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Ornamental Railings

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  • Ornamental Railings

    In planning my railing project, I've been like a mental patient looking at every railing and fence I pass by, trying to get ideas. Here in Brooklyn the houses are very close together and I think that lends itself to having a lot of fences and railings. There are also a lot of old houses with authentic cast iron railings; really beautiful pieces.

    While taste is subjective, there has been a tremendous increase in SS fences, gates, storm/security doors which, in my opinion are just plain ugly. In fact, one of the deciding factors for doing this project myself was the one guy I brought in to look at the job only brought a SS sample. I never even asked him for a price...

    So here in my rant is a question to you gentlemen that have a welding business and may actually build and install fences and railings. I am sourcing my material from King Metal. The design I have chosen is from their Design Concepts book. They have some amazing designs in the book and also stock a lot of interesting and unique pieces. Why don't I see these on 98-99% of the houses I see? Do you think it's a lack of interest on the homeowners part or do you think it's a production issue from the builder's standpoint? Is the welder offering these options or is he just offering the cheapest product that can be put together faster? I have to believe there would be a niche market here, especially with the double-latte set gentrifying much of the 'hood. They would love the mix of art and utility.

    Man, once I get something in my head...

  • #2
    Alot of it is price. Here from all the fence i see its smashed down square tubing. Most people don't want to pay a good buck that you would have in it. But some do and those are the ones to seek out...Bob

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    • #3
      Most people look at ironwork the way that older women look at cars. They're more interested in it being functional and not making their butt look bigger.

      There is the price thing. And then there's something else. What it takes to make a great weldor isn't what it takes to have a real creative imagination.

      Welding is about self discipline. It takes a lot of practice and self discipline to be a really good weldor. A really good weldor can catch a puddle and concentrate on it start to finish.

      The really creative type craftsman can't. The puddle moves about a quarter of an inch and their mind has left the shop and is off figuring out how to make something else.

      Compare King stuff to real ironwork sometime. What King is missing is the soul of the work.
      Last edited by wroughtnharv; 02-21-2010, 07:11 AM.

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      • #4
        Man speak truth

        Originally posted by wroughtnharv View Post
        Most people look at ironwork the way that older women look at cars. They're more interested in it being functional and not making their butt look bigger.

        There is the price thing. And then there's something else. What it takes to make a great weldor isn't what it takes to have a real creative imagination.

        Welding is about self discipline. It takes a lot of practice and self discipline to be a really good weldor. A really good weldor can catch a puddle and concentrate on it start to finish.

        The really creative type craftsman can't. The puddle moves about a quarter of an inch and their mind has left the shop and is off figuring out how to make something else.

        Compare King stuff to real ironwork sometime. What King is missing is the soul of the work.
        My bud is a blacksmith, and the idea of King's is sacreligious.
        I am not a blacksmith, but I do plenty of ornamental metalwork. I feel I do creative, quality work and the idea of King's never enters the equation. Well, there was that one railing that was spec'd out of King's parts by another designer and I gladly busted it out... so fast because we didn't have to think about it. Ironically (or not), there was money made because we weren't hand-crafting every g0dd@mned piece of hardware, or engineering on the fly.

        What I'm trying to say is that maintaining that "soul" is often a slippery slope. Now I find the soul in a journey to become a better weldor, because I've really developed an appreciation for it. I no longer care what the customer's railing looks like, as long as it's made well with pride and diligence. There is a place for King's and the like, but you have to understand that place and how it fits into your directive.

        I've been doing this long enough that I no longer care about the style... I just like to weld.

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        • #5
          99% of the people buy by price.

          99% of the people don't care where it's made.

          99% of the people don't know the difference between hand forged and King's.

          I buy from King's and tell my customers that I don't forge the stuff myself. 99% don't care.

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          • #6
            Here is my first thing to weld. Being a poor welder adds to rustic look. Got my stuff from King, great company to work with.

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            • #7
              At least in a city, most people buy wrought iron to prevent trespassing and burglary. The factor driving that initial decision is money, and from there it shouldn't come as a surprise that most property owners continue to let cost dictate their choices.

              So, what gets put together is rarely beautiful -- which irritates anyone who's aware of how great wrought iron can look.

              And an even smaller subset of the population is irritated by the fact that 'wrought iron' is almost never made of wrought iron any more. It's decorative steel.

              Lots of old-world forms of craftsmanship have disappeared because they aren't what people are willing to pay for any more. Then again, we've all got to make compromises based on what we have the time, money and energy for.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by smooth72 View Post
                Here is my first thing to weld. Being a poor welder adds to rustic look. Got my stuff from King, great company to work with.
                That's a very nice looking gate. Who cares what it's made of. As long as it's strong and doesn't cost a fortune. Oh yes and it's got to be square

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                • #9
                  I can appreciate hand forged work as much as anyone. I wish that I had the talent to do it. It is a true art.

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                  • #10
                    Pros I am sure would laugh at me I screwed the outside part of the frame down to my wood work bench and squared it, before I welded it. Just soaked the table with some water and and with a fire extinguisher on hand, just tacked it up. Stayed square and gave my work bench some personality.
                    Last edited by smooth72; 02-22-2010, 01:32 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by smooth72 View Post
                      Pros I am sure would laugh at me I screwed the outside part of the frame down to my wood work bench and squared it, before I welded it. Just soaked the table with some water and and with a fire extinguisher just tacked it up. Stayed square and gave my work bench some personality.
                      I won't laugh, that's how I plan on doing mine!

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                      • #12
                        My jig was mostly wood. I wouldn't recommend mixing wood and welding on a regular basis, but I had no fire problems welding on it.

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                        • #13
                          I have caught more things on fire welding than I ever have welding, probably because my welds are bad and I have to grind so much.

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                          • #14
                            Gate

                            Very nice job on the gate. I am coming from the blacksmith side and there are very few people that are willing to pay for the hand forged artisitic approach. When we get that kind of job it is the greatest because the design is usually a one off thing that follows a client specified theme. My experience has been that most of that type of work comes through clients seeing my work and architects doing high end designs. On the other hand the gate shows an interesting design approach and demonstrates what can be done to make the cost more reasonable for a customer that wants something special bit can't afford the high end price.
                            Thanks for sharing!

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                            • #15
                              Thanks for the comments. I love the look of the true blacksmith work, I just can not do it or do I have the patients. I hope their will alway be someone out there keeping that art of blacksmith alive.

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