Ashton Security Side Gate

Ashton security side gate
Ashton security side gate

A house in Marrickville had a timber security side gate to stop access down the side of the house. Being timber it was also impossible to see down the side of the house or see someone who may be wanting to get past the gate.

The owner decided she wanted a steel security gate made that had a similar design to the existing front gate of the property. It would also allow her to see who may be wanting to enter down the side of the house.

A dead lock was needed to fit into the steel support rails so the gate could not be opened without the key.

Exisiting front gate
Existing steel front gate

The existing gate (shown on the left) was used as a basis to develop the full height Ashton door design as shown above.

Fitting the dead lock to the steel SHS tubing required inserting 12mm steel plates into the 1.6mm walls of the steel tube so threaded holes could be cut to secure the lock catch attaching screws.

Finished lock attachment plate
12mm steel plate fitted to SHS steel and drilled and threaded for lock catch
securing steel plates
Top and bottom view of 12mm steel plate before fitting to SHS tube

Before and after view of the side security gate

Comparison of old vs new side gate
Before and after security side gate

Art Deco Folding Security Panels

Above shows a test of the opening mechanism of the security panels.

Reagh Bar security panelsThe project involved the design of Art Deco folding security panels to secure the alcoholic assets of a CBD Sydney bar. The Reagh Bar at the Castlereagh Boutique Hotel needed to leave their bar stock on the shelves behind the bar rather than having to put it all away each night and re-stock the following evening.

The Art Deco era Castlereagh Hotel opened on September 12th, 1927 and was built by the New South Wales Masonic Club. It was the first reinforced concrete building in the Sydney CBD and, at the time, was the tallest building in Sydney with 12 floors. Its construction set the precedent for future CBD buildings. It has been the base for the Masonic Club ever since and they wanted something sympathetic to the Art Deco era of the hotel for the folding security panel design.

Our PLAZA style Art Deco design was selected as the optimum style for the folding panels. The design brief was for security panels that could be easily locked and opened and not be too obtrusive. A set of six centre opening Art Deco style panels were designed that satisfied the brief while keeping the overall look light and airy. Clear polycarbonate panels were attached to the back of the folding panels to prevent access to the the bottle stock through the steel bars when the panels were locked closed.

The following photos illustrate the construction of the folding panels. To keep the visual impact of the bars to a minimum 20mm wide framing was chosen. To avoid having two adjacent 20mm vertical bars together making 40mm wide vertical sections 20x10mm solid steel verticals were used which presented a combined 20mm width overall. This made attaching the clear polycarbonate back panels difficult. Since each panel required forty screws to attach to the frames they had to be individually drilled and tapped into the solid 20x10mm sections to accommodate the fastening screws.

The geometry of the six folding panels was crucial and they had to be millimetre perfect so they would meet in the middle of the bar section and lock together.

The top and bottom sections of the frames were hollow 20x20mm SHS steel and only 1.6mm thick so 12mm thick sections had to be fitted into them so the pivots had something solid to screw into.

(Click on an image for a larger view.)

Pivot attaching points

Fitting 12mm steel plates into the top and bottom frame sections to attach pivots

Fitting hinges to bars

Vertical bar section hinges showing open/closed positions.

To keep the overall look light and airy the clear panels needed to screw directly to the back of the 10mm wide vertical bar sections. This required drilling and threading for 240 screws. To simplify construction the panel operation geometry was done before the design was welded into them.

Tapping holes

Drilling and tapping holes for attaching clear polycarbonate panels to frame

Panel geometry

Checking the geometry of the folding panels before fitting the design

Once the panel folding geometry had been confirmed the PLAZA design was jigged into place in the frames and welded in position.

Laying out the design in a jig before welding everything together

Completed side with design in test frame to double check geometry

The clear polycarbonate panels were attached after all the welding was completed. To accurately drill the screw holes in the panels dummy screws with sharpened heads were fitted into the screw positions and the polycarbonate was hit lightly with a hammer over each screw point to indicate where the holes should be drilled. Preliminary testing of the panel operation is shown in the video below.

Polycarbonate panel fitting

Fitting polycarbonate sheets to back of frames

All polycarbonate panels fitted and fitted to test frame to check alignment

The folding panels are supported and slide inside tracking sections at the top and bottom. The bottom tracking can be removed when the panels are stowed open on each side. When closed the panels are secured together with a pivoting drop bolt. The operation of the panels is shown in the video at the end of the post.

