Bespoke Metal Seating

Here’s John modelling a mild steel seat that we’re fabricating five off for a company in the Midlands.

They’re made made from 16mm mild steel and have yet to be finished/painted in copper/black. The little cross-pieces sticking out at the bottom are the bits that are to be sunk into some concrete and the curved bit is the actual front of the seat where you little legs dangle.

We had to get the bending done by Barnshaws in Manchester as 16mm is a bit on the thick side for us to do in-house. Hopefully, we’ll have some more pictures once they’re painted and a few more once they’ve been installed.

For the time being you can root around in the gallery to see some more pictures if that’s what you’d like to do.

But for putty, paint and glue…………

Following on from those zintec planters we fabricated for down London way, here’s a few pictures of the same planters at the painting shop prior to them being dispatched. It just so happened that the client wanted them filing cabinet grey but we can do them whatever darn colour you wish.

Three planters close-up

Here’s what one of the corners look like.

Here’s the full order nicely contained in a bit of bubble wrap.

As you can see, there’s quite a difference between the look of the planters prior and post painting.

Stainless Steel Planters as Toasters

I know, you get one little iddy biddy bit of sun and the same old advice is hauled out year after year. Well there’s probably a damned good reason for it, but considering things are sweltering at the moment it might be wise to remind you what to do with your stainless steel planters.

Imagine how toasty these beggars’ll get when the sun comes out!

The problem with stainless steel is that it conducts heat terribly well and can dry out a root system in no time at all. It’s also obviously a bigger problem with smaller than larger planters.

Subsequently, it’s not the daftest of ideas (if you’ve planted your planter) to move them into the shade at the warmest parts of the day. Or, you can just fill them with stones and what not for a while.

There’s only the hexagonal planters that come with a plastic plantpot liner that’s thick enough for you not to really worry about the heat. Other than that just keep your eye on them and everything should be alright.


Learning, Pruning and Growing

In the beginning there was stainless steel, and the stainless steel was good.

Tinpot Alley started as a very different beast to the one you see now. Its first manifestation came as a reaction to just one hexagonal planter Matt designed out of stainless steel that all of us kidded ourselves would be the killer product which lead us from rags to riches.

Being a bit green behind the gills we wanted to market the thing accordingly and quickly fell into the trap of giving the impression we were some huge stainless steel planter conglomerate.

Big mistake!

Planters Direct probably ticked all the wrong boxes in the wrong order. Essentially we were trying to impose a very small range of products until we’d heard enough. People were constantly asking us for different and varying sizes to what we were offering. Not only were we not too intent on listening, but we tried our best to stick to our guns.

It soon became apparent that there was quite a disconnect between what we wanted to offer and what we were asked if we could offer. In a way this is quite a blessing in disguise as it only required us to realign and cater to those requests.

It didn’t take long once we’d got our collective noggins round this to drop the whole Planters Direct cobblers. Let’s face it: we were never going to be the Amazon of the stainless steel planter world. If anything, we were confusing the issue by trying to offer exclusivity to the masses but at something of a premium.

Whilst this planter thing could operate as a fully-fledged business in its own right, the whole fabrication, production and design aspects fit fairly seamlessly into what Butler Sheetmetal Ltd already do. It’s very much an incorporated sideline if such a thing can exist.

Tinpot Alley was born out of a need to reflect a more customer oriented affair offering bespoke metalwork solutions for the home, garden and office. Does it not make more sense to fabricate 29 stainless steel planters to specific requirements than one or two so-called ‘products’ we’re trying to push? It keeps everybody happy.

I suppose we’ve been fortunate that we could make these mistakes without really impacting the customer. We’ve also been fortunate that it isn’t our core business. But, saying that, it’s playing a more vital and prominent role now than it ever has done.

We’ve decided to end up at the quality end of the market as it’s something we’ve always done and the quality end of the market also began to target us.

And who are we to argue?


We’re currently on the lookout for a fabrication jobshop in or around Cleveland, Ohio to fabricate some of our planters so we can actually accommodate the enquiries we receive from America.

If you’re interested you can read a bit more about it over at The Tinbasher.

However, that isn’t to say we’ll jump into bed with the first bunch who salute. It’s just that now I’m finally over in Cleveland for good, it just seems to make sense.

Remember folks – it’s quality not quantity!

Welded Buckminster Fullerene

Buckminsterfullerene stainless steel planter

According to this website:

Buckminsterfullerene is discovered by Sir Harold Kroto in the UK and Richard E. Smalley and Robert F. Curl, Jr in the US. These three researchers shared the 1996 Nobel prize in chemistry for their discovery. Buckminsterfullerene’s atoms are bonded together into a highly symmetrical, hollow polygon structure (resembling a sphere) with 60 vertices and 32 faces, 12 of which are pentagons and 20 of which are hexagons giving it the same geometry as that of a football. Named after the architect R Buckminster Fuller (Bucky) whose geodesic dome design is similar to the molecular structure of C60, these unique structures, also known as buckyballs, have led to an entirely new branch of chemistry.

Depending on whether you were dragged up or had a slightly more middle class academic upbringing, you will be inclined to regard the above planter as a fully welded football or as a stainless steel Buckminster Fullerene.

For the record, it should be noted that these were first cobbled together in response to an enquiry about footballs.

You can take a look at a few more pictures at the bottom of the page then cast your own vote.

Notice To American Folks Wanting To Get In Touch

You can ignore everything in this post as all is well. Call on 440-453-6125.

Could anybody getting in touch from America please get in contact via email initially. I’m currently changing cable packages and won’t be reconnected until next Wednesday (fingers crossed).

Now you may think that shouldn’t be any of your concern, but considering I solely use Skype as my phone service then it is when there’s only a dial-up connection to go through. You really don’t want to experience dial-up Skype.

So, if you could just email me at paul[at]tinpotalley[dot]com for the time being life would be sweet.

Sorry for any inconvenience but it’s only a temporary measure. I should hopefully have a new cell phone the beginning of next week.

Note: This is only for people wanting to get in touch from America.


UPDATE: We’re back up and running. You can ring to your heart’s content on 440-453-6125.