Create / Build your own Ornamental Wrought Iron Type Metal Stair Railings. (ARTICLE UNDER CONSTRUCTION)
While building our home I began researching and getting bids on wrought iron, decorative / ornamental metal railing for my stairs and balconies. The prices I was getting were unbelievable. Some bids for the stair railing and balcony ornamental railing came in at over $30,000. I began to look for alternatives and found that I could weld my own railing for a fraction of the cost. I had always wanted to learn to weld and building my own ornamental railing would give me a chance to try it out and save money. To make a long story short, I built, painted and installed my own railing for around $5,000. This price included all the equipment which I still own and use for other projects.
Before you say that you could never make your own decorative railing keep in mind that I had absolutely no experience at welding. My background is business and banking, not welding and design. All you need is the desire. It is actually quite fun. I purchased a Hobart wire feed mig welder over the internet for about $500. It is the 120V model that hooks up to a gas bottle to give you smooth welds with less splatter. Then I bought a chop saw, a side grinder, welding gloves and a welders helmet from Harbor Freight for about $200. I then began practicing welding and first built a cart for my welder. Then I built a roll around cart using casters from harbor freight and metal that I purchased from Bell Steel in Pensacola, FL. I found that welding was very simple. Especially on ornamental type work. Let me note that welding on items like trailers or machinery that will be under constant stress is more difficult and needs to meet more stringent specs. Welds on decorative ornamental metal can be a little sloppy and still be sound. Plus you can grind sloppy welds and make them look fine. The same sloppy weld on a trailer however would not be acceptable because if it failed the consequences would be greater than a weld coming loose on an ornamental panel. In other words the welding that I know how to do is simple but other types of welding are not as easy. I have a great deal of respect for welders and what they have to know.
Once I had the hang of basic welding I purchased a pallet of metal from King Metals out of Texas. The main panels for my project were premade and I used hammered type tubing for the top, bottom and side rails. I used the hammered tubing because it has a texured look instead of a smooth finish and makes the job more forgiving. The only other pieces I needed were the weld on tabs for mounting the railing and some lag bolts.
An index to more articles on this subject is below. Articles and more pictures will be added periodically.
Ornamental Rail Welding Articles
Making your own ornamental railing. -Introduction to Welding Ornamental Railing.
Making your own ornamental railing. - Practicing Welding