Making the Perfect Gate from Scrap

Reader Contribution by Kimanna Cellura-Shields
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So we built a cute little courtyard onto the “Peace of Art Café” (our first cordwood project). Now, all we needed was a gate. I knew what I envisioned, and even though I had never touched a MIG welder or plasma cutter, I couldn’t wait to get dirty!  

The truth is that about five years prior, I bought a MIG (wire-feed) welder at an auction, knowing one day I would learn how to use it. Then when I met my husband and I found out that he had two welders, I took that as a sign. For our first anniversary, we bought each other a “plasma cutter”, neither one of us had ever used one, but both of us love tools and this one had lots of potential! Visions of art projects danced through my head; my husband Mike is a mechanic by trade, so I’m pretty sure his visions were of a different nature. 

So with the initial guidance from Mike and our friend Rich Young, this project began. I have to say that I love starting a new project, because best thing to do is look around you and see what you have that you can incorporate into the project at hand. People will look at some of the things I have built or crafted and say “how did you ever come up with the idea to use that in there?” My answer is simple: I look around me and see what I already have that I can recycle; my husband is of the same mind so we have a lot of fun finding the right materials for the jobs at hand. In this case, it was a courtyard gate. This gate needed to be of a decent size, sturdy, very functional and of coarse attractive! 

First we took a measurement, then with paper and pencil in hand I drew out a design, scaled way down of course. The guys first welded a frame together using some 1 ¼ square tubing. I wanted to incorporate a big “Peace sign” in the middle, the Bottom of a 55gallon oil drum worked perfect for that. I wanted the gate to be pretty secure and strong as well, which lead to the 2″ by 1/8″ flat stock steel sun rays radiating out of the Peace sign. Next, Rich welded on the “expanded metal” (looks like heavy duty chicken wire) and that made for a great background.  

I also knew that I had the entire roof of an old ’64 F600 Ford truck at my disposal and couldn’t wait to get my hands on that plasma cutter! It was great fun cutting out those Rocky Mountains and my pattern got set aside when I realized that I wouldn’t waste a single piece if I used the last edge from the mountain that was previously cut, as a mountain, and the bottom of that mountain became the top of the next one, and so on. Cool thing was that once they were all cut out I flipped some over so that the orange (trucks interior color) mountains are in the foreground and the white (which just happened to be the trucks exterior color) became snow capped mountains, but more often than not, people mistake them for clouds. I used most of that roof, didn’t waste any at all, thanks to the creative cutting for the mountains.

The trees that I planted across the bottom were salvaged from the pie shaped pieces that were left over from the “peace sign”. I loved using every bit of the bottom of that 55 gallon drum; I found that very satisfying! 

All the mountains, peace sign and trees were cut out using the plasma cutter. I can honestly say “that tool is addicting!” It was like using an electric butter knife!  Everything else was tack welded together using the mig welder. That took a bit more patience for me to learn and here I’ll admit that I burned a few holes through the project. But thanks to our dear friend Rich, he finished it off for me and might I say “it looks marvelous!”  

Stay tuned for my next article and you’ll see what else we created from the ’64 F600  Ford truck, I promise you’ll want one of your very own!  

I would love to hear from you!!! 

 KimAnna Cellura-Shields 

“Organic Peddler” & “Peace of Art Café” 

Del Norte, Colorado