Burr Oak farmer-rancher has an iron clad hobby

Gale Jeffery, rural Burr Oak, has found a unique ironclad hobby featuring agricultural history. Six years ago this cow-calf operator and semi retired farmer started making shelves and tables as a place to display his hunted mounts. As people saw Jeffery's creations, his hobby began to grow. Now it keeps him occupied in his spare time. His tables, shelves and stools are unique because they are made out of cast iron, incorporating mostly old antique farm items. Since Jeffery is a farmer-rancher, he enjoys ways to feature the once used agriculture items. His created tables are all sizes and shapes, and are used as coffee tables, patio tables and end tables.

The base of the tables may be what was once the iron base of a cream separator, an iron wheel off a horse drawn mower, or even an old iron water pump. The top of a table can be a wooden spoke wheel that came off a Model T car and later covered with glass showing the wooden spokes. The table top could be an old iron furnace grate.

Other items incorporated into his tables might include a horse drawn stalk drill wheel, an iron platform scale, iron coffee grinder wheels, or an iron hot water heater as a base. Iron furnace grates or vents of all sizes are used a lot for the shelf and table tops. An iron base of a pedal sewing machine can also find a place at the bottom of Jeffery's tables.

Jeffery doesn't like to use reproduction iron pieces in his creations, "I like to work with the old rusty iron." He has even named his hobby as "Rusty Iron Art." Jeffery doesn't like to clean his iron too much. He said, "I want to leave the patina but some would term it as just rust."

Jeffery designs and plans his cast iron creations. "I don't like to make custom items but I have done a few." He also doesn't like to paint any of his creations as he likes it to be original. Most of the iron items he incorporates are 80 to 100 years old. He believes he is preserving history with his creations.

The iron items he uses come mostly from savage yards and farm sales. An electric drill with a wire brush, toothbrushes along with cleaning vinegar are used to do what cleaning needs to be done. A hand grinder is used to do the cutting. The creations are then welded together. Depending on his spare time, it usually takes about a week to complete a project. He said, "No two are alike."

His most challenging creation was a table top using a large wheel. An old lightning rod cable was wound around in the center with a cast iron stove door that featured a Native American Chief placed in the center. It was all covered with a glass top. Jeffery warned his cast iron creations are heavy and he tells people to watch out when they walk close to one of his tables or stools. "The tables and stools don't give, but if they are out on a patio, the winds can't blow them away."

Jeffery's creations have gone to 12 states. One went to a country western singer, Brantly Gilbert.

When Jeffery isn't working with his cattle or making his iron creations, he is doing his second hobby - hunting. He and his wife Kathleen live on a farm northwest of Burr Oak, in his home area of Northbranch. They have a blended family of six sons and daughters, 10 grandchildren, and one-great-grandchild.

 

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