The gazebo has consumed my life for over a year now but it’s no time to stop now. The efforts have been paying off and lots of progress has been made. With the table built and installed the structure is at least useable. The 3 remaining items required before I can officially break a bottle of champagne on it are a set of railings, a set of steps, and some paint touch ups. So let’s get on with it shall we?
Railings are que’d up and ready to have some labour put towards them. I struggled all winter trying to come up with a unique design for the railings. I thought of some cool stuff but it seemed that almost all the ideas had a hint of “weird” to them. After viewing hundreds of images of railing designs I finally concluded that simple is sometimes the best way to go.
The official design is this. Balusters made from .5” square tubing with spacing of 4” on center and then a top row of 4” x .318” circles. The top and bottom horizontal supports will be cut from 1.250” x .065” square tubing and the horizontal divider between the balusters and the circles will be fabricated from 1.250” x .250” flat bar. The handrail will be pre fabricated pressure treated bought from the local hardware store. I chose to top it of with a wood railing simply because I wanted to tie the wood construction of the gazebo in with the railings. I drew up the design using AutoCAD so that I could calculate my material costs.
It took me awhile to decide how to deal with the 4” OD circles on the top row. Pre-fabricated circles can be purchased for the purpose of building metal railing. Purchasing the circles didn’t sit right with me for a few reasons. 1. I like to build as much I can “in house” and rely as little as possible on outside sources. I get a lot of satisfaction from taking raw materials and turning them into something. 2. I have spent lots of money on equipment which will probably never pay for itself. I feel better using the equipment, even if more time consuming, to get the results I need therefore I am able to justify their purchases. 3. I never priced out the pre-fabricated ornamental rings but I was sure I could do them myself for a fraction of the cost. I needed a total of 80 circles all .5” thick. I was able to pick of a 3.50” schedule 80 pipe which gives me a 4” OD with a .318” wall. The pipe cost me $18.00. The plan was to shave off circles using the band saw. It would take me some time to do it however if it worked out the circles would cost me 22.5 cents each. I am fairly certain I could not come close to purchasing them pre-fabbed for this amount.
So as far as progress goes I do not have much in the way of exciting to show for it. I spent the week cutting circles. The circles came out nice and even on the band saw however the edges are fairly sharp. It turns out that every circle needed a clean up on the lathe, no big deal, just more time. It took me approximately 4 ½ minutes to cut and clean up one circle. With 80 circles to complete I dedicated approximately 6 hours to the procedure. In the end I think it was well worth it. The band saw performed great and I ended up with rounder circles then the pre-fabbed ones bent from square solid bar.
With the circles complete I wanted to build one of the five sections as a prototype however I ran into a small issue. I had an uninvited guest stop in. Don’t get me wrong; even though she was uninvited she was still welcome. It turned out that a Robin decided to build a home in the gazebo. And as of the weekend she had set up permanent camp in under the shelter to sit and wait for her 4 eggs to hatch. The problem for me is that I need to get my hands on the gazebo in order to do custom fitting of all the horizontal components of the railing. Anytime I go near the structure the Robin gets scared and flies about 30 feet away and watches here nest. I do not want to disturb her until nature has run its course. So I have decided that instead of building a prototype I will spend my time in the garage cutting all the components to size and therefore complete as much of the prep work as possible. According to the almighty internet a Robins eggs take between 12 – 14 days to hatch. So it looks like I may have to put the railing project on hold for a week or two. But until then I will continue cutting balusters and railing supports.