4 Uses for Angle Irons

What is an angle iron?

Though an angle iron has iron in its name, it is actually made from galvanized steel with two different types – equal and unequal. Since an angle iron is a right triangle or 90 degrees, the two sides can be referred to as legs, which are the names given to the sides of a right triangle opposite the hypotenuse. In the case of equal angle iron, each leg is exactly the same length while with unequal ones, the legs are of differing lengths.
In the construction industry, angle irons are also known as L irons or L angles, the letter “L” describing their shape. The two terms are used interchangeably but need to be understood when speaking with a professional. Companies that manufacturer angle irons may use one or the other or both depending on how their marketing is done.
When thinking of an angle iron or L iron, it is important to realize that they can be an inch to several feet wide. There are varieties that are designed to support walls, shelves, and columns. Most of us think of the ones that we see at the local home improvement store. Though that type is very useful, the main and important use of them is in construction with different lengths serving various purposes.
The majority of angle irons are made from galvanized steel, which is resistant to oxidation or rusting. Galvanizing is a protective process where the steel angle iron is dipped in a tub of zinc, which protects the angle iron from rust and prevents corrosion. As long as the zinc remains coupled to the steel, it will continue to protect it even if portions of the zinc wears off.
You can purchase angle irons in three different kinds – with nonadjustable holes, without holes, and with adjustable holes. The nonadjustable holes version can have as many holes as the length of the placement requires. Ones without holes can have holes drilled where they are needed. Adjustable holes angle irons are used where the angle iron may need to be shifted slightly to fit properly.

Why use an angle iron?

The purpose of angle iron is to offer extra support in situations where two materials meet at a right angle. It is capable of bearing weight from the top or side regardless of the force that is applied. When holding an angle iron, regardless of its length, it may not feel sturdy enough for that purpose. Though the size and weight of it may give that impression, it has been found that angle irons are capable of giving extra support regardless of the weight that is applied.
Though the connected wood or metal may be strong enough to support each other, they may need a little extra to handle the unexpected weight. An added angle iron can be just enough to ensure the security and strength of the structure. They are able to do a hundred times more work than their size may imply giving extra support when the original design may not offer enough or may have been planned to be inserted as part of the plans. Regardless of the circumstances, they are very handy when the situation calls for them.
It is very likely that angle irons, in one form or another, have been a part of construction since the dawn of buildings. It is probable that the very first builders understood the need for right angle supports. The ancient right angles were probably wood connected with pegs. The modern angle iron is the continuation of an ancient building tradition.

How are angle irons used?

The uses of angle irons, L angles, is a very long list including everything from bed frames, children’s toys, chairs, skyscrapers, storage units, and on. It would be impossible to cover all of the ways they can be purposed. Here is a highlighted list of common uses.
Handy man projects: Angle irons in the home can be used for miscellaneous repairs such as a chair leg becoming detached from the seat, a support for the deck not being able to support the weight of furniture or the barbecue, or the construction of a gazebo in the back yard. The smaller versions of L angles are the choice of homeowners when doing incidental repairs.
Masonry work: When using bricks or blocks for a wall, the frame of a door or window is not designed to handle the weight and needs to be protected from being crushed. In both cases a long L angle can be added to protect the openings and offer extra support. This is also true of adding shelving to a block wall. Attaching an angle iron underneath the shelf will ensure a secure placement.
Bed frames: Metal bed frames use L angles to support the weight of a mattress. Unlike metal beds, wooden beds use slats to hold the mattress. With the weight of today’s foam mattresses, the slats may not be enough to keep the mattress from falling through the frame. The bed can be reinforced with L angles attached to the slats and side boards.
Construction: Angle irons or L angles used in construction are much larger than the type used for home projects and are part of the original plans for the structure. Their uses vary depending on how they are needed. In the construction of buildings, they support beams and certain types of columns. In vertical structures such as cell phone and broadcast towers, they offer extra resistance and strength to the tower in windy conditions or other forms of inclement weather.
Shelving: The use of L angles for shelving is not exclusively for masonry projects. They can be used for any type of wall from drywall to wood. As with masonry, screw anchors will be needed when attaching the shelf and L iron. The mantel on a fireplace can be held very securely using an angle iron.

Final word

For centuries builders have known the value of right angles for the construction. From Michelangelo to Frank Lloyd Wright, it has been the first thing used in building design. The angle iron or L iron of today is an extension of the tools from its long standing tradition.