Security panels closed

Installed panels closed

Security panels opened

Installed panels opened

Reagh Bar security panels

Front view of closed panels

Front view of opened panels

Ashton Style Side Gates

Centre opening Ashton side gates

Centre opening Ashton side gates

A client wanted custom side gates built for their Art Deco home that would match the style of the original front gates on their property. Our Ashton style was the ideal choice.

The side of the house where the side gates were required was a little wider than normal which would make a single gate too large. Centre opening double Ashton side gates were suggested which would have a more pleasing aesthetic. The fence on the side of the house was too flimsy to support a gate so a 100mm square steel pillar needed to be installed to support one side.

Using the original front gates (which we had just restored) as a guide, the Ashton design was adapted for the side gates to capture the look that was wanted.

One gate layout

One gate half jigged out ready for welding

Side path before gate installation

Side path before gate installation

Completed Ashton gates

Completed Ashton gates with a cold gal coating and primed

Back view of gates

Back view of gates

The installation was very straight forward but the house was cement rendered and there was no way of knowing if you were drilling into bricks or mortar so dynabolts would be a bit dicey. Instead it was decided to use Chemset studs which provided a much more secure anchor without putting undue stress on the brickwork.

The installation of the Ashton style side gates has made a nice addition to the overall look of the property.

Front Gate Restoration

Restored front driveway gates

Restored front driveway gates

The owner of this Art Deco home wanted to keep the original front gates so decided on a front gate restoration to bring them back to their original condition. This was easier said than done. Over the years a large Japanese maple tree had pushed one of the driveway gate supports out of square making the front gate impossible to close. In fact the front gates had been left open in a deteriorated state for decades.

We were approached to see if anything could be done to rectify the situation. A small pedestrian gate further along the wall had also fallen victim to the same fate with tree roots moving the brick fence over the years so the gate would not even fit between their supports anymore. The client did not want to demolish and rebuild the fence but wanted to retain the original front gates as much as possible.

The first thing was to remove the gates and return them to the workshop. Firstly they were sent to be sand blasted to remove the old paint and corrosion. Careful measurements were made of the front gate supports to determine how they could be re-hinged. The existing hinges and latches were severely corroded and could not be used so a new hinge and latch arrangement had to be devised.

With the new hinge arrangement the driveway gates had to be cut down approximately 100mm to fit between the support pillars. By cutting 50mm off the hinged side of each gate their symmetry was retained without detracting from their appearance.

Original gate

The original driveway gates were corroded and missing parts

Original pedestrian gate

Original pedestrian gate was in very bad shape

Laser showing gate support lean

Laser level showing gate support lean

New gate installation

Cut down gate with lean compensating hinge layout

Once the lean of the gate pillars had been determined a compensating hinge arrangement was built so the gates would all hang square once again.

New pedestrian gate

New cut down pedestrian gate

New gate latch

New pedestrian gate latch

The pedestrian gate also had to be cut down about 50-60mm as well and missing parts replaced. A new hinge and latch arrangement was devised for it as well. It proved impossible to find a suitable gate latch. The original latches and hinges were no longer available and most gates nowadays fit to the edge of a pillar, not the middle. A new latch setup was built which worked very well without being too obtrusive.

The client also wanted some side gates built for the house using the same design as the existing front gates. These are described in another post.

Concave Table Base

Concave base mirror table

Concave base mirror table

A custom concave table base was required on which a large black framed mirror could be mounted. The client wanted a unique display table for their optometrist business. A sturdy design was developed for the base section that blended well with the mirror while maintaining an elegant double concave surface on the base.

White LEDs around the inside edge of the mirror frame were also fitted to illuminate the display area. The table base was constructed of timber and was finished in a high gloss black enamel.

To make the concave surfaces an intricate timber framework was built on which the plywood surfaces could be attached. To keep the weight to a minimum sections of ply were cut from the ply panel components that were not structurally required. This had the added benefit of allowing access inside the base to ensure good adhesive bonding of the edges of the concave surfaces.

Routing the curved profiles for the support structure

Routing the curved profiles for the support structure

Completed internal framework prior to cladding

Completed internal framework prior to cladding

First concave 5mm bendy ply section attached

First concave ply section attached

Cladding in ply completed

Cladding in 5mm bendy ply completed

The LED strips around the inside edge of the mirror were powered by small battery packs fitted in recesses under the mirror in the base section. The LEDs were divided into two sections with a battery pack fitted either end of the table base.

