Building a metal trellis for your garden is not a difficult task and can be completed in an afternoon. Using copper metal piping and wire for trellises is a great idea because copper stands up well to weather and ages beautifully, developing a beautiful patina that will provide additional visual and artistic interest in your garden.
Step 1: Draw Your Design
Using graph paper, draw the design of your trellis. Remember that every line will represent a section of copper pipe that you will need to cut to size and solder into place. The design will need to include 2 side pipes that will be used as the structural framing for the trellis.
Once you are happy with your design, determine the measurements for the height of the 2 side-framing support pipes. Also decide the width between the 2 side supports.
Count the number of pipe sections you will need and the length for each one. This will be your cutting list for the project.
Step 2: Cut the Copper Pipe
Mark the length of the piece of copper tube you will need.
Using the tube cutter, begin cutting the lengths of copper pipe that you will need for your design. You can use a hack saw to cut pipe, but it will take a long time. Instead use the tube cutter for a clean cut on the pipe. A tube cutter is very easy to use—just clamp it to the place on the tubing where you have market it and turn the cutter around the circumference of the tube. It will easily snap free once you have completed the circle.
For the 2 pieces that will be used as side frames, anchor the trellis to the ground, flatten the ends of the pipes with a hammer and then use tin snips to cut away the ends to form stakes. The stake portion of the pipe should be approximately 4 to 6 inches long.
Step 3: Begin Assembling
Following your design guide, you can begin to assemble the copper piping. Start with the larger pieces to create the frame.
First, you will need to flatten the ends of the copper pipe where they will meet each other. Do this by using the hammer. You only need to flatten a length of pipe at the end approximately 1 inch long. This will allow you to easily make a connection joint between two pieces of pipe. If the end of one pipe will be joined at the center of another piece, you only need flatten the end pipe, not the center of the joining pipe.
Use the emery cloth on the pipe where you plan on making a joint and connecting the pipes. This will roughen up the pipe edging a bit to allow the flux and solder to stick to the pipe. Using the flux brush, place flux around the ends of the two pipes you will be connecting together.
Use the torch to quickly heat the copper pipe and have the solder ready at hand to feed onto the pipe. You only want to heat the pipe and not burn the flux. You may need to try a time or two until you get an idea of how long it will take to heat the pipe without burning the flux. If you do burn the flux, simply let it cool, put more flux on it and try again.
Once the pipe is heated, feed approximately 2 inches of solder around the joint and let the heated copper pipe melt the solder. The heat from the pipe melts the solder, not the torch.
Let the copper cool.
Once you have the frame of the trellis assembled, then you can begin working on connecting the smaller pieces together and then connecting them to the trellis frame.
Step 4: Put Trellis in Place
Once you have all of the pieces connected and your trellis completed, you can stand it up and place it in the ground or in a container.
Building and assembling a copper metal trellis can be a fun and enjoyable weekend afternoon project. Over time, the copper will gain a beautiful patina that can be enjoyed in the garden. Metal trellises offer not only beauty but can also function as a way of providing additional privacy in the garden or for a patio or balcony.