Steel Balustrade Railing Restoration

 

Steel railing restored to its original condition

Steel railing restored to its original condition

This steel balustrade railing had suffered from severe corrosion resulting in many sections of the design being lost making it look unsightly and in need of restoration.

Before the restoration could start custom bending jigs needed to be made so the new sections of the missing design could be fabricated. The new parts and sections were made in 25x3mm flat steel to match the existing design. The corroded sections were cut out of the balustrade railing and the new sections welded into place to complete the restoration.

Damaged section of the steel railing

Damaged section of the steel railing balustrade before restoration.

Arched Window Louvre Shutters

Arched window shutters

Arched window shutters

An upstairs verandah in a Sydney terrace had a bare brick opening in its side wall which the owner decided needed some louvre shutters. The owner had some discarded louvre doors available and we were approached to see if they could be recycled and used to make a set of louvre shutters for the wall opening.

The louvre doors were cut to size and fitted with arch sections which matched a timber frame that was built to fit inside the wall opening. Once the window frame had been painted it was fitted into the wall opening and fixed in position with black epoxy filler. Epoxy was used because the wall opening was not square and the arched top not a perfect circle arc resulting in clearance variations between the bricks and the wooden window frame.

As can be seen from the photo below the addition of the decorative window shutters was a major improvement to the overall look of the home.

Original opening in the upstairs verandah wall

Original opening in the upstairs verandah wall

Verandah view of window shutters

View of the window shutters from the verandah

Garden Armillary Rock Feature

Completed garden armillary rock feature

Completed garden armillary rock feature with pebble infill


This garden armillary rock feature was designed to mount a polished stainless steel armillary sphere which would be the focal point for the front garden at the Wollemia Urology Centre in North Gosford. A selection of natural rocks were sorted by size and colour, prior to construction, and fitted together according to their unique size and shape. When the basic shape was achieved the rocks were concreted into position.

A stainless steel support armature was made and aligned into a central hole in the garden armillary rock feature with a plywood frame. Stainless steel was chosen to eliminate the corrosion problems within the concrete over time. The hole was filled with concrete fixing the frame in position.

Next, the stainless steel frame was clad in rocks which were cemented in position until the centre plinth was created. The only rock cutting required for the whole feature was at the very top where the armillary was going to attach.

The inside of the garden armillary rock feature was filled with concrete to give it additional stability and also to give a solid base for some decorative white pebbles which would cover the area inside the base. The concrete will also eliminate any weeds growing up through the pebbles. A small hole at the front allows any accumulated water to drain away to the garden.

The polished steel armillary sphere was then bolted into position on the top of the plinth. Details of the armillary sphere can be found here.

Concreting rocks into the basic shape of the rock feature

Concreting rocks into the basic shape of the rock feature

Preparing to concrete the armillary support frame into position

Preparing to concrete the armillary support frame into position

Armillary support frame concreted into position

Armillary support frame concreted into position

Support frame being clad in rocks

Support frame being clad in rocks

Filled with concrete to prevent weed growth through the white pebble fill

Filled with concrete to prevent weed growth through the white pebble fill

Completed garden rock feature

Completed rock feature ready for cleaning and filling with white pebbles

Cabinet Sides and Assembly

Temporary assembly

Temporary assembly with staples to mark out dowel joints


Carrying on from the previous post on the cabinet construction the side panels were cut in a jig so they matched the bevel on the curved front panel. Once they were completed the top, bottom and intermediate shelves were cut with a radius that matched the inside radius of the front panel.

The completed parts of the cabinet were assembled in the original moulding form and held together with staples so the position of all the dowel joints could be determined. The cabinet was then disassembled and the holes for the dowels drilled. Since none of the joints were 90 degrees a special drilling jig was made so the holes could be drilled at 77 degrees.

Once all the dowel holes were drilled the parts were glued and pushed together. This proved a difficult task because of the tapered sides. Nothing could be pushed in squarely and, because of the angle of the sides, it was difficult to apply a force in the required direction for the joints to close. Eventually everything came together and the frame could be clamped and left to dry.

