The Material

There are many misconceptions regarding ‘wrought iron’. Although many things today are described as ‘wrought iron’, genuine puddled wrought iron made from pig iron, is no longer commercially made. To the best of our knowledge there is only one place in the UK that can supply genuine puddled wrought iron and this is made by recycling the original material. Since it’s development in the 1870’s mild steel has gradually become the material of choice. Today virtually all ironwork is made from mild steel and the frequently used term ‘wrought iron’ describes a material which has been ‘wrought’, i.e. worked, be that by machine or man.

Traditional Metalworking Techniques

Any traditionally-made item has a unique set of aesthetics attributable to the making process it has undergone, however the demand for cheaper metalwork has caused the almost total decline in the use of these techniques.

The working of hot iron allows a skilled craftsman to manipulate the material to pretty much any shape you can conceive of. Since the Iron Age our craft has been fundamental to society. The traditional ironworker would not only have been the maker of their own tools but of just about every other craftsperson’s tools. At Ironart our craftsmen not only understand from practical experience what looks good and works well but have the skills to achieve it. The connection between hand, hammer and the continual thought of the desired outcome is a considered process capturing the maker’s spirit and resourcefulness in a way that a machine made item cannot.

You can identify a traditionally made item of metalwork by:

Complete lack of welding

Complete lack of welding


The use of rivets, collars, and bolts for joining components.

Swelling tenon joints

Swelling at joints
indicating the use of tenons

Piercing of bars through one another 1

The piercing of bars
through one another

Flowing scrollwork

Flowing scrollwork

Modern Metalwork

Modern metalwork has been defined by the development of metalworking machinery. The advent of the welder alone has allowed us limitless design possibilities and a cleaner, sleeker, more precise aesthetic. The use of machinery and subsequent mass production has vastly speeded up the fabrication process leading to a significant drop in prices.

Today wholesalers of metalwork components used in the fabrication of much modern ironwork use largely the same machines to produce largely the same components as one another. The demand for cheap ironwork has been made practicable by such means. The slapdash assembly of these components using modern techniques has created a plethora of ill-considered designs and slovenly workmanship not to mention the homogenised and soulless constructions to be found on the mass market.

Modern metalwork - Ironart of Bath

Modern metalwork – Ironart of Bath



Scrollwork can be achieved either by bending cold metal into the desired shape or by heating in the forge and hammering. When it is bent cold the scroll will have a blunt end and it is difficult to achieve an even, graceful shape, however the process is quicker and requires less skill and is therefore cheaper and readily available.Scrolls which have been created by heating the metal and then hammering it into shape are far more refined, whether slender and elegant or chunky and solid the result should be a beautiful, well balanced spiral which flows gracefully to a natural conclusion.

An example of poor quality cold bent scrolls

An example of poor quality cold bent scrolls

High quality hot forged scrolls

High quality hot forged scrolls

1_scroll making2_scroll making4_scrollmaking5_scrollmaking


There are endless variations on the design and fixing of railings dictated mostly by cost, the setting and style. From a basic, cost-effective welded construction to traditionally forged finials individually leaded in for the purist, Bath has an abundance of railings which we are constantly employed in repairing and recreating. Following are a few points worth taking into consideration when considering. Traditionally constructed railings have uprights made of solid bar, the ends of which have been individually heated and hammered to form the finials. The top strap is punched and the uprights passed through and fixed in place discreetly. Uprights are set directly into stone coping, caulked in with molten lead and finished with a lead collar.Plate fixings are unsightly and create a rust trap, at Ironart we prefer to fix directly into the stone using resin to fix into vertical surfaces and lead to fix into horizontal surfaces.

Using resin to fix into vertical surfaces

Using resin to fix to vertical surfaces

Welds can be ground to a neat finish at little extra cost

Welds can be ground to a neat finish at little extra cost


Using lead to fix into horizontal surfaces

Using lead to fix into horizontal surfaces


Cast iron finials on steel posts

Cast iron finials on steel posts

Welding a cast finial to a steel post is seldom successful (as can be illustrated by the number missing) a more secure result can be achieved by drilling and tapping the bar and finial then joining them with a threaded dowel.Tubular steel is prone to deterioration from rust over a relatively short period of time it is therefore generally unsuitable for gates and railings despite sometimes being offered as a cheaper alternative.

A basic welded construction is a cost effective alternative

A basic welded construction is a cost effective alternative


Lead collar detail

Lead collar detail

Whilst the most spectacular and ornate ironwork is affordable only to a few,
we like to think that with consideration, simple detailing and good design,
quality ironwork can be made to fit most budgets.

Colours and Finishes

Rusted finish

Bare metal left raw to the elements to develop a deep russet coloured rustic finish over time. Although we usually go to great lengths to preserve metal from rusting, these products are made using solid steel bars, and will have a considerable lifespan. (Put simply… they will probably outlive you!)


Hot-dipped galvanizing will prevent rust forming. This gives a silvery crystalline coating which is impervious to moisture and once painted requires minimal maintenance. If left unpainted, galvanized steel will require no maintenance at all, over time it takes on a dull grey appearance.
Any external metalwork benefits from being galvanized.


Waxed steel is only suitable for interior use, and is ideal if you want to retain the natural patina of hand forged metal with a translucent finish. It is achieved using three to four coats of silicone-based floor wax (which is less sticky than beeswax, the traditional alternative). The wax will need to be reapplied on a regular basis, usually about once a year.


Most of our items are supplied with a painted finish in the colour of your choice. We prefer spray painting to powder coating, as chips and knocks can be easily retouched at any time. We’re happy to supply a tin of touch up paint, please request when you place your order.


Colour Range

swatch-lichenLichen – Soft and subtle – tones perfectly with natural stone and wood.
swatch-lichenPigeon blue – A soft, vintage blue shade with hints of sage.
swatch-lichenOriental blue – A very pretty assertive blue. Ideal if you are looking for a contrast.
swatch-lichenChalk blue – A chic and contemporary finish to your metalwork.
swatch-lichenCornish cream – Elegant, traditional and understated.
swatch-lichenClaret – A bolder but still versatile choice – ideal for both urban and rural settings.
swatch-lichenDark green – Harmonious within a garden environment, timeless in any setting.
swatch-lichenBlack – A classic and traditional metalwork finish. Choose from gloss or satin.
swatch-lichenWhite – A gloss white painted finish, ideal if you are looking for a crisp, clean silhouette.

We can post you colour swatches from this colour range if you’d like to see a sample. We can also paint metalwork in ANY colour of your choice for an additional charge. Please get in touch.



A method of joining pieces of metal of the same width by wrapping a strip of steel/ iron around them.

Dog bars

Intermediate bars between the uprights approximately half the height of the gate.


The decorative (or not) tips of railings.

Halving join

A join made by splicing two lengths of metal together for a discreet finish.

Reeded steel

Steel with a distinctive, grooved profile popular in traditional seating.


A way of joining two pieces of metal by drilling a hole and inserting a pin which is then hammered into a dome which covers the hole and holds the metal together.


Part of a joint created by shaping a chunky pin/ projection from one of the pieces being joined which will then be fitted tightly into a hole in the piece it is being joined to.

Wrought Iron

Either a term used to describe steel which has been ‘worked’. Or a material as we’ve described in ‘The Material’ section above.