The Swanson Custom Copper Chimney Cap Details & Photo Page

Waco, Texas (10-11/09)
Updated 12-14-2009

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This set of 2 copper chimney caps were for Gordon Swanson in Waco, Texas installed over their wood chimney boxes covered with cultured stone work. These are nearly the same size, but one has an 8/12 pitch hipped roof, where the other one has a steeper 12/12 pitch. They wanted these built in my Tuscany arch style that seems so popular.

He first contacted me 3/14/09 and waited for a few months before working out the details of project through e-mails and put down the 1/3 deposit for this work.

I designed the roof line to resemble their house with hipped structure, so this will look more like what the architect might have designed for this house. The client approved this design and are very pleased with the results. We discussed aesthetic options like adding 2" wider roof that the base/skirt all around.

Here's the hardwood boards for the base/skirt being cut with 45 degree corners and 30 degree edges on the top and bottom for a drip edge.

Here's the 4 pieces of Ipe hardwood support frame I need to build inside these copper base pieces that helps anchor this down in high wind storms. Each board has been cut on 4 sides at an angle. They are positioned down low where it should not suffer heat from the chimney. The hardwood is glued inside the copper with the expanding Gorilla glue. It is also held in place with long rivets and I varnished the inside of the hardwood to keep it dry.

Above left you can see the base/skirt formed. To the right shows the pan that seals the middle and supports the 15" flue pipe and there is a channel along the edges that the stainless steel screen sits into. Below left shows the cross braces that help support the pan to make sure it will never sag and allow puddling water inside.

Below is the base/skirt from underneath. I have the clear plastic film removed where the seams will overlap and where columns will go over this structure.

This shows part of the arched columns being laid out on the sheet of copper. There is a good deal of math and geometry involved here, so it's all in the right proportion and the bottom of the columns can sit right on the angled base. Below right shows the 4 inside liner of the arches formed for this 1 chimney cap.

 It took us a few days just to build this set of columns and arches. Then there was the decorative piping to attach to each column. Each corner column required a pipe that was about 30" long. It took the most all of two 10' pipes for these chimney caps.

I've cut and bent the 16 gauge stainless steel screen to set into a channel along the inside rim of the bases. These screens are what I get my hands lacerated on more than any other aspect of my work, so it's important to cover all the edges of this SS screen, so these are safe for anyone else once these are complete. I happen to get one of the deepest gashes while working with these screens after I had cut them and was just turning to leave and caught the edge of a jagged cut. The SS screen is secured to the base through the 3 layers of copper with dozens of longer rivets.

Then there is the roof support braces to make and attach with SS screws and copper rivets. I believe this is a very important detail for large chimney caps like these, which is not done by other sheet metal shop. At least from what I've seen. I try to make these so they'll hold up to any sort of harsh weather they may encounter over the next century.

 The column set of the second chimney cap is attached to it's base with 28 SS screws and around 100 rivets. Then several hundred rivets needed inside to fasten the screen to the back of the columns and arches. These add a great deal of strength and stability to this structure once attached. The sides of these arches no longer will flex more than a 1/8" now.

 

Then the eaves are made and attached, which adds a lot more strength to this arched column set. Then there is a couple days setting up the roof bracing again. They also help keep the eaves from sagging under the weight of the roof skin and what ever may rest on it.

Then these were ready for the copper roof skins to go over these braces and attach under the eaves. I made them as seamless as possible, so they needed these diamond shaped covers folded over the top.

I kept track of the weights of each part for the final cost; the taller one was 205# and the shorter one was 198.5# when complete, so the final calculations of what the cost are for these after subtracting the weight of the wood and SS screen gives me the weight of the copper. I had given them a discount for this being such a large order. Weights and cost breakdown of these pieces are as follows.

Taller Chimney Cap:

  • $150 - for the wood saddle

  • + $185.04 - 5/4 x 6 hardwood frame inside the base/skirt - 15.42 ln', 34.4#

  • + $316.40 - SS screen - 15.82 sq', 11.1#

  • + $3,190 - copper sheet metal - 127.6 sq', 159.5#

  • + $400 for the crate

  • + $350 - shipping cost

  • = $4,566.44 total

    Shorter Chimney Cap:

    • $150 - for the wood saddle

    • + $188.04  - wood frame inside the base/skirt - 15.67 ln', 34.4#

    • + $323.80 - SS screen - 16.19 sq', 11.3#

    • + $3,056 - copper sheet metal - 122.4 sq', 152.8#

    • + $400 for the crate

    • + $325 - shipping cost

    • = $4,267.84 total

      $9,034.28 grand total - $2,500 in volume discounts and another $285.72 less than the original quoted price.

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Below is a photo of our
Better Business Bureau's
NW Business Integrity Award
for the year 1998

1999 Better Business Award

We were also a 1997 finalist for this same award. See our referral web page to see how we managed to be honored with this special award

 

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