At the time of my last posting I had only 2 sections of my Musical PVC Bench completed. Again, many thanks to the TC Makers volunteers who helped me get to that point!
Every section is now welded together. You can see in the attached photo that I still have some sanding to do (mostly of excess PVC cement) and that it will need to be painted in order to hide markings and solvent stains as well as to protect it from the sun.
Anyone interested in volunteering to help with final steps will be welcomed. Remaining steps are sanding, spray painting, finishing paddles, attaching paddles, welding/cutting metal anchors & bolting sections together by Sept 22.
A couple of weeks ago I posted an invitation to join my effort to build a musical bench of PVC. Thank you to TC Makers Becca, Bill D, Bob G, Colleen, Jon, McSteve, Roxanne, Scott and Shawnuk for their generous help over the past 2 weekends.
Because of them I now have a paddle prototype, 4 sections cut, 2 sections in welding progress and one section complete!
My original plan was to have the bench finished by last night—not even close! Several complications arose as we started to build:
1. Two circles = 0 surface area
Fellow TC Maker, Steve M, pointed out to me that before I began solvent welding, it would strengthen the bond if I increased the surface area where each pipe intersects.
I tried using the band saw to shave off some of the pipe exterior and flatten the places where each pipe meets another but that was really messy and slow.
Bill D generously made a jig for me to use with a router which tremendously speeded the process back up.
2. Four inch diameter pipes are not musical
My friend Shawnuk stopped by the Hack Factory to help me work out details before I geared up to start building. As soon as he saw my 4” diameter pipe samples, he pointed out that they would have to be much taller than bench height in order to make a musical note.
We tested this out and he was right. Luckily, I had purchased only one pipe. Recognizing that a 2” diameter pipe would probably work, I had to re-draw my design in Sketchup. In order to keep the bench reasonably large, I now need to solvent weld 270 pieces!
3. Welding pipes takes TLC
TC Maker, Colleen, can solvent weld better than anyone else I know. She showed me that although bungee cords and rubber bands can be helpful to hold pipes together as they dry, as the welded section grows there is no substitute for just holding the pipes in place until they are dry enough to stand on their own. This really slows the overall process when I am working alone.
Please stay tuned for future volunteer opportunities!
Last week I promised to discuss the influence of Chuck Taylor shoes on my chair design. However, I need to take a short break from my rocker to create a bench for a block-improvement effort in the Dayton’s Bluff Community.
In this post, I will describe the bench design and invite you to help build it! Interested? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
All participants will learn how to solvent weld PVC. The skill is used to build many exciting maker projects from potato launchers to musical instruments like the ones played by the Blue Man Group. In fact, the bench that we build can be used both for rest and to play a few tunes while waiting for the bus!
To make construction easier, I designed the bench in 6 sections. Each section is 39 inches long and 19 inches wide. Five of the sections are identical (just oriented differently) and one section is unique. Once I have all of the sections on site, I will bolt 3 pipes from each section to 3 pipes in an adjacent section.
The design uses PVC pipes of 5 different lengths with the longest pipes serving as the legs of the bench. Standard bench height is 18 inches and each section of the bench has four 18 inch-long pipes. Placement of these bench legs will be important for balance and stability.
Hey, thanks for checking out my blog! Last week I promised to write about creating the exterior of my chair. Below, I describe my thought process around editing the seat shape, choosing a color and an exterior finish. I also discuss the mistakes I made and how I corrected them.
First, I needed to ensure that the ergonomic seat I had just carved from spray foam and covered in body filler would be comfortable for any adult. Minne-faire was approaching, so I decided to display my unfinished chair in order to collect some data about the comfort level of the seat and whether or not I needed to edit the shape. My carving mistake was quickly revealed: every woman who tried the seat loved it and every man found the back half of the center ridge too high! Oops! Luckily, that was an easy fix.
Second, I considered the color. I could not decide between bright orange and white so when I invited visitors to try out the seat, I also asked them to vote for a color. Their choice was clear: classic bright red!
Third, for a sleek, contemporary look I decided to give the chair a fiberglass finish. Most of the chair received one layer of fiberglass and 4-5 layers of resin. The seat and back were coated with 3 layers of fiberglass cloth and 5 layers of resin. Between each layer I sanded the resin from 80-150-220 grit which turned out to be a mistake. Each non-final layer of resin should only be sanded to 80 grit so that the next layer will easily adhere.
The extra sanding did help by yielding a perfectly smooth surface before applying the next layer of resin. However, despite the smooth application surface, each new layer of resin consistently produced substantial mars & dents. I seemed unable to pour a smooth layer of resin which made me wonder if I was ever going to be happy with the finish.
I thought that using fiberglass resin would negate the need to paint the chair because the resin can be tinted with universal pigments (the kind that your local paint store uses). The hardware store where I bought the resin threw in the pigment for free and I combined them in a plastic bucket. The resin color looked perfect in the bucket! But once on the chair I realized that resin is super translucent because it contains no opaque base. Therefore, the 2 different colors of body filler I used on the seat were very visible, even through 3 layers of fiberglass cloth and resin!
If I ever do this again, I will make sure that the color of my chair before laminating is consistent throughout. With an even-colored base, the tinted resin and fiberglass cloth would have been adequate coverage. Still, to get a smooth surface I would have to spray the resin rather than pour or brush it on.
The difficulty in achieving a smooth surface combined with the translucency of the resin made me realize that I must paint the chair. After pricing High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) paint spray guns ($180), primer spray guns ($50), paint ($100), and the rest of the equipment I would need to do the job myself, I decided to save some money and have my chair painted at an auto body shop ($250). But this will be my final step and there is a lot more to do before I get there.
Over the next several weeks I will post photos of my rocking-chair project as it progresses. I welcome your feedback and hope that you will help me find a name for this chair.
My design is inspired by 2 sources: the Frank Lloyd Wright Origami Chair and the Converse All Star sneaker. I’ve always wanted to re-design the Origami Chair as an updated, cool lounger. The Converse reference came later, after hours of observation, when it struck me (and my friend Ann who stopped by the Hack Factory for a critique session), that my placement of masking tape around the rockers was reminiscent of a pair of red sneakers (more on this in a future post).
A few years ago I made a large, black lacquered version of FLW’s Origami Chair and I kept one for my own home.
Using the chair at my home, I started my new chair by tracing a pattern onto poster board. Then, I made another pattern about 2/3 the size of the large one, tweaked the proportions and used that pattern to cut the plywood.
Once I assembled the plywood pieces I carved an ergonomic seat and back out of spray foam. To create a smooth surface, I covered the carved foam in body filler and then did a lot of sanding.
Next week I will discuss the main design problem with FLW’s Origami Chair and whether or not I solved it.