Schaus-Vorhies Manufacturing (SVM) provides a great many services to our clients. We can do everything from putting together a crane rail system supporting a crane capable of picking the heaviest loads, to designing and constructing the housing that the crane will be mounted into. SVM doesn’t just do massive industrial projects. We also do many smaller projects that allow our designers, machinists, and fabricators to flex their creative muscles and show off their skills. One of the services that allow for this is our ability to make custom metal railings.
Making a serviceable metal railing along the stairway at a power plant is one thing, but making something that people will look at and wonder how it is even possible to make something like that is another. Sure, the power plant’s railing has to be sturdy enough to handle plenty of traffic, constant vibrations, and changing environmental conditions, but its construction is still fairly simple. Something a little more pleasing to the eye takes a bit more skill and time.
Let’s say you’re constructing a hotel. You don’t want just the bare minimum of serviceability. You want something that will make people feel like they are living in a palace. Picture a winding staircase, rising from the lobby to the second-floor balcony. You want a railing that is both beautiful and durable. And as one of the most visible parts of the hotel, one of the first things people will notice as they walk through your doors, it has to be flawless. It needs to stand out while still being a natural part of the room. How does a railing that fits that lofty criteria get made?
It starts, of course, with our designers and engineers who will help you realize your vision. We can work well with either your drawings, photos, blueprints, whatever you have. Our people will work with you to make sure SVM will be making precisely what you want. Once the design is finalized, our craftsmen get to work, taking those lines on a paper and giving them life in the real world.
Once the proper materials have been selected, they need to be cut to the appropriate sizes and shapes. Let’s use the stunning (if we do say so ourselves) railing pictured on our website as our example to walk through the process a bit. See those circles so carefully laid out near the top of the railing? Those all by themselves take a lot of work to make happen. Each one needs to be individually cut from a metal piece, using a lathe or a CNC machine. Metal, after all, doesn’t come in perfectly formed rings, as you see in the picture. Each one has to be cut from a solid metal cylinder, after which the metal is milled out to create the perfectly smooth and polished rings you see in the picture. For this purpose, given the number of pieces and the importance of precision, a CNC machine would be the preferred choice as they can be programmed to repeat the same pattern repeatedly. The type of metal matters too, both in terms of cost of the raw material and time it takes to machine the individual pieces. Brass, for example, is significantly softer than stainless steel and will take much less time to machine.
After SVM’s expert machinists have successfully made the metal rings, we are still just getting started. If you look at the image closely, you can see that the rings are sandwiched between two metal bars. Fortunately, those bars are much easier to fabricate than the rings but still need to be cut to precisely the right length and thickness. From there, the bars and the rings need laying out on a perfectly smooth surface so they can be welded together. The slightest imperfection in how the pieces are joined together has major consequences for the appearance and the structural integrity of the railing.
As you can see, creating a piece of art like the railing pictured is no easy or simple task. Such components need to be pleasing to the eye and durable enough to withstand the rigors of a busy hotel or home to entertain large groups of guests.
Next time we’ll get more into constructing such an intricate railing, especially those ornate spindles featured so prominently in the picture. In the meantime, please call us. We’re happy to consult with you and look forward to assisting you with your custom design.