ABRASIVE - Hard, granular material of varying fineness, used in grinding and/or polishing.

ANCHOR - Any device used in securing a building component to adjoining construction. See SLEEVE ANCHOR.  

ARC WELDING - A process of joining metal parts by fusion, with the necessary heat being produced by an electric arc struck between an electrode and metal, or two electrodes.

BALUSTER -   One of a series of closely spaced upright members which support the handrail in a railing.  See PICKET.  

BALUSTRADE -   A railing which is composed of balusters capped by a handrail.

BAR - a) A round, square, rectangular, hexagonal or similar section of rolled, drawn, or extruded metal. See FIELD JOINT (b)

BRACKET - A projecting member attached to the surface of another member to strengthen and/or support it.

BRAKING - The mechanical bending, flanging, folding, and forming of sheet or plate material, using a press, folding, or box brake.

BRAZING - The joining of metal parts by heating them and, by capillary action, drawing a molten copper-zinc or other brazing alloy between them.

BUFFING - The process of providing a lustrous finish by means of a power operated soft fabric wheel coated with a wax compound containing fine abrasive particles.

BULLNOSE -   Rounded edge of a stair tread or a brick.

BUTT JOINT - Fastening a squared edge or end of one member to the squared edge, end, or face of another member without overlapping. See OVERLAP, OVERLAY.

CANTILEVER - Member projecting beyond support(s) sufficiently to induce bending and shear forces in part(s) when subjected to transverse loading.

CAP - A fitting used to close the end of a pipe, tube, or post. The act of capping...


CASTING - A product formed by pouring molten metal into a mold.


CAST IRON - A hard, brittle, non-malleable which can be produced in any shape. It cannot be hammered or bent. It is used for many miscellaneous metal products both functional and decorative. It has good resistance to corrosion.


CIRCULAR STAIR-   A stair which, in plan view, has an open circular form with a single center of curvature. See SPIRAL and SWEEPING STAIR. 

CLIP - A small, fastening device, usually of metal, to hold an element or component in place by mechanical action or friction.

COLD ROLLED STEEL - Carbon steel which has been cleaned and pickled, then rolled or drawn through dies to produce a dimensionally accurate section with improved surface finish and often other improved properties.

COLD ROLLING - Bringing sheet, plate, or bar to a final thickness and finish by passing between heavy rollers without heating.

COLUMN - A structural member which is subjected principally to axial compression loading.



CORROSION - The deterioration of metal by chemical or electrochemical action due to weather, moisture, chemicals, or other agents or media. See RUST.

COR-TEN - The trade name used by the United States Steel Corp. for it's weathering type of steel.

COUNTERSINKING - Beveling the end of a hole to receive the conical head of a flat head or oval head fastener.

COVER SHOE -   A protective or ornamental cover located usually at and around the base of a post or a picket, baluster, or where a rail terminates against a wall. Also call a COVER FLANGE, COLLAR, WALL CLIP, WALL FLANGE, or ESCUTCHEON.

CURVED STAIR -   A stair which, in plan view, has two or more centers of curvature, being oval, elliptical, or some other compound curved form.

DEFLECTION - The bending or sagging deformation of a member or railing.

EASEMENT (stairs) - That curved portion of a handrail which forms a transition in a vertical plane between a horizontal and a inclined section of a handrail. Often called a GOOSENECK.

ELASTIC LIMIT - The maximum unit stress which can be applied to a material without causing permanent deformation.

EXPANSION JOINT - A control joint designed to allow for differential movement of the joining parts due to thermal expansion and/or contraction.

EXTRUSION - a) The process of producing metal shapes by forcing heated metal through an orifice in a die by means of a pressure ram, and b), any item made by this process.

FABRICATE - To manufacture, form, assemble, or construct metal products.

FAUX - A finish applied to a painted surface to appear old, rusty, antiqued, etc.

FERROUS METAL - Metal in which iron is the principal element.

FIELD DIMENSIONS - Actual dimensions taken on-site, as opposed to those referred to in a drawing. Usually taken prior to fabrication.

FIELD JOINT - a) A connection, usually a weldment, between two adjoining members or parts, made on-site at the time of installation. b) A beer-bar between two small towns.


FINIALS -   An ornamental piece on top of a railing or fence. Often referred to as URNS, SPEARS, SPIKES, THINGIES, and WHACHAMACALLITS. Rarely, if ever, referred to as FINIALS.


FORGING - Heating and hammering metal into a desired shape.

FORMING - The process of shaping metal by mechanical action other than machining, forging, or casting.

GALVANIZING - The process of coating metal with zinc, either by dipping in a vat of molten zinc, or by electrolitic action.

GENUINE WROUGHT IRON - Low carbon content material used for finer types of decorative iron work. No longer produced in the U.S. Mistakenly called rot iron, rod iron, rad iron, and what iron. Produced by a very limited number of fabricators.


GRAB BAR (Grab rail) - A short length of rail placed for safety and convenience.

GRINDING - Removing metal from a surface by means of abrasive action.

GUSSET - A piece of metal used to construct or reinforce an angular joint between two or more metal members.

HAMMERED - a) The effect of hot or cold, hand or machine peening or denting of metal surfaces for an artistic effect. Also called the Swedish look. b) Result of spending too much time in a FIELD JOINT (b).

HANDRAIL - Horizontal or sloping member normally grasped by hand. This member may be part of a railing system, and often, but not necessarily , is the top rail. It may be mounted to the wall or other part of the building. When part of a stair rail system, it is a member paralleling the stair pitch.

HANDRAIL BRACKET - A device attached to a wall, post, or other surface to support a handrail. See RAIL CLIP.

