So with the metal art project officially completed it was time to move onto and address some of my own projects that have been getting neglected. First order of business involves making some progress on my outdoor fireplace. I purchased a Heat N Glo Montana outdoor wood burning fireplace about 4 years ago. The fireplace itself is only comprised of the firebox and therefore the surround needs to be created. Last year I actually made a bit of progress and built the steel base for it and then framed up the basic structure. I got so far as to get the unit mounted and installed onto by stone patio. Once I got that far it ended up getting wrapped up in a blue tarp and that is how it sat for the winter.
Well this is the year when this project will see completion. There are no plans for me to follow in regards to building the surround. I have read the installation manual for the fireplace 6+ times to ensure that I understand all the building and safety codes involved. I then proceeded to design my own unit. Part of my design involves building a steel pergola type structure that will hang off the front of the fireplace chimney section. The idea is to simply give the structure a slightly different feel by adding another dimension and building material.
I sat down and AutoCAD’d a basic design. I used the dimensions of the fireplace to base the size, and angles, of the pergola in order to keep things looking proportional. So with the plan in hand it was off to the metal yard to pick up some flat bar and cold rolled steel.
In order to ensure that everything was built evenly I opted to trace out the exact template onto an old garage door. Since the project would involve multiple bends I would be able to compare the arcs I put into the metal to the template. Next I dragged my homemade metal bender out from the corner and proceeded to run a 7 foot length of 5”x 3/16” flat bar through it. The bending was easy and I had no issues creating an arc to match my template.
Next it was off to the band saw where the 30 degree angle was set and a set of 8 support arms where trimmed up. The arms were all cut from 4” x 1/8” flat bar. I would be lying if I said I cut them all to perfect length the first time. Because I was dealing with an arc; 4 pairs of the 8 arms needed to be cut at different lengths. Welding a scrap straight bar onto the 2 outer arms helped me to be able to cut the remaining arms to length.
Next it was time to start rolling some 5/8” cold rolled solid round bar. I was incorporating 3 arcs all on a different radius therefore as I needed to roll each arc tighter as I moved towards the center. I was fairly impressed with myself and my ability to get all the arcs bent as close to perfect as possible especially when using a manual machine.
Next all the previously built support arms had 5/8” holes drilled through them in order to allow me to thread the cold rolled round bar through their centers. I suspect I spent close to 2 ½ hours rough assembling the structure and clamping it in order to prepare it for welding. It was crucial that all the dimensions were set precisely as the purpose of the pergola was purely visual. I often find myself eyeing up structures and construction everywhere I go to see if they were built square, straight and even. It’s important that I know, in my own mind, that the pergola is symmetrical and spaced evenly. When the sun is perpendicular to the structure I want to see my shadow lines hit the ground evenly.
So with the final support plate fabricated and drilled and with the unit structure clamped down it was time to start pouring on the molten metal and hope the pergola doesn’t twist itself up from the heat. Between the Silver Beauty MIG and Miller TIG the welding was completed in an evening and the structure suffered no noticeable warps.
Another couple hours were then spent getting the unit ready for paint. The Silver Beauty MIG really throws down the splatter and so time was spend removing all the little weld marks. Everything was either ground or sanded smooth. The edges and corners all got their sharp edges taken off and then prepped for paint.
Next I moved onto the previously wood framed upper portion of the fireplace surround. The steel pergola was going to get bolted to the top section. Using some scrap 2 ½” angle iron I had in the shop I cut and drilled out some bracing for all the front vertical studs. The idea is to bolt the pergola on using ½” hardware. I confirmed everything was going to work by bolting up the pergola to the chimney frame.
Next, and final step, was to get some paint on the unit. I set up the pergola in the homemade paint booth and bolted it to the chimney section thinking this would be the best way to prime it. Turned out the angles were all wrong and I couldn’t get the paint gun in some of the tight spots. I opted to just lay the pergola down on the lumber frame and use the frame as a bench. Since the frame would never be visible the overspray didn’t much matter. Using my Iwata HVLP gun I laid down 2 medium coats of primer. The top coat was going to be a flat black. My local paint supplier sold me a flat black kit made by SEM. The kit comes with the paint, reducer, and activator and was exactly what I was looking for. With 2 top coats sprayed on it confirmed that the flat black texture was what I was going for.
So with the pergola section designed, fabricated, and finished I can now focus my attention to the fireplace outdoors. It’ll be time to pull out the wood working tools and start ripping sheets and pounding nails.