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Large scroll work on gate tops?


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I have been building gates and railings for years but I am considering the challenge of doing a large scroll work for the top of a gate. Probably 2" x 2" stock. I have a tube bender, tubing roller,  and have cut tubing in multiple sections and welded it back together for sharp curves but that is different  (I think) then what I have seen in the old scroll top driveway gates. I used to have a forge and have purchased a new one (should have it soon), but am not all that good with forging. Done small scrolls, flowers, twitted pickets, but never over 1/2". 

Any ideas?

I have heard of using sand to fill the tubing, but for a large bend that sounds difficult. 

 

Thanks for what help can be provided.

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Sounds like you are more into fabricating tubular stock than forging solid stock.

I've done 1-1/2" solid square stock hot and forged on the diamond for a sweep railing. Three pieces. Top cap rail, middle and bottom stringers by myself. The landing was ~6' rise.

So it can be done hot. Lol, it's a daunting task and not for the faint of heart or those with little experience.

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You are right mostly I have done tube steel. I have always liked forging and forging is what got me into the gate business to begin with, I just don't have a lot of experience in large forging. 6' sounds crazy to me, so hats off to you. 

I have been looking at Pinterest and seen some gates that had large scroll work out of what looked like 2 x 2 stock. I just can't figure out how they did it. I have done some fairly crazy gate tops but nothing that looked so smooth and I don't see it being solid stock (but maybe). 

 

Thanks for responding

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Welcome aboard Charlie, glad to have you. There are lots of ways to bend square tubing but you need the equipment or time and plan.

Were it heavy walled round it'd be easier, lace a cable through it and pull it over a mandrel with sufficient power, 2" rnd would want a dozer and a stout tree. You can do it in the shop but you need some serious hardware, a pickup truck winch would require multiple snatch blocks and a seriously anchored mandrel. Doing scrolls requires a progressive series of mandrels with multiple set ups and pulls. 

I've thought about trying the same trick with square tubing but it'd require something like drive chain that filled the inside of the tubing, cable would turn it into a pour spout shape.

Another technique is to make saw cuts from the inside of the curve through the sides and stop at the outside face of the tubing, bend closed and weld. I've done this but it's a major job of work making any sort of curve by reducing the ID 1/32" +/- per cut/weld. 

Filling it with sand is maybe the best home shop method I know of and if you have rolls probably even practical. 

However scrolling solid stock is a matter of: a fire, bending fork and wrench. Sure, 2" solid square would require a serious jig or bending forks. In my yard I'd bury large bar or tube stock in the shop yard because I have the room. The bending wrench could have a mighty long cheater, 6'-8' would probably do it even at red heat. 

If I determined that the gate couldn't bear the weight and the customer was set on that scale scroll and willing to pay I'd have it done at a commercial shop if I had to have it shipped. OR pay me time and materials to do the: slit, weld and grind, method.

Frosty The Lucky.

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Thanks Frosty, sounds like you have done it all. I have done most and agree that the cutting and welding is a lot of work but has been my go to when the tube roller starts to deform the steal because of to much bend. I think I have seen shops plasma cut the scroll work and then weld in the rest with flat stock but again a lot of work. 

 

Thanks again for putting all the ways out there. I was hoping there was an easier way but it looks like there isn't. I guess if there was everyone would make them. 

 

Enjoy

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Naw, I've hardly done it all though I've done a lot of it. Bending square or rectangular tubing is one of the toughest least worth it things I've tried. There are machines to do this stuff but we're talking million $ rigs a person would have to have a lot of work to pay for. 

Have you tried filling square with sand and running it through the rolls? That could work and be worth a try. You don't need to heat it but still want to leave a LITTLE unwelded spot on a corner at either end. Use alluvial sand NOT crushed. Crushed sand is angular and keys together so it doesn't slip past itself. Alluvial sand is rounded and smothish and slips past itself easily, you know the stuff it's so easy to get stuck in?

Bending solid stock only sounds hard, it isn't really. 

What was the thought behind using tubing, weight? 

Frosty The Lucky.

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On my sweep, the treads turned 90*, the bottom tread was 6' long, the landing opening was 4'. Thus an ever changing radius, like a sea shell, not your normal winder.

My setup for bending heavy solid stock is that my post vice is buried 4' into the ground. Then, get it hot! And bend with proper sized bending forks and scrolling wrench. I use an appropriate cheater over the handle of the scrolling wrench.

More setup tips.

Use adjustable roller type stands,,, as many as possible and have more than needed. You will need them. A 3' dia scroll takes ~ 9+' stock. 

Keep everything in plane as close as possible. It's far easier to slide/move in the horizontal plane from forge to post vice/power hammer/anvil than to move even a few inches in the vertical.

More than once, I forge smaller easier to handle pieces, draw them out and scroll them, then forgeweld them together. My largest was a number of hand rails for a school. The scrolled ends were forged and scrolls turned, then forge welded onto the straight run. If you need, I can give you my setup for mig welding instead of forge welding and make the mig tracks disappear.

If you got into gates to do forging, well, congrats, here you are with the mother of all! You should have seen my first! 

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Most folks I know of fill hollow square and round tubing with rounded sand as Frosty mentioned.  CAUTION!...if for some reason you have to heat any sealed tubing to keep the sand in place, provide an adequate vent hole at each end to vent steam.  Yes, even dry sand contains moisture and heating can create a "steam bomb" if not vented on both ends!

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Wow, thanks for all the ideas!!!

 I hope to unpack the forge tomorrow and possible try some of these ideas in the next couple of weeks. It is funny that I have been building gates and railings for years and have created some equipment and machines to make it easier but never really did much forging. I guess it is because of the time factor to learn. I did what I know and kind of stuck with it. Now as a teacher of welding I have more time to play and am getting equipment that I would never have bought on my own. It is fun and I love hammering steal. Mostly we have been doing cold forging, making scrolls, roses, and twisting bar stock, but with a forge I hope to really take it to the next level. Any suggestions to further my education on forging (you tube)? The youth just finished a bench and are starting on another tomorrow. We cold forged the arms with some of the dies I have made, but it was real work.  

 

Thanks again, I wish I could see some of the ideas you are discussing. 

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  • 3 months later...

If you are more geared twords fabricating work anyway, have the scrolls plasma cut from plate and weld up with flat bar to build a tube in the scroll shape. You likely are already equipped for this.

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