Metal Carpentry: Characteristics And Types

Let’s go to deepen the knowledge of this specific branch of carpentry, of fundamental importance both in the construction sector and in the steel industry.

The term carpentry is used to define all those activities aimed at the construction and assembly of elements used for the construction of fixed structures, such as the load-bearing skeletons of buildings for example, or mobile, both permanent and temporary.

The carpentry is usually divided into sectors according to the material used mainly; the main branches are three: building carpentry, which mainly deals with the construction of scaffolding for the construction of masonry works and the preparation of supports and formwork for reinforced concrete castings, wooden carpentry and metal carpentry , which is divided in turn in light and heavy.


The history of metal carpentry is closely linked to that of steel; in fact, starting from the mid-nineteenth century, thanks to its highly resistant properties, steel began to play a fundamental role in construction and gradually replaced wood in the creation of load-bearing structures. Those made of steel, in fact, had the advantage of offering the same resistance as those in wood, occupying less space, consequently they had a “lighter” aesthetic impact.

Towards the end of the 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s, metal carpentry had a strong impulse, therefore, above all thanks to the emblematic works entirely built in steel, such as the Eiffel Tower and the various Galleries built in the main cities of Italy and Europe. In the same period, the use of reinforced concrete as a new building material began to develop, and at that point metal carpentry definitively assumed a central role in the building construction sector.

Metallic carpentry today

Nowadays, metal carpentry has also spread to other sectors, especially in the industrial and civil sectors; since its applications have grown exponentially, numerous micro-categories have arisen within the main discipline.

As a matter of convenience, however, it was decided to divide the metal carpentry into only two categories: light and heavy; these are differentiated according to the dimensional scale of their applications, and consequently to the different processing methods to which the steel is subjected. Now we are going to examine both categories in detail.

Heavy metal carpentry

This branch of carpentry operates mainly in the industrial and civil sectors but is also widespread in many other sectors, including naval and aerospace. In the field of construction, it provides for the construction of elements such as iron canopies , roofing for canopies , walkways, iron stairs , arches, tunnels, bridges, prefabricated sheds , pylons and support pillars, external fire escape stairs and other works.

Most of the elements that are used in heavy metal carpentry are made in a standard way and subsequently assembled; consequently certain elements can be used both to assemble trusses and to create the load-bearing structures of the roofs, for example.

Another feature of heavy metal carpentry is that of making use of sheets with a greater thickness than those used in light carpentry, precisely because the elements made must guarantee a higher structural and mechanical resistance than that required in the field of light metal carpentry.

The light metal carpentry

In this sector, on the other hand, thinner steel sheets are used that allow a more articulated processing, capable of producing not only standard elements but also objects with an elaborate or unique design; moreover, tinsmithery is also included in the category of light metal carpentry.

Most of the elements created are similar to those of heavy carpentry, such as the iron canopy and the modern internal stairs . These are also flanked by functional furnishing elements, for example the iron staircase , furniture and chairs, railings, doors and windows, movable partition walls, shelving and walkways, as well as decorative elements , such as lanterns, lamps, ornaments. , sculptures and so on.

With the exception of the latter type of objects, therefore, it can be noted that the elements made from metal carpentry are recursive regardless of the categories they fall into; as previously mentioned, the only substantial difference between heavy and light metal carpentry lies in the different processing methods, due to the different thickness of the sheets used, and the dimensional scale of the elements made.

Metallic carpentry in the hobby sector

Light metal carpentry is also practiced professionally at an artisanal level by blacksmiths and for this reason it is the only category that has also been able to spread in the hobby and do-it-yourself fields. The reduced thickness of the profiles and of the sheets used for the realization of the elements, in fact, is such as to facilitate the working methods; even a simple enthusiast, if he has adequate space, can organize a small workshop equipped with a workbench, vice and other tools suitable for iron working.

The welding equipment is obviously essential; if in heavy metal carpentry, rivets and bolts are used above all to assemble the various elements together, in light carpentry above all welding is preferred, which are just as efficient on a small scale and allow to obtain lighter elements than those assembled with bolts .

Gaining experience in the use of the wire welder means having the possibility to deal with a wide range of workings with iron and to be able to create elements or artifacts of any type, from the simple iron canopy to be installed outside, to protect the area in front of the entrance door, up to the decorative objects.

The applications in the hobby field are numerous and varied on a par with those affecting the professional fields at an artisanal and industrial level. Precisely for this reason it is very important to underline that light metal carpentry, like heavy metalwork, is subject to a series of regulations that establish the requirements and performance characteristics of steel and aluminum components, and of kits that are marketed as products. from construction.

Even if in a purely hobbyist field, therefore, the structural elements, such as stairs, walkways or mezzanines, must be made in compliance with the UNI EN 1090 standard.

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