Side view of concave table in shop

Side view of concave table in shop

View of the mirror top showing LED strips

View of the mirror top showing LED strips

Giant Sized Music Box

Giant sized music box

Giant sized music box

This giant sized music box was built for a client who wanted an adult ballet dancer to perform a short routine for an event. An old fashioned look was required so a convex sided box with timber trim top and bottom was decided upon with floral decals on the side. A giant sized silver key was also built that fitted into the top of the music box to give the illusion of being able to “wind it up”.

The most complex part of the giant sized music box build was constructing the convex middle section. A timber skeleton was built with curved inner support panels on which bendy ply could be attached. After the first two opposite sides were attached the curve of the remaining sides were carefully traced using the exposed inner panels as a guide. The sides were then trimmed to almost the line and then sanded to the final shape by hand. This was accomplished by glueing sandpaper around a length of 30mm tube which was then drawn back and forth following the curve of the inner panels. It was important to get the outer curve of the sides to match exactly the inner support panel curve so that the bendy ply would contact all four surfaces when folded over them. This ensured a neat join of the side panels once they were sanded back.

First two sides attached

First two sides attached to the inner framework

Marking the side curve

Marking the cutting line for the side curve

Sanding the side panels

Sanding the side panels to match the curve

Side panels sanded

First two sides sanded and ready for last two side panels


Once the music box middle panels had been sanded to match the curve of the sides the remaining two sides were attached. Liquid nails was used along all internal faces and the edges of the first two side panels. Once attached the adhesive was spread evenly along the inside join of the sides to ensure a good bond. The weight reducing holes in the inner framework facilitated access to these areas.

Next the music box base and top were built. These were quite straightforward to build and the top used 30mm thick pine that would support the dancer. Timber mouldings were cut to make the music box look more interesting and small cabriole legs were purchased to add that bit of old fashioned charm.

Music base unit

Music box base section

Glueing the top section

Glueing the top section


The music box parts were then undercoated and painted. Floral decals printed on stick-on vinyl were attached to the middle section after the final painting had been done. A final over spray of matt clear polyurethane blended the decal and the topcoat of the music box and also added a bit more adhesion for the decals around their edges.

Attaching floral decals

Floral decals are attached to the middle section

Assembled music box

Assembled sections ready for final clear coat

Giant ballerina music box
Music box with Ballerina

Asymmetrical Panel Backdrop

asymmetrical panel backdrop hanging in the support frame

Completed Asymmetrical panel backdrop hanging in the support frame

A very different idea for a recent function was the building of this asymmetrical panel backdrop. It was made up of differently sized panels, cut at an angle at the bottom, with different finishes on the panels. Some panels were painted cream or charcoal blue while others were covered in crushed navy velvet or mirrored mylar film.

The panels were hung from a steel support structure which was 2.4m high by 3m wide. The frame was built so it could be dismantled into 1.5m sections for ease of transport. On the back of the top support a timber baton was fixed that had eye screws at predetermined positions so the panels hung in their correct configuration.

The panels were made from 5mm foamcore board with a 1mm aluminium strip glued along the top edge that had holes to attach the wires which supported them.

When the velvet was glued to the panels they developed a slight bow which made them hang unevenly. This was fixed by attaching 45x5mm hardwood braces on the backs of the affected panels to keep them hanging flat. The same happened when the panels were painted.

Hanging panels before finishing

Hanging panels before finishing

View of rear of the panels showing the hardwood bracing and top baton

View of rear of the panels showing the hardwood bracing and top baton

Prop Safe

Prop safe with door closed

Prop safe with door closed

This prop safe was built for a recent theatre production. The top sign is hinged on the top and folds down for transport. A steel rod that drops inside the safe supports the sign when it is up.

The safe is made of timber with swivel castors attached to steel support plates on the base. Shaped timber blocks decorate the tops of the plates where they protrude from the sides of the safe.

To minimise mechanical problems with locks and latches a simple magnetic latch was used on the door. This avoids any potential for locks catching or failing to open during a performance.

Side view of safe with door open

Side view of safe with door open

Steel rod that supports the top sign when it is hinged upright

Steel rod that supports the top sign when it is hinged upright