Bolts of Progress!

Now that I am somewhat back to normal (OK, no wise-cracks!) I have been able to make some decisions, and also some progress. One of the things that has been holding me up is costs, but I now have that resolved.

I checked with the local lumberyard and found that regular A-C, 3/4-inch plywood is now up to $30.99 a sheet! Wow! The last time I bought any, it was about $16 a sheet! But I always try to have a plan “B”.

A couple years ago, I had purchased eight sheets of 3/8-inch plywood as temporary covers for some custom rough-sawn cedar-framed windows I was building for one of my customers. After we installed the glass, I didn’t really have a use for the plywood, except to use it to hide everything around the edges of the garage when we had our garage sales. It’s actually C-D plywood, which is a little “knottier” than A-C grade, but I have it, and it will work… but I have to double it.

In other words, I’m going to have to cut six pieces, instead of three, and glue the pairs of matching sizes together. To do this I will buy a large bottle of Elmer’s Wood Glue, pour a sufficient quantity on both facing surfaces and use an old paint brush to spread it out evenly. The trick is to make sure that everything stays flat, so I will lay the pieces on the garage floor and stack some heavy boxes on them until they set up. Elmer’s Wood Glue dries fairly fast (within an hour or so in most cases), but because of the size of these pieces and the fact that it will take longer to air dry toward the middle of the sheets, I’ll give them a few hours to make sure they’ve bonded properly and uniformly.

I need that extra thickness because the back of the reclining couch/bed is the weakest point. There isn’t much support for it except down low. The top has to be free to recline, but yet it needs to stay stiff and straight, which is why I was going to make the whole thing out of 3/4-inch stock. The only stiffener at the top will be the piano hinge holding the back section to it. Once it’s laid down into a bed, the frame will take care of the support.

The only other thing I need to do, and I can cut my own from scrap or buy it ready made,  is install some edging pieces to go around the plywood. This isn’t critical, but will help keep the edges from splintering and causing problems. I’m going to use 3/4-inch wide by 3/16ths thick screen door lattice. It will be glued on and held with wire brads everywhere except under the piano hinges. Those edges won’t be exposed to damage, so it’s not needed there.

The reason I will use the thicker material rather than rolled, iron-on veneer strip, is because it will let me round the corners slightly with a sander without getting into the plywood. I don’t want to take chances on banging a shin into the corner of the bed or couch and take out a chunk of skin! ALWAYS think safety when building anything!

Speaking of piano hinges, that was another eye-opener! They wanted almost $15 for only a 4-foot hinge at the local lumber yard! I knew I had some around here somewhere, but hadn’t found them in the garage. Today, the weather was actually pretty nice (almost 70 degrees and sunny) so I went out to the storage shed, where I knew I had some racks on the wall for long stuff, and sure enough! There they were! I had to move a few things to get to them, but that’s better than spending $30 for new hinges! In fact I had a couple extra, so they might come in handy for something else in the near future!

Keep in mind, the ones I have are basic aluminum over a spring steel wire. If you want to get fancy, they also come in many other colors including stainless steel, chrome, and brass. I would have ordered stainless steel ones online if I had to buy some, but these are what I have, and they’ll work. Aluminum is softer and sometimes will wear off and leave dark smudges on fabrics, so that’s the main reason I wasn’t going to use them. But you can always put some tape over the hinges to keep that from happening, and it’s a cheaper remedy!

So now all I have to buy for the bed platform is the proper size and number of screws for the piano hinges, and a matching number of tee-nuts, which will hold the back side of the screws while remaining flush with the plywood surface. I noticed the screw holes in these hinges are about 6-inches apart, but I’m going to drill some extra holes between those, for added strength. I’ll have pictures of all this once I start the work.

Tee-nuts are used a lot in furniture making, and they’re available from most hardware stores, back in the aisle with the screws and bolts, and usually in those little flat assortment trays full of odd parts that sit on top of the bins. You want to pick the right size flat head (or button head) screw to fit the hinge first, and no longer than the plywood is thick. Then buy the correct size tee-nut to fit the screw. I like to use those for high stress points because ordinary screws will sometime pull loose in soft wood like pine. You can also get a small tube of Loc-Tite at any automotive store and that will add a thick seal around the threads to keep the screw from loosening up. It comes in several grades, so use the appropriate type.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (house), my wife had some extra time to start on the cushions. We had a bolt of white cloth that she had bought to make a “picture-panel” skirt out of a few years ago. (We had photo-imaging equipment and a business to do T-shirts, mugs and about a hundred other products when we were in Mesa). We aren’t sure anymore exactly what it is, but it’s basically the same as any western-style shirt would be made from. If we hadn’t had that on hand, we were going to buy some inexpensive sheets at Wal Mart. Anyway, that’s what we’re using for the slip covers for the cushions. This will help protect the foam from damage, and also make it easier to get them into and out of the outer upholstery fabric covers.

So far, she has one nearly done, and we slipped the cushion into it, just to try it for size. It fits very snug, but yet doesn’t compress the foam, so that’s perfect.

Cushion Covers 1

The upper right cushion has it's slip cover on.

She still has to attach the end panel yet, which was originally going to have a zipper in it, until we discovered we didn’t have enough slides to go with the length of zipper material we had! So now she is going to use flaps on the slip covers and some small snaps to close the ends.

And for the outside, we had some material left from a previous van conversion project, so we’re going to use that. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but it’s actually rust red and tan. Since the interior of our minivan is tan leather, it should go nicely. It would have been even a step better if the material were dark green and tan, since our minivan is dark green, but it will have to do. These cushions WILL have zippers in the ends, so they can be removed for cleaning, or in case we get tired of stripes!

Cushion Fabric 1

The color is actually rust red and tan, with hints of gray.

We debated about whether to make the stripes go with the length of the cushions or vertically, and I think we have decided vertical is better.

So now that Sharon is getting busy on the cushions, I need to take advantage of this mild winter and the 60-degree days, and get the platform done! We all have our own style of bolts to work with!