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Hi, Guys....I've been a member for almost 15 minutes, now, and I need to get smart real quick...
I want to build a front door for my winter home in Mexico. The opening is 16' by 8' wide. I don't know what was on there originally, but it's been gone for over half a century.
I would like to have a door made from square metal tubing, with some fancy/neat scrolls. I found some nice used 1/2" x 4' metal fencing that can be bought at a good price (50 cents a pound). I think I'll make the doors 12' and have a 4' metal sun ray over the door. That's what a lot of the houses down there have.
But I really have some questions; like what size metal should I use for the door frame? How many and what type hinges? I would like to have some massive, old looking hinges.
Where can I obtain a low-cost bending jig for the scroll work? Can I make one myself?
Would it be easier, or better to construct a frame first, or weld everything up first?
Any books available that could help me?
I have a small wire-feed welder, and a small torch. and grinders, etc.
I would like to do most of the work myself. I'm not a welder, and we do have a guy that does welding in town, but he charges 12 dollars a day for his labor and welder.
Any help or input will be greatly appreciated,
jim Peterson
Gardnerville Nevada/Bacubirito Mexico

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Harbor Freight has a bender go to Harbor Freight Tools to see it. It is probably the cheapest bender for what you are doing.

It would take writing a book to answer all the questions that you have asked. Making a metal gate/door is not a beginner's project. Gates/doors made of metal tend to sag, so you will have to compensate for that during construction.

I suggest taking an introductory blacksmithing course and start small and work up to the project that you described.

Also, this forum mainly concentrates on hot-forged iron, which means that we heat iron up till it becomes plastic and hammer it into shapes. So to get folks on this forum excited about your project, adding some hot forged decorations may be the key.

Edited by UnicornForge
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Welcome aboard Jim, glad to have you.

I'd say you spent your first 15 mins writing. Well, that's a good thing, there's few things better than a good question and you laid a number of them on us. ;)

Like Dave says there's a lot to building a door or gate and getting it right, especially one the size you want. That's a lot of force on the hinges and a lot of sag to compensate for up front.

The HF bender will work for simple scrolls and such.

I don't know if your little mig is powerful enough to make safe welds to deal with the stresses the joins will have on them.

Being Mexico $12 a day is considerable but if he's a quality welder with good equipment it may be well worth the price. However if he's running something 40years old and using paper wrapped coat hangers for welding rod I'd pass. (Yes, you can arc weld with paper wrapped coat hangers though it's hard to get it passed by inspection)

If you'll click "User CP" at the top of the page and edit your profile to show your location it can help. IFI is represented by members in more than 50 countries and a lot of info is location specific. Maybe more importantly, if local folk know where you are and what you're looking for you might discover a neighbor willing to do it for reasonable or trade.


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Hi, Guys....I thank you guys for the time you gave me, but I really didn't receive much help. I have spent over 30 years of my young life down in Sinaloa, and Durango, chasing gold and silver. I've mined 100 miles from the nearest city, and had to manufacture a lotta things needed in the mine. I have managed to get most of the jobs done, but it took a positive attitude. And I'll tell you what: if I can't build a simple steel door, I'll let you draw a crowd first.
Thanks again,
jim Peterson

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You didn't tell us you were an experienced weldor fabricator. And yes, I count self taught, down in the dirt, make do with nothing as experienced.

Do you want it to be a single leaf or double leaf? Being taller than wide makes it easier to control the sag and a third hinge might be a good call.

Making a scrolling jig is pretty easy. Simply make a scroll you like, then heat it orange hot and pull the center up so the whole scroll is exposed. You don't want it looking like a spring, just lifted enough you can wrap steel strap around it without hitting where you don't want it to.

Then you take your heated steel, clamp it to the center of the scroll jig and wrap it around and down till you have as much scrolled as you want. Slip it off and flatten it back down.

Some imaginative use of decorative elements can provide all the reinforcing and stiffness your door will need, a sun ray theme is perfect as diagonals make the ideal the stiffeners.

It's hard to say what the right size frame stock should be it depends on the weight of the decorations more than it's size. So once you have an idea how you want to decorate it and what materials you're going to use it'll be easier to determine the right frame stock.

For instance if it's a solid door it'll be much heavier than one with a screen and need a heavier frame. Not as much stronger as you might think though because the material making it solid will have strength of it's own.

Anyway, it's a more complicated question and solution than it appears at first. Lets talk about what you want specifically and we'll be better able to advise you on how to do it.

Just a little traipse down memory lane Ken, that's all it is. Just remember to burn the plastic coating of those modern coat hangers. ;)


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