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How to Make a Metal Corn Crib Into a Gazebo

A metal corn crib is a round, wire structure used to hold ears of feed corn. Unlike a silo, which has solid sides, the corn crib is made of woven metal mesh to allow air to flow through the cobs. Old metal corn cribs make beautiful gazebos with a little effort and some ornamental vines. You may have to move the corn crib before you can use it, and will probably need to adjust its height.

If you do not know how to use basic hand tools--such as a screwdriver, wire cutters, socket wrenches, hammer and vise grips--do not attempt this project. If you do not already know how to weld, hire someone with extensive enough welding experience to be able to assess your structure and decide the correct method and materials to use.

  1. Number all roof parts so that they can be reassembled in the correct order later.

  2. Use screwdrivers, socket wrenches, vise grips, a hammer and wire cutters to disassemble your corn crib. Corn crib construction varies from prefabricated versions purchased from feed stores to homemade, slap-dash-assembly, so it is impossible to detail what you may encounter as you take your particular corn crib apart.

  3. Use a digital camera to take photos of your corn crib before you begin, from every possible angle. Take additional photos after each item you remove. This will aid you in reassembly.

  4. Choose the correct screw or nut-driver head before you begin. Refer to the Screw Profile Chart in the References section of this article for explanations of each screw profile.

  5. Unscrew and unbolt all the pieces one at a time to disassemble and remove the roof. Work from the highest point on the roof to the lowest. Turn screws and bolts counterclockwise to remove them. If any screws or bolts are too rusty or do not turn, spray with penetrating oil and wait 10 to 20 minutes for the corrosion to loosen. Repeat until fasteners will loosen or they break.

  6. Use a power drill to clear any fasteners that break in their holes. Choose a drill bit as close to the same diameter as the fastener as possible, and drill only as deep as the length of the fastener. Keep all screws, nuts and bolts in containers, as you will need them to reassemble your corn crib. Purchase additional fasteners to replace those you had to destroy while removing them.

  7. Remove wire mesh from the inside of the corn crib using wire cutters. Store it to use later, as livestock fencing, to prevent animals digging in your garden or to create armatures for garden sculptures.

  8. Use a cutting wheel on a four-inch or larger right angle grinder to cut the structure down to 10 to 12 feet tall, depending on the location of the horizontal bars that supported the wire mesh.

  9. Cut all roof pieces into manageable sections that can be handled safely on a ladder.

  10. Reassemble roof on top of the metal structure, just as it was when you took it apart. Work from the lowest point of the structure to the highest point of the roof, securing and triple-inspecting the placement and attachment of every piece as you go.

    Reassembly methods will depend on how your particular corn crib was made. If the roof was nailed, screwed or bolted into place before, nail, screw or bolt it again, to the same type, strength, size, number and location of roof supports as before. Turn screws and bolts clockwise to tighten during reassembly.

    If your roof was welded, use a 110-volt gasless MIG to weld it again. Have a helper hold each piece in place while you nail, screw or weld the pieces back together. Use wire cutters to make a doorway in the structure if it does not already have one.

  11. Use scrap metal, prefabricated wrought iron parts, repurposed farm implements and other found objects to embellish your gazebo. Michele Beschen of B-organic showcases Sheila O'Reilly's corn crib gazebo, which incorporates a mailbox repurposed into a flower box, as well as many other decorative accent pieces.

    Heat items with a propane torch to reshape them as desired. Don a welding helmet and full leathers. Use a 110-volt gasless MIG to weld embellishments into place after cleaning, grinding, and polishing everything.

  12. After all metalwork is complete, wire wheel any bare structural steel. Wash entire structure with a solution of trisodium phosphate and rinse clean with water. Paint structure in your choice of rust-inhibitive enamel colors.

Warnings

  • This project is rated challenging for a reason. This is not a project for a novice or even an intermediate reader. "Found object" construction can result in countless issues, from stubborn parts not coming loose, to parts being damaged or destroyed during deconstruction, to engineering problems during reconstruction. Even a long-time expert welder, metal fabricator, roofer or construction worker will experience many setbacks while attempting this project.
  • If you have a fear of heights, do not know how to use basic hand and power tools, have never used a welder and do not understand the basic principles of construction and roofing, hire a contractor or purchase a ready-made gazebo.