If you want to add a small feature to your garden that will integrate nature with modern manufacturing, a garden archway might be perfect. You can fabricate a stunning unit from steel tube that will be a little different to the usual kind. Everybody is used to seeing wooden arches, but a feature coated with reflective chrome might be the futuristic touch that your garden needs.
Photo credit: Jocelyn Kinghorn
It might be the first time you have attempted to weld metal, but don’t panic; what is the worst that can happen? You might waste some metal, but you will get there in the end. Here is how to design and build your metal archway.
You will need the following:
✣ Tig Welder
✣ Conduit Bender
✣ Angle Grinder
✣ 20mm Hole Saw
The only material you need for this project is some lengths of 20mm steel conduit which you will find in your local electrical wholesalers.
The archway is simple to design. There will be four uprights with two arches attached to them. Then you must weld crosspieces to join the two sections together. When you are confident, you can even decorate it with metal flowers if you like. Cut the petals out of steel and weld them to a rod that acts as a stalk. The only limit is your imagination.
Any professional welder will tell you that high-quality welding helmets from Lincoln Electric are vital pieces of safety equipment to use. You can’t put a price on your eyesight, so never attempt to weld without protection.
Wear proper welding gloves too, or the result will be disastrous for you.
The arch pieces are the most difficult to fabricate. You must familiarise yourself with the pipe bender first. Create the curve by making many little bends in the conduit until you form the correct shape. Expect to waste a few lengths of steel before you get it right, but persevere, and you will get there.
You must weld the uprights onto the ends of the arches. It is best to do it on the floor. You might find the welding process daunting to begin with, but after much practice you will relax and enjoy it.
A Tig welder uses an electric current to create an arc that melts the metal. It is unlike MIG welding because it uses a tungsten electrode that the weld does not consume. You can add material to the weld pool using separate rods, but they are not used to create an arc. Both methods use an inert gas to shield the weld and prevent contamination from the atmosphere.
Do not use a filler material on these welds because the arch won’t need to support much weight. Make your first arc and weld the pieces together. You might be frustrated to begin with, but practice makes perfect.
When the front and back pieces are ready, you must weld the cross pieces in to complete the structure. Use the 20mm hole saw to shape the ends of those pieces so that everything fits together with no gaps, then weld them in place.
Send your creation away to receive a high-quality chrome finish. The experts clean the steel with chemicals and then electroplate it. When you get your feature back, it should look bright and reflective.
Your archway will glisten in the sun and be a subtle reminder that we live in the 21st century, even if the garden is traditional. The little things add to the overall effect of garden design.