Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Good Gate...

     is inviting and offers security.  It is a point on a horizon, a statement on the road and says, "yes, you have found me."  It is welcoming and foreboding, enter or not.  It should not be a continuation of a fence line, but a single entity, a point of arrival.
    There is no mystery about building a good gate and no matter the design, it always begins with the gate posts.  These are the stanchions, the boundaries of the gate, not the end of the fence line.  They will be holding a lot of weight and need to be bigger, stronger and well placed in concrete.  I normally use 6" x 6"
steel posts and rent a boring machine to dig a 30" diameter hole about three and a half feet deep.  This will hold about one cubic yard of concrete and offers total stability for the gate post.
   A good gate is not a framed fence panel.  One test of a good gate is to stand on it on the side opposite the hinge, at the end of the gate.  A 200 pound man should not be able to lower the gate in this fashion.  It is the strength in design that prevents this.  The decorative elements in a gate are carefully placed there with purpose.  They are not the whim of an artist, they have a function.  They triangulate the gate frame itself, creating a truss within the gate to add strength and stability.  Some modern gates eliminate this artistic strength and replace their function by simply adding cross bars, crossing the gate with an "X" in steel.  I admit this works but it is always disappointing.
 A country gate with truss system along the top arch
and across the bottom, on 6" x 6" steel posts.
 Sweet Cheeks Winery Entry Gate with gusset added to the hinge side and a top trussed arch fortified with a vine motif. The copper panels offer a touch of drama and color.
     The Romans invented the arch and it is well used in a gate, offering greater strength and, if carefully manipulated, a truss system along the top.
     Operating systems for gates have become sophisticated and complex and are a trade within itself. There are dozens of different manufacturers and abilities to these.  And, a lot of price variation!  My experience, like everything, you get what you pay for!  A really good hassle-free system can cost over $5,000.  It is a different trade entirely and I don't do these (but I know those who do!).
    The gates I make do not come from a catalogue but are thought out and artistically designed with the customer and the site in mind.  Each gate is one of a kind.  I have never built the same one twice.
There are more photos of my work HERE.


Maundering mutterer said...

The gorgeousness of gates! I've never seen such lovely ones as the ones you make! I visited a friend who had burglar bars in the shape of vines and leaves - handmade, unique. I was about to say 'I've never seen anything like that!' but thanks to you, I have. Who says functional things can't be artistic?

Kay said...

function, form and beauty all working together..wonderful

PAMO said...
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Clipped Wings said...

Like being an artist and scientist all wrapped up in one. Beautiful work.

AutumnLeaves said...

Jerry your work is truly the most beautiful I've ever seen. I am just awed at your craftsmanship. If I can, I just may one day ask you to make a small little gate for me...