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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tutorial for Gabions

Gabion fortifications fit into many historical periods.  An army could procure the materials in most areas, and once they were built, they could be emptied and transported easily. 
There are many commercial manufactures out there, but I initially intended to use a whole bunch of them so the cost would have been prohibitive.  I tried sculpting several with poor results.  So I researched how they were originally made and tried my hand at it.  Here is what I came up with.

1.) Start out with a small piece of flat wood (I used door skin but a thin sheet of MDF will do)
2.) Cut a wood dowel to the height that you are looking to build the gabion up to.  The diameter of the wood dowel should be slightly smaller than the gabion you are making because the wire will bulk the rest out later.
3.)  Glue the dowel to the base.
4.)  Once dry, drill the holes for your uprights around the base of the dowel.  It has to be an odd number of holes so space them accordingly.  Generally I drill four holes across from each other in the shape of a cross.  Then on three sides I drill two holes in between each of the initial quarter of the circle.  On the last quarter, I drill three holes.  This makes a total of 13 holes drilled in a circle around the base.

 5.)  Turn the dowel upside down so you see the holes.  Take some 16 gauge wire (thicker wire) thread it through two opposite holes.  This will make the first two uprights next to the dowel.  Repeat for all twelve paired holes.  Under the base, it should now look like a star with the paired wires crisscrossing the center.  

For the thirteenth hole, wrap some of your 16 gauge wire around the center of your mass of wires and thread it through the last hole.  This will help secure the whole mass.  The arrows in this image show the last wire securing the mass. 

6.)  Starting on the bottom, use superglue around each hole to help set the wires in place.  Then turn it over and do the top.
7.)  Drill a small pilot hole in between any two uprights.  Insert your thin gauge wire (I used 20 gauge) into the hole and superglue it in place.  Do not cut the wire from the spool, you will need quite a bit.
8.)  From where you glued the thin wire in place, start wrapping around the outside.  First around the outside of the first upright then inside of the next one.  After you go around two or three times, use a tool to press the wire down so it is uniformly woven around the dowel.  You might have to pull it tight every so often to get it in place. Wrap the whole way up to the top of the dowel.

9.)  When you get to the top, cut the thin wire a little long and tuck it into the weave.  

10.) Cut and file flat your uprights, and give the whole gabion some super glue to tack it down.  These images shows the gabion without the wood dowel for support.  I removed the base and dowel to make it easier to see the whole gabion.  Bases are added for scale.

11.)  Apply your sand to the top.
12.)  Cut the base off the gabion, and then sand the bottom flat.
13.)  If you intend to cast it you need to fill all the holes in the weave.  Smear wood glue over the surface and then wipe it off so it sets into the weave.  Let it dry and then touch up again.  Then you can make your mold.

Hope this helps.   
Snitchy sends.  


  1. Wow those look great, love gabions but premade ones are always expensive. Your method shows a perfect end result!

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