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Installing an interior railing

I recently installed an interior railing in partnership with Iron Horse Metalworks. This was a simple railing, with 5/8″ round pickets glued into the treads and 1 1/4″ round posts. Whenever we do a railing like this with no bottom rail, we like to erect the cap rails and posts first, and then TIG weld in all the pickets individually.

TIG welding a railing inside a house

This allows us to have a good layout that matches the stairs well and a very clean finished product. offset curve in a metal railing

The offset around the second story floor is as common situation in interior rails. Code requires the railing to be continuous from landing to landing, so the railing must be connected even when there are walls in the way. I like to use gentle curves to do this when possible, as it looks nicer and is less likely to be a hip bruiser.

up easing in a custom metal railingiron railing with up easing The corner turn is a nice detail, as it also incorporates an up easing to match the elevation change of the stairs. Again, gentle curves are used to make the transition.

lambstongue termination on railing

The bottom features a hand forged lambstongue. We never use the cheap cast terminals, we always make a cap rail termination that works with the style of the house.

Custom steel doors

I installed this pair of steel and glass doors inside Maison recently, where they divide the front of the shop from the workroom.

interior steel doorsfor a business

They feature self closing arms to keep them shut, custom door pulls, and laminate glass. Since they are interior doors they don’t have some features like weatherstripping or a threshold.

custom door pulls on this steel door

In this picture the custom pulls are shown, made from solid steel bar. These pulls are simple and modern, and are meant to be minimal and not detract from the uncluttered lines of the door.

These steel doors can be made in almost any configuration, any number of lights, and almost any size. They can be painted or powdercoated, they can be exterior or interior. They can have single pane or double pane glass. They can utilize mortise locks and traditional door hardware, closers, or simple pulls like these. They work equally well in a residential or business setting.

Making a sign for a new business

 

I installed this sign a couple of days ago. It was designed and made for a new home decor shop in Mountain Brook, AL. It is a simple design featuring raised white letters on a black field.

Handmade, custom metal sign with raised letters

A clean angle iron frame surrounds the cut out sign and is bolted off to the existing ironwork on the building. This is a more contemporary look – it is of course possible to make a complicated, more interesting and decorative bracket. But for this storefront, understatement was the name of the game.

custom metal blade sign on boutique home store

 

Inside this boutique home decor store are two doors I made, as well as some custom demilunes. I can’t wait to see the brown paper come down and this store open its doors!

custom made metal sign for storefront

 

 

Custom furniture: End table 

Handmade end table with riveted legs.

This simple end table was made without welding of any kind. The top and bottom are plate steel, and the connections are all riveted.  All materials are mild steel, with a clear satin finish. 

Riveted leg holding together this custom table.

This shot shows how the leg passes through a hole in the top and is riveted over. This joint is strong and beautiful, not requiring grinding or dressing as would a welded joint. In this way the honestly expressed joinery becomes an essential element of the design. 

Custom end table with metal top

In designing a piece of custom furniture, the goal is to produce work that is functional, beautiful, and original. To that end, I am constantly producing work like this to explore new ideas. Any of the ideas on these pages can be expanded or explored further in new designs. 

Custom Furniture: Demi-lune 

A custom, handmade accent table.

This demi-lune table was made for a designer here in Birmingham. It is made from fabricated mild steel with a black lacquer finish. 

A custom table with a metal top. This style of table is perfect to go against a wall in a high traffic area or a space where people congregate. 

A banded top on a custom table.

This particular table features a plate steel top with banded edges. The satin black lacquer gives the piece a sophisticated low lustre finish. 

Restoring an old post vise

This small post vise was in need of a little attention. It obviously hasn’t been used in quite some time. It was covered in heavy rust and was not working properly.
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For anyone not familiar with this tool, a post vise is a blacksmith’s tool, used to hold hot metal or tooling. It is identified by the leg or “post” that extends to the ground, helping to support the force of heavy blows and other abuse. They were forged from wrought iron, and were much stronger and more durable than cast iron vises.
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The first step in restoring this tool to working order was to completely disassemble it. In clockwise order from the top, the parts are: the screw box, washers, pivot jaw, spring, the post jaw, the retaining clip, the mounting plate, the reading clamp wedges, and the screw and handle.
Once apart, all pieces were gently cleaned with a brass brush and detergent. I could have used something more aggressive and really removed all of the rust, but I like the old patinated surface as long as it’s not interfering with the functionality of the tool.
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After cleaning, I oiled all the parts with machine oil and greased the screw box and the pivot area. All the parts were then reassembled. The vise is now fully functional, and so I mounted it on a post secured to the floor in our forge area. It’s a welcome addition, as you can never have too many vises.

First railing install in the new shop

 

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Custom iron railing

Today we finished installing a new railing on a patio addition. This is a simple design, but it does have some nice details, like a heavy beveled caprail and forged lambstongue ends.

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The rail was made of all solid steel bar and TIG welded together. The 1″ square solid posts were set into holes coredrilled into the bluestone patio. It is one continuous run over approximately 55 linear feet.

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The curved section was the most challenging part to fabricate, as the top and bottom rails all had to be heated in the forge and bent on a radius jig.

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Shown here are a lambstongue end and a up easing, or gooseneck, both typical features on a stair railing.

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This job turned out looking nice and fitting well. The design doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated, good execution looks good regardless.

New Beginning

After years of managing an ornamental metal shop owned by someone else, I finally have my own shop. I’ve partnered with the guys at Iron Horse Metalworks and we are sharing a building in Avondale.20170517_152914.jpg

It’s not huge, about 3200 sq. feet, but its got a brand new concrete floor, new metal roof,  and new electrical. It also has an overhead track for a chain hoist, which is my new favorite thing. In the above picture, we’ve basically just unloaded all the tools and supplies into a pile in the middle of the floor, but have since gotten things a bit more under control.
As of June 1st, 2017, we are officially open for business. We have a few jobs to work on right now, but are always looking for more work. If you need a piece of custom furniture or are building a new house and need railings, a stove hood, or any decorative metal work, please get in touch with us! We are looking forward to serving the greater Birmingham area.