in your hands. Home Depot sells it (in the paint department) for $3+. cat

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  • nctox
    replied
    Picket fence

    Jack,
    The fence is fantastic, but the narrative is the most complete and informative one I've read here. I'm a real novice, so I like your planning and ideas on how to accomplish certain tasks, even though you, by your own admission, are not experienced in this sort of thing.
    Sorry about the little injury, but the project is enviable.
    Nctox

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