The above steps are illustrated below.

Making the sides

Side panel ready for routing using the front panel template.

Routed side panel

Side panel after routing the 45 degree edge to match the front panel.

Cutting the curved top, bottom and shelf panels

Cutting the curved top, bottom and shelf panels with a router

Drilling dowel holes

Drilling dowel holes with a 77 degree drill jig

Aligning drill jig

Looking down the drill guide to align it with the mark for the dowel position

Cabinet panels drilled and dowelled

Cabinet panels drilled and dowelled ready for assembly.

Assembling the cabinet frame

Assembling the cabinet frame

Cabinet frame clamped

Clamped and glued cabinet frame

Once the glue has dried the drawers need to be made along with the top splash board and back panel. The next cabinet post will deal with these items and the fitting of the handles, legs and marble top and splash board. The completed side cupboard can be seen on this page.

Cabinet Door Cutting

Completed door section fitted with hinges

Completed door sections fitted to the centre support with hinges to keep them aligned.


After cutting the shape of the cabinet front panel the side edges now need to be mitred to 45 degrees. This allows the sides to fit squarely and hide the end grain of the front panel doors.

The curved panel remains on its support frame to hold it parallel to the horizontal. A jig is built around the panel to provides a flat surface along its side edges so a router can be used to make the mitre. A template is made of each side curve and this is attached to the jig to guide the router along the edge.

Care needs to be taken because a wrong cut now will render the curved panel useless requiring another to be made. This would be a very unpleasant task to undertake at this point of construction.

The steps involved in completing the front doors of the cabinet are illustrated below.

Cut cabinet door

Cabinet front panel cut to shape on the bandsaw. A 45 degree edge now needs to be cut.

Making curve template

Tracing the curve of the cabinet front to make a router guide to cut the 45 degree edge.

Routing jig

The routing jig built around the front panel to form a flat along the side edges for the router to move along.

Routing the cabinet front edges

The curve template is attached to the jig frame and the router is ready to make the cut

Completed routed edge

View along the front panel edge showing the completed 45 degree cut

Cutting the doors and drawer fronts

Cutting the door and drawer sections with a jigsaw

The two sides now need to be cut to match the front panel curves. The router guide used for the 45 degree cut on the front panel will be used in another jig so the cuts will match. The next post will illustrate the making of the sides and assembly of the cabinet frame.

Curved Cabinet Doors

Custom side cabinet design

3D rendering of custom side cabinet design


There are several steps required to make the curved cabinet doors required for the custom design shown on the right. What complicates this design is that the curved doors are also tapered. This makes the join line between the sides of the cabinet and the curved doors non-linear. The join line is further complicated because it needs to taper in to hide the end grain of the sides and the doors.

The first step is to make a curved panel that can be cut to the required shape. The only way to make this is to make a form that has the same radius as the door, and laminate several sheets of 3 ply together inside the form.

The glued sandwich of plywood is placed into the form and clamped in place with heavy weights until the laminate dries. When the panel is removed it is the same shape as the form.

The following photos illustrate the steps involved in making the curved cabinet doors panel.

Bottom form frame

Completed bottom form section with the required radius ready for cladding

Framework for upper form section

Completed framework for upper form section ready for cladding

Form frames covered in plywood

Form frames covered in plywood

Upper and lower form sections

Completed laminating form.

Glueing laminates

Applying glue to both faces of the plywood sheets with a roller prior to placing them in the form

Ply sandwich in weighted form

Five glued plywood sheets clamped into the form and weighed down with 700kg of pavers

curved panel

The completed laminated curved panel for the front of the side cabinet after removal from the form

Routing the jig frame

Routing the radius for the curved panel support frame. This will make the curved panel easier to handle.

