*Building A Heavy Duty Tomato Cage*
20 December 2010
I was in need of some better tomato cages than the cheep light weight ones in the stores that never hold up. I decided to build some like my dad made 15 years ago and still being used today. I started by getting a couple of cattle panels. These are about sixteen feet long, 3-5' tall and very heavy gauge wire. The panels I bought are 5' tall. I started by dividing the panel in three parts. I cut each section off so one of the ends has no vertical wire with the horizontal bars sticking out. I use an angle grinder with a cut off wheel to cut the wire. A bolt cutters leaves way to sharp of an edge. Be sure to wear gloves while building these.
When all of the panels are cut and ready to go now comes the tough part bending and rolling the panels. This is tough to do but is very doable. The best way to do this is try to bend one square at a time and slowly work it around till is a round cage. At this time it does not need to be perfect, that can happen later you just need to get the general shape for now. I also bend it so the horizontal wires are on the outside. One of the cages I did it the other way and had a few of the wires break free. Was not a big deal I just welded it back together.
Now what you need to do is take the loose ends of the wire and bend them around the vertical wire. I do this by hand and also with a large pliers.
Once all of the ends are bent over I use the cut-off wheel to remove the extra ends. I then take a file and clean up all of the sharp edges. You will be glad you did the edges are very sharp and will leave some nasty cuts. After this I finish making it round, I don't get to carried away I am sure the tomatoes won't care what they look like. I use some wooden stakes to keep it from tipping over.
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