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I can watch this How It’s Made style factory footage for hours. This beast is called a “gabion machine,” which seems to be a slight misnomer.  A “gabion” is a cage filled with sand or stone used in civil or military engineering, e.g. for erosion control. What this machine is actually making, of course, is wire mesh of the type used to make gabions, which a lot of people call “chicken wire.” Twisting all those strands at once requires a lot of power-check out the size of the crank. [via Boing Boing]


Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.



  1. David Seitz says:

    I wonder what the feeder/twister heads are made of? Has to be some serious material

    1. jamesskaar says:

      probably forged steel, with a half funnel shape at the mouth. at most, same material as the tubing benders you can get at the hardware store, just stronger, which forging does, but, that wire isn’t terribly strong, so it’s easy to bend.

  2. Brad Trotter says:

    I wish they showed how the process is initiated. When they have to restock the wire, the they manually put twists in by hand then turn the machine on?

  3. Hm. I’m having some issues with this video and noscript. Is it a youtube clip, or something else? Can’t really figure it out, who is blocking my access to this one :/

  4. Mike Vealey says:

    The one thing that always amazes me is not the things being made but the machines that make them. How do they make the machines that make the things being made. There can’t be a Gabions-R-Us out there somewhere, can there?

    1. Peter Simpson says:

      Apparently, there are companies that make these machines (and barbed wire, and chain link fencing, and who knows what else).  From a Google search, they all seem to be located in China.

    2. whomever the first person was to make a machine like that is probably wicked awesome with a rubik’s cube.  

  5. Brian Simmons says:

    Sean – this seems to be a case of which came first, the chicken wire or the gabion?

    Acutally the practice of using a lightweight mesh or net to hold together soil and aggregate as a solid barrier: a gabion, predates medival times.  

    I’m going to go ahead and assume that this mesh was developed for civil engineering purposes long before someone figured out that chickens couldn’t fit through the holes… so the fact that we know if more commonly as chicken wire, doesn’t necessarily make us right.

    (/Civil Engineering Rant)  
    Gabions are still used today as inexpensive alternatives to shoring steep slopes, or where very expensive retaining walls would be needed.  They’re labor intensive as the cages are usually built on site, tied together, and then filled one by one, or one row at a time.
    (/Rant Over)

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