Mark Create a Copper Arbor

Let no man say that a copper arbor got the best of me. This was a long project. It took me two full days to finish, and there were times when I wasn't sure if I would. But, gosh darn it, I did it.

I had planned to put in another garden plot. But when the rain decided not to agree with me, I had to change plans. The side of my house was deep in mud, so there was no real way to haul things back and forth between the front and back yards. I knew I want an arbor for vines to grow on and I thought I would make a wood one. After looking arbors on the internet, I found some copper arbor that I thought were very cool. My goodness, I couldn't believe how much they cost! Very simples ones cost over $500. Well, I wasn't about to pay that. I knew from my previous experience of building a water fountain, that I could do it better and cheaper.

I found a plan at Rebecca's garden website. I downloaded the PDF file, estimated how much copper I needed, and off to Lowe's I went.


  1. If you decide to do this, don't pick such a complicated design. Every piece of copper, you have to glue. What a pain. The top took me about 30 minutes to glue, where the two sides took over three hours a piece.

  2. You need some type of a vise. When I was cutting the copper, all I had was a pair of pliers to hold it. This really added to the time to cut all the pieces.

  3. The measurements that I downloaded aren't exactly correct. Because of the number of joints in the cross pieces, any difference in measure adds up. This didn't cause a problem because of the small difference, but it was annoying.

  4. Clean your pipes before you cut them. There is little printing on them, which has to be taken off with steel wool. Doing all the little pieces took forever.

Step One: Buy your stuff

For this project, here's what I got and the prices. You should double check this for accuracy.

  • (5) 3/4*10' copper pipe - $39.40

  • (8) 1/2*10' copper pipe - $39.84

  • (40) 1/2 copper tees - $23.20

  • (24) 3/4*3/4*1/2 copper tees - $18.85

  • (4) 3/4 copper tees - $3.32

  • (16) 1/2 copper 45 degree elbows - $6.80

  • (2) Slow setting epoxy - $5.94 (DO NOT get the quickset type)

  • (1) Steel wool, package of 6 - $1.94

  • (1) Mineral Spirit, quart - $2.47

  • (1) Pipe cutter - $8.83

  • (2) Rubber mallet - $3.97

Total - about $150 + tax

Click on any image 
for larger picture

Only buy straight copper pipe for this project. Trying to straighten out the soft rolled copper would be difficult. I would suggest shopping around to find inexpensive copper pipe. I probably could have saved five dollars buy doing so. Also, the more complicated the project, the more joints and pipe, and more money. I might have saved $20 or $30 dollars by doing a simple ladder-type project.

Several of my neighbors came by why I was cutting the pieces. They asked if I was going to solder the joints. I can't imagine how long that would have taken.

Step Two: Cut your copper

I followed the instructions on the website, dry-fitting all the pieces as I went. All I had for a cutting table was my ladder, which worked very well, thank you.

Left side of Arbor

Cutting table

Top of Arbor

Step Three: Clean your copper

Well, hindsight is 20/20. Do this first, before you cut your copper.

Step Four: Glue pieces together

Make sure everything still fits together correctly. I originally bought quick-setting copper bond. This was a bad idea. It's very difficult to wipe off excess material. It also sets quickly. So if you goof-up, which I obviously did, you can't undo it. Finding a way to quickly apply the epoxy to the pipe is a learned skill. Unfortunately, I really didn't figure it out until I was almost finished. Be sure to wipe of excess epoxy as you go. You will need a flat places to put everything together.

Everything fits

Mistake - bad glue

1 down, 2 to go

Top finished


When you are gluing the pieces together, do the insides first, then the outside. This picture should demonstrate a good way to do it.


Rain, Rain, Go Away!

It started raining again. Now my side yard it totally flooded. Oh, well. Not that big of a deal.

Step Five: Piece it all together and enjoy!

This project took me two full days to complete. Some of it was not having the right tools (vise), some of it was lack of expertise (none), and some of it was the complexity of the design (very). I'm glad I did it, but I won't do it again. Way too much work and expense. It's going to be cover in vines eventually, so I'm not sure it was worth the extra effort. But, I digress. I just need to find a bench to go underneath it, and I'm done.

Our conquering hero!
I'm Number One!
Yes, I know. I Rock!

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