HEADROOM - The minimum vertical distance from the top surface of the stair tread or landing to the ceiling, soffit, or other overhead obstruction, measured at the outer edge of the tread.

HOT DIP GALVANIZING - The process or result of applying a protective coating to ferrous metal by dipping in a bath of molten zinc.

HOT ROLLED - Metal shaped by passing a heated billet between rollers.

LAMB'S TONGUE -   An ornamental curved and tapered fitting at the end of a handrail.


LANDING - Level part of a staircase at some intermediate point, or at the bottom or top of a stair flight. Also called a platform.

LATERAL SCROLL -   A fitting which curves in a horizontal plane. It is used to terminate a stair handrail. Usually ends up as a round plate covering the top of a post. Also visit LAMB'S TONGUE and VOLUTE.

METALLIZE - To apply a coating of metal, usually in powdered or molten form, on a base metal or other material. See FLAME SPRAY

For a more thorough explanation of metallizing, click here.  Please come back to GREAT GATES,  www.gr8g8s.com


MIG WELDING - The most common welding process used in the fabrication of ornamental gates , fences and the like. Metal, Inert Gas welding uses CO2, Argon, or other inert gas as as a flux to eliminate slag clean-up. Also call wire-feed welding. See WELDING

MILL SCALE - The scaly, oxidized surface produced on steel by heating and hot rolling.

MOLD - a) A form into which molten metal is poured to produce a casting b) Often found on old bread. Will NOT kill you if ingested.

NEWEL -   A post member, square, round, or rectangular in cross section. It supports the end of a stair railing, or serves as a common support for two stair railings.

NON-FERROUS - Metal without any iron content, ie. brass, aluminum.

OVERLAP, OVERLAY - A fabrication technique where pickets are overlapping the top and bottom rails, rather than being fitted between them.

PERFORATING - Punching or drilling an overall pattern of holes or openings in sheet metal.

PICKET - One of a series of closely spaced upright members which support the handrail in a railing.

PICKET CASTING - An ornamental design that attaches to a picket.

PIPE, ROUND - A hollow, round section of metal, the size of which is usually designated by the nominal inside diameter in inches. See TUBING.

PITCH (stairs) - The angle of slope of a flight, measured either in degrees, or by the ratio of the rise to run.

PLATE - A sheet 3/16" or greater in thickness measured in fractions of an inch, and 8" or greater in width.

POST - A vertical support member of a railing system.

PRIMER - A liquid coating applied to a surface prior to the application of paint or other finish.


SHOP DRAWING - A working drawing or sketch prepared by the fabricator.

SLAG - The crusty residue resulting from melting or arc welding metal.

SLEEVE ANCHOR - A fastening device that when put into a hole in concrete, expands when tightened, securing the flange or plate.

SPEARS - Arrows or spikes atop a rail or picket. See FINIALS.

SPIRAL STAIR -   A stairway with a closed circular form, uniform sector-shaped treads, and a supporting center column.

SPRAYING - The process of coating metal with paint, another metal, or any other material by means of air or hydraulic pressure.

STIFFENER - a) A reinforcing member which serves to prevent or limit the deformation of the member to which it is attached. b) Libation served at FIELD JOINT (b), too many would result in See SWEDISH IRON LOOK.

STRINGER (stair) - An inclined structural member supporting a flight of stairs.

STRIP - a) Flat metal 3/16" or less in thickness, and 12" or less in width. b) Show occasionally performed at FIELD JOINT (b), or BAR (b)

SWEDISH IRON LOOK - a) Hammered, b) Blitzed.

TACK WELD - a) A small, temporary weld applied to metal parts to hold them in position while completing an assembly. b) One of a series of small welds applied where a continuous bead is unnecessary.

TEMPERING - Heating metal, glass, or other material to below transformation stage, subsequently cooling it at a controlled rate to change its hardness, strength, or other property.

TEMPLATE - a) A pattern used as a guide in fabricating a part. b) A precise detailed layout or pattern for providing the necessary fabrication details.

TENSILE STRENGTH - The maximum load that can be sustained by metal in tension... measured in pounds per square inch. (psi)

TOLERANCE - a) Permissable deviation from a nominal or specified dimension or value. b) What grandparents possess in a limited supply.

TREAD - The horizontal member of a step.

TUBING - a) A hollow section of metal having a round, square, rectangular, or other cross-sectional form. Size is designated by outside dimension(s) in inches or millimeters, and wall thickness in gauge number, thousandths or fractions of an inch, or millimeters. b) Subjecting yourself to unbeleivable pummelling against rocks and stumps while running the rapids of the Kern River in an inner tube. Years later this will be recalled fondly as fun.

UPSETTING - a) A hot-forging operation by which the cross-sectional area of a bar or rod is locally increased. b) The result of receiving a clients check from the bank stamped with the words "non-sufficient funds."


VENT HOLE - An opening for the escape of gas or liquid, or for the releif of pressure, especially required in fabricating when the item is to be HOT-DIP GALVANIZED. Also called a WEEPHOLE.

VOLUTE (stairs) -   A spiral or scroll shaped fitting used to terminate a stair handrail. See LAMB'S TONGUE and/or LATERAL SCROLL.

WALL CLIP or WALL FLANGE - A bracket used for anchoring.

WALL HANDRAIL - A handrail attached to a wall adjacent to stairs and paralleling the pitch of the flight. Also used along walkways, ramps, and corridors.

WALL RETURN - A bend at the end of a wall handrail , turning it towards the wall to which it is attached.

WEEPHOLE - A small hole or opening provided to permit the drainage of moisture or escape of air.

WELDING - The process of joining two metals or alloys by fusion. Not to be confused with soldering. See MIG WELDING.

WELDING ROD - Metal rod of suitable composition to be used as a source of filler material in arc or gas welding.

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