How to Design with Wire Mesh
Wire mesh is available in three general forms: chicken wire, welded mesh and hardware cloth. Chicken wire has a hexagonal pattern with a twisted side at the top and bottom of each hexagon. Welded mesh is formed from straight lengths of wire that are welded together--not woven--to form a net. And hardware cloth features woven wires that are soldered at the joints. Although they're constructed similarly, each of these materials offers a unique compromise between strength, flexibility and durability. For example, welded mesh is the strongest and most capable of bearing weight, but is also the least flexible. Consider these properties as you select materials.
1 Examine the wire mesh that you'll be using. Wire mesh is typically measured in three dimensions: the size of the holes in the mesh, the thickness or gauge of the wire, and the
wire's weight. High gauge, thinner, wire will have more flexibility and may be able to maintain its shape under compression, while low gauge wire is strong and rigid.
2 Put on thick gloves and safety goggles. Handle sample wire mesh panels to test the flexibility and work out the possible angles and positions of the mesh.
3 Sketch the structure. Annotate the drawing so it's clear what type of mesh you'll use for each component.
4 Roll out a section of wire mesh and lay it on the ground. Cut through the mesh one section at a time. Use pliers to bend the cut ends of wire over; this process will prevent injury during handling.
5 Align the panels according to your design. Look for gaps that can lead to structural weakness and instability.
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