Panel support frame

The completed panel support frame ready for cladding in ply

Cutting the curved panel

curved panel clamped to the support frame ready for cutting

The next step is to cut the two doors and drawer fronts from the tapered curved panel. This requires a special jig to be built so the elliptical curve between the sides and the door can be accurately cut. These in turn will need to be held in position for the mating of the side panels and central hinge support. The next blog post will illustrate the steps involved in this process to make the curved cabinet doors.

Gold Coast Harbour Town Armillary

Gold Coast Harbour Town armillary sphere

Harbour Town armillary sphere


The last place I expected to see an armillary sphere was at Harbour Town on Queensland’s Gold Coast. It just proves they make great decorative additions to almost any situation. The image of an armillary sphere represented the height of wisdom and knowledge during the Renaissance and it still carries that legacy today.

The word armillary is derived from the Latin armillae meaning a bracelet. The sphere is made up of several concentric rings (or bracelets) set inside one another which collectively represent an Earth centred view of the celestial sphere.

Armillary spheres were developed by the Greeks and were used as teaching aids to help visualise the movement of stars and planets in the heavens as early as the 3rd century BCE. Larger and more precise machines were also used as observational instruments. The Chinese had also developed simple devices as early as 4th century BCE. These developed in style and complexity over the ensuing centuries culminating in the construction of the Honcheonsigye armillary in 1433. This is the only astronomical clock from the Joseon Dynasty in existence today.

The Persians and Arabs improved even more on the armillary and developed other astronomical instruments such as the astrolabe. More refinements occurred during the Renaissance particularly by Tycho Brahe (1546-1601).

Harbour Town armillary sphere

The armillary sphere at Harbour Town on Queensland’s Gold Coast is a major sculptural element within the complex. It is set on a column in the middle of a compass laid out on the ground which is divided into 360 degrees. On this are indicated directions and distances to major cities around the world. It has quite a “Hard Rock Cafe” feel to it with the word LANE in prominent orbit around the outer sphere.

The sphere is inaccurate as the rings representing the polar circles and circles of the tropics are all equidistant from the equator ring when they should be 23.5 degrees from the poles and equator respectively.

Harbour Town Traders Lane

Harbour Town Traders Lane armillary on the Gold Coast

Garden Armillary

Garden armillary sphere

Garden armillary sphere

There is no easier way to add some style and class to a landscape than with the addition of a garden armillary sphere. The image of an armillary sphere represented the height of wisdom and knowledge during the Renaissance and it still carries that legacy today.

An armillary sphere is a representation of the celestial sphere that was used to describe the motions of the stars and planets across the sky. The word armillary is derived from the Latin armillae meaning a bracelet. The sphere is made up of several concentric rings (or bracelets) set inside one another which collectively represent an Earth centred view of the celestial sphere.

Armillary spheres were developed by the Greeks and were used as teaching aids to help visualise the movement of stars and planets in the heavens as early as the 3rd century BCE. Larger and more precise machines were also used as observational instruments. The Chinese had also developed simple devices as early as 4th century BCE. These developed in style and complexity over the ensuing centuries culminating in the construction of the Honcheonsigye armillary in 1433. This is the only astronomical clock from the Joseon Dynasty in existence today.

The Persians and Arabs improved the device even more and developed other astronomical instruments such as the astrolabe. More refinements occurred during the Renaissance particularly by Tycho Brahe (1546-1601).

A description of the garden armillary and more photos can be found on this page.

Garden armillary sundials

Another form of garden armillary is a sundial. Usually it is simply two open rings set at right angles to each other with a rod (or gnomon) running down the central axis which casts a moving shadow along the horizontal ring section as the Sun traverses the sky. It is important to align the gnomon with the southern and northern celestial poles so that its axis will be parallel with the north/south axis of the Earth.

Below are some photos taken during construction showing the ring orientation.

Armillary sphere construction

Fitting the tropic rings of the armillary sphere

Aligning the meridian and horizon rings of the garden armillary

Aligning the meridian and horizon rings