Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Building the Library of Justice: Part 3 - The Door

We've already covered the planning stage, where we learned the door to the library would need to be the entire facade of the Hall of Justice. In the construction phase, we sort of whipped through the door's development. So this is a little more in-depth look at how the door's look and construction was accomplished.

The Arch is Everything!
The door is pretty much the key ingredient in the library's design that lends to its overall look. My friend Joe had drafted several wonderful blueprints and we finally decided that the arch would need to be the door. (Note: some of what follows is a recap of that earlier design post, so I'll summarize.)

The arch and pillar design is based on the iconic headquarters of a certain team of superheroes, maybe you've heard of them--the Justice League!

The Hall of Justice as featured in the Super Friends cartoon, featuring Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, among others.

The action figure playset by Kenner had different dimensions and arch angle.
Joe used several references in his designs, but when it was time to construct the door for the Library of Justice, we used an amalgam of the proportions to maximize interior space without allowing the overall box and door becoming gargantuan. It turned out that the the block-y toy version provided a great basis for the arch curvature (though we did widen it out a bit from there).

A neat little bit of behind-the-scenes trivia: the Hall of Justice featured in hundreds of comics and cartoon episodes was itself modeled off of Cincinnati Union Terminal.

Fabricating the Facade
My father-in-law, Jon cut the facade from a piece of 2.5' square, .5" thick, piece of plywood using a jigsaw. He'd then added pieces of trim, layer-by-layer to help flesh out the pillars and window frames. He did all of this in about a week and I didn't see it until it was finished:

Jon's an incredible carpenter and he did an amazing job! The following week he brought me the box and door to sand and paint. I put (at least) two full coats on and did as much detail work as necessary to make sure all nooks and crannies were filled in. The really nerve-wracking part was still to come--the window glass...

Window Pane Horror!
Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the plexiglass that Jon picked up for the door, but it's about .25" thick and was around 2' square. I was there that day to assist and it was slow, frightful work. Every time he put blade to glass could have spelled doom for our big bright window pane.

To make the cuts, he basically scored the glass thoroughly enough that we could chip pieces off the sides. We'd tried an electric saw on the edge of the glass, but it melted and created a blob on the seam. So it was just an old-fashioned x-acto blade to the rescue. 

When it came to the curve he went even more slowly and scored in smaller increments to achieve the rounded top. We only had enough glass to try twice. After cutting through about 3/4 of the first pane, a huge spidery crack ruined our first attempt.

SO WE WENT EVEN SLOOOOWER on the second try. As you can see, we were eventually rewarded with success:

We sanded the glass edges a bit to make sure it was safe to handle and then secured the window in place using glue and mirror clips around the edges. I was quite proud to have contributed that idea!

Weather Proofing and Hardware
One of the biggest challenges in weather-proofing the door was deciding how it would keep water out. Jon had already shingled the roof to help with watershed, but we needed a tight seal between the door and the box. We played with a few options, but ultimately the weather stripping you see in the photo above (placed on the door as well as on the box) was the best option. As of this writing, the stripping has been successful, but it will likely need to be replaced at least annually.

We fastened the hinges and latch hardware to the door and--voila! We had a finished library box!

Standard, finished hinges - as large as we could manage - were used to secure the heavy-duty door.

A simple latch was chosen so that kids could gain access without much fuss.

Next in our series we'll take a look at how the library was mounted on its base and placed in our yard in: INSTALLATION!