Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Studio Door Handles

Six or eight months ago we bought some old solid wood Moroccan pirate cabin doors from some nice folks we met through Craigslist. Going down to pick the doors up is a story all its own. It was an hour and a half drive to go and get them each way. The folks selling them were so impressed we even showed up they knocked $25 off the price just for showing up. I don't think they got too many visitors out where they live. I thought we were going to end up spending the night talking our ears off. Finally we managed to break away and ran smack into some serious traffic. It took over three hours to get home. These old doors looked like they were starting off on the wrong foot.
Over the holiday break I finally got around to hanging the pirate captains doors between the studio and the shop. The noise and dust from the shop are infiltrating their way into the art areas so something had to be done. I had run out of excuses for not hanging the doors and sealing the opening. Time to get it done.
Had to suit up in my woodchuck outfit and bang some nails. For this stuff its necessary to turn the machinist measurement resolution to fractional otherwise I will drive myself nuts.
Mary the mannequin watches as I get the framing roughed in for the doors and a Craigslist picture window above.
Doing my best to make a custom jam for the double doors and get them hung in a way that all my construction buddies won't laugh at me. You see, humiliation is an excellent motivator to do your best at something you don't do all the time.
So far so good. They actually swing and act like doors. Somebody had abused the latch and lock area's pretty badly. We decided we wanted some custom door pulls for this special project to cover the chowdered holes. We kicked a few ideas around and finally decided to make something that look like the handwheels on an etching press. My wife does printmaking and etching in this area so this made some sense.
If you follow the blog then you might remember a test of an idea to fabricate the handles for these very doors. The idea was to make some spoked wheels that look like handwheels. We ended up abandoning that path in favor of one much easier on the back.
We made a run to the salvage yard up in Petaluma to have a look for some likely candidates for the door handles. No luck finding something in the diameter range we wanted and the prices were starting to make fabrication a viable alternative.
On a whim we checked out e-bay. As luck would have it we found just what we were looking for. As a huge bonus the seller had four our them. This saved me quite a bit of fab work and they actually look better than newly fabricated handles would. I thought it was odd they have five spokes. I can't think of seeing any others like these before. They are handles off some kind of large valve. Now all that was needed were some custom designed mounting hardware.
The short spuds are to space the handwheels off the face of the doors. Whatever valves these handles came off had threaded stems. I really didn't feel like threading the mounting spuds so they were turned to fit the thread ID. When the valves were in their original job the wheel was locked to the stem with two grub screws threaded into the pitch line of the stem. I needed to cover these up with some kind of decorative bezel so I spun out some special brass washers to do the job.
Turn face and drill screw clearance.
Bore ID for button head screw recess. The boring tool is one from the Criterion boring head.
Corner radius with form tool.
Part off to length.
Now come the escutcheon plates. I had some steel flat bar around that was just wide enough to cover the lock hole abuse these doors had suffered in the past. Because of the diameter of the handwheels and the door spacing it was necessary to mount the handwheels offset on the plates.
For simple hole layouts I like to use a pair of hermaphrodite calipers. This is a weird fancy name for a pair of calipers that has two different legs. The pair in the picture are a set I made from some dividers that I reground the legs. I find them fast and convenient for layouts close to an edge where you use the same setting quite a few times. In this case the holes for the mounting screws which were all located the same distance from both edges.
The steel spuds mounted to the escutcheon plates with a plug weld from the backside. I used a neat set of spot weld rotabroaches meant to be used in a hand held drill. They cut clean accurate holes up to three eighths thick and up to three quarters inch diameter.
The plates needed some kind of finish on them. I really didn't want to paint them  but I also don't want them to rust. I decided to use the oxy acetylene torch and give them a heated finish. Just enough to burn off any crud and discolor the material a little. The plates are just mounting hardware and shouldn't be the main focal point of the door handle.
This is just before the heat finishing on the escutcheon plates. Just checking the handle spacing and look.
Mounting the handles to the doors. My wife has already been hard at work with the paint scheme. You can see some of the heat finish in this picture. To preserve the look I used a couple of coats of wax to protect the finish. We will see how long it lasts.
This is the normal position for the fine art studio doors. Open and inviting.
Closed for the day position. The pattern on the door is slightly different on each side. There are small round features on the presentation side. I guess this would normally be the inside surface. I didn't want to re-cut the hinge mortises in the doors so this is the direction they were hung. It was actually the better direction for our application since they will normally be open and showing the fancier side.
View from the inside. Getting that window up there is another story. Time for some drywall and door trim. Almost everything was recycled building materials sourced over the internet.

Thanks for looking.


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