Anatomy of a Railing
Glossary of terms used in the railing industry.

anatomy 2CAST IRON
This is iron which is formed by being cast into moulds. In this way multiple shapes can be reproduced quickly and with less labor than wrought or hand building techniques. Cast iron has great strength and durability but is very brittle and can break easily if torqued. Cast iron components are often used in fabricating decorative iron forms.

CHANNEL
Channels are U shaped structures in cross section but can also be made of solid material which was more common in the past. Channels form a horizontal bar which is pierced for pickets to be attached to. Perpetua Iron welds all such intersections to form a solid, permanent structure for railing. Channels most always exist at the top and the bottom of a railing with pickets, but can also be placed within the rail for added design and structure.

FINIALS
This is the visual ending point of an upright/vertical form – such as posts or pickets. Finials are often cast iron components welded to the steel or they can be hand-wrought forms where the material is heated and shaped.

HAND RAIL
This is the horizontal piece which contacts your hand in a railing. It is often moulded in a common shape, but can be made with flat material or round.

HAND RAIL TERMINATION
This refers to the shape at the end of a hand rail. Common shapes include: a scroll, a C roll, a ball, a lamb's tongue – which is a double curved, elegant ending.

NODES
These are cast iron decorative shapes that slip over a picket. They can come in a great variety of designs. They function as visual punctuation / create rhythms in the field of vertical pickets. Perpetua Iron most often welds these in place and in this way they are sealed from moisture.

PICKETS
Are the vertical elements in a railing. They can be made out of square, round, or flat stock. They can be shaped, twisted, etc. Perpetua Iron always uses solid pickets and not tubing. Tubing pickets are substantially weaker with less durability.

POST
Posts can be round, square, solid or hollow. Their base can be buried in the ground or in the cement of a pavement. They can have cast iron bases welded to them. They provide critical structure in a railing.

SCROLLS
Are the spirally forms that have been a part of decorative iron for 100's of years. They form a natural system of triangulation and in this way are often structural as well as visual. They can have many different qualities in how they are formed- including the shape of the ending point.

SHOES
These are most often cast iron forms that are either welded or slipped over posts. Some shoes are the mode of attachment for a rail to the ground. Other shoes form a visual transition between the post and the ground, while protecting the mortar used for installation.

TWISTED PICKET
These are pickets that have been twisted – which in the case of flat material, brings extra structural strength to the stock.

WROUGHT IRON
This refers to steel that has been shaped through heat and often hammer. This creates a material that has been “wrought”. Much contemporary work does not involve such labor intensive processes – but is still identified by the consumer as “wrought iron”. Now the term is used by the layperson to refer to the whole field of fencing and decorative iron regardless of the material or techniques.

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