Steel gate design isn't rocket science. Bernard Preston isn't a particularly technically minded person, but he's astonished how any person really with a tape measure and a bit of savvy can turn his hand to carpentry and odd jobs requiring welding, for example.
But first, if you are going to be welding you absolutely must have a trestle table. As a chiropractor I myself had to learn the hard way that welding on hands and knees is to be avoided at all costs; the resulting slipped disc in the lower back was the beginning of my femoral nerve injury.
First make a trestle table before a welding machine.
To make steel fence house gates that look really neat and professional is indeed a bit of an art. If you need only one, then I'd get them made by a local welder.
The first gate that I'm going to teach you to make will look rather like the house that Jack built; a bit crude, but it will work, I promise. And cost a small fraction of what you will pay for otherwise, especially if you have some offcuts lying around or can buy some scrap for a song.
You will need a length of round bar, about 10mm in diameter, the height of your gate. You could use the same for the bolt but I'd recommend a little thinner, say 8mm.
Then you will need some angle iron for the remainder of the frame.
Some flat iron to support the bolt, just a short length, you quite likely have lying about.
Two more requirements are two short lengths of steel tubing, just larger than your round bar, and a length of threaded rod, and four nuts for your steel gate hinges. Throw in some paint and you're done.
Oh, yes, there is one more thing you will need; a free, uninterrupted morning to make it from start to finish; steel gates aren't rocket science.
There's nothing intrinsically dangerous about welding; just follow the basic rules of using the machine tools. In particular take your time, don't rush and stop when you're tired. Two things to be careful of are grabbing the steel where you've just welded; you can get a serious burn; and when chipping out the weld flux make sure you have eye protection.
Could you use these bits and pieces to design and weld a steel gate; yes, sirree! If I can, then so can you; I'm a hacker, but you'd be surprised what I've made over the years, all with no training.
If you have one of those old oil filled welding machines, then do yourself a favour; take it to the auction. I was surprised how much I got for mine. In making your steel gate design, these new fangled inverter welders are a huge step forward.
Firstly they weigh about a third; just half a dozen visits to the chiropractor that might be needed after lifting that oil filled machine will pay for for your new welder; a lot less pain too. Plus they are far easier for the hacker to use; partly because you can so easily change the voltage, and secondly because it's just more simple with direct current.
And then dump that old helmut and get one of the new auto darkening jobs; it will make your life so much easier.
Just three or four odd jobs around the home like this steel gate design in the chicken run will pay off the investment, and then you have a welding machine for the rest of your life.
Steel gate design, a cutoff saw and a welding machine is all you need; and a tape measure. Oh, yes, and a drill press; I was lucky enough to get this beauty from a deceased estate; make sure you use ear muffs, or start to budget for hearing aids.
Purchase new steel or rummage around in a scrap yard for a quarter of the price; perhaps even less. In South Africa, scrap steel is very cheap. We'll weigh the gate at the end and see what it cost in materials.
I'm building this steel gate for our chicken run; we're enchanted by free range hens, and the proper eggs they lay, as the English call them, but the birds will shred your veggie garden.
So I'm fencing off an area of our large garden that is currently unused, and we'll need this steel gate design.
First, let's take a look at the various features of a professionally made gate; yours won't be as pretty as this, but it will work just as well.
As you can see I have three of these; they are quite expensive which is why I've decided to start making my own.
There are four features here to take note of.
Firstly, arrowed in the top left corner is the collar welded onto a piece of threaded rod; by adjusting the nuts you can affect the gap and make sure the bolt easily slides into the hole drilled in the pole.
Secondly, that bolt which is used as a simple latch.
Incidentally, do you see that water tank on the right; it's thirty-five years old, and made from fibreglass. I don't like the plastic tanks; they don't last.
Thirdly, not easily seen here is small collar welded onto the gate itself, stopping it from dropping to the ground.
And lastly, there's that little rectangular bar to stop a dog or rabbit lifting the gate too high.
This is a beautiful, simple steel gate design; hot dipped and galvanised it would last for a century. We are just going to use some rust resistant paint.
On a small gate, say a metre high, you perhaps wouldn't need that cross bar; it would be simple to add it on afterwards if you wanted.
Notice in particular the small collar welded onto the round bar to stop it dropping down too far. It needs to be placed carefully so the gate isn't too high or low; the other variable of course is where you drill the holes in the pole.
As you can see there's nothing difficult about this; simply because I have it on hand, I'm going to use a solid bar for the gate instead of tubing. This is all going to be made of scrap steel.
Today we'll make the first collar; that's where you start.
Here are the hinges; they weren't difficult. That threaded rod will go through the gate post; the nuts make it adjustable and are very important; any movement of the post and the bolt won't slide into the other post.
These measurements aren't critical; about 150mm square; make sure that bolt is long enough so it can't fall out the latch.
Making the steel gate design latch is very basic; just make sure you slide the bolt in place before you weld it; take note of the basic structure on the professional gate above.
Then weld it onto your frame, first drilling the hole for the bolt using the drill press.
Now to attach wire and hang our steel gate.
By the way, notice that steel collar welded onto the round bar; it's marked with a yellow arrow in the image above. It stops the gate dropping down to ground level.
Using some old mesh, our steel gate design is complete and hung. The fence posts, and strainers are up, and now all we need is a fence; then the hens will have a new run in which to feed, and we can rotate them between four areas.
There's a beautiful synergy of green living; this new chicken run is away from the bees; there's always considerable anxiety when harvesting the honey that the African Killer Bees will go berserk and kill the hens; it came close once before. Now the hens will be safe in this new area when I'm busy with the bees.
This page is a work in progress. In a week or so when the fence is up, I'll show you the complete paddock, hens and all.
Oh, dear, I forgot to weigh the gate to work out the cost of the scrap steel; all this, bar the threaded rod and four nuts, was sourced from my junk heap.
So, finally the new paddock for the hens is complete; it took a morning, with the help of a friend, to complete the fence. There are now four of these areas in total. I can now plant winter peas without fears that the birds will root up every emerging seedling.
Probably the most dangerous thing an American will do today is taking some medication; iatrogenic disease is the third most common killer. The most dangerous activity a South African will do is get into a motor car. Both kill and maim many thousands of people for life.
Welding is a lot safer than either, but not entirely safe, of course. There are three issues to consider:
That's it from steel gate design.
So, now your steel gate design and manufacture is complete; all you need is a vegetable garden fence! A gate with no fence ain't much good!