This project comes from one of our customers.
Stylish… modern… easy maintenance… nice job, Michael!
The mullions and frames are constructed of poplar which is a good wood to use as it is harder and more stable than pine, but not as expensive as maple. This will allow for long straight pieces without fear of breakage. It also is lighter than other hardwoods making for a reasonable strength to weight ratio. I knew since the client was requesting they be painted black that the expense of better hardwood would be a waste. They can be produced using different species but I would only go that route if they were going to be stained, not painted.
To make production of the mullion strips easier, I purchased 1 x 6 D4S poplar then ripped them to the correct thickness using a really sharp, fine ripping blade. I also painted the 1 x 6’s prior to ripping which meant that I wouldn’t have to paint the narrow sides of each mullion. After ripping I only had to do 2 sides of each narrow piece instead of 4. If I did this again I would certainly have sprayed the mullions, it would have been so much faster than rolling. The reason I used a roller is because to spray such a narrow piece there would have been a tremendous amount of overspray and a waste of paint but looking back, the wastage would have offset the time it took to roller each piece. As it was I ganged up pieces together but it still took a good 2 days to paint all the pieces.
As for how to do it: I kept it simple in the design stage. The left and right panels are exactly the same, and the doors are both the same. For strength I planned on dadoing each mullion where they crossed over. This makes for an extremely rigid frame. By keeping the pieces similar in size all the dadoes on the verticals are identical, and there’s only two sizes of horizontal pieces. If you add them up there’s over 500 dadoes in total. To do them all I set up a jig on my table saw using a dado blade and a block set to the desired spacing. I then sat there all day running pieces through it. One thing that I would do differently is to buy over sized stock. It worked out that the dado blade cuts 1/32” over ¾” and the poplar is exactly ¾” thick. 1/32” isn’t a lot but after cutting 7, that’s almost ¼” difference, quite a big difference on the last one. After running a few test pieces through, I adjusted the spacing so the last dado to be cut was only 1/8” out. Not a big visual difference.
Another thing I did was make sure the frosted acrylic panels were slightly smaller than the frames they were being mounted to. I knew the location they were to be mounted to wasn’t plumb or level ((3” out of level over 15 feet) so if there was any deflection in the frame, I couldn’t install the acrylic. So when I installed the acrylic panels I just shimmed them (semi) square and attached the mullion assembly on the back side.
One thing that made the job a whole lot easier was the fact that the panels are made up of complete 5 ‘ x 80” acrylic panels with mullion assemblies front and back. The customer originally wanted individual acrylic pieces which would have been even more tedious to build and install. Plus the cost of producing the mullions etc would be astronomical and 5 times their budget. One draw back to this is if they ever damage one area, it will be hard to replace. So I advised the customer to NOT damage it and to only clean it with a swiffer duster.
I used KN Crowder track to handle the sliding doors. They are easy to install, easy to adjust and are light but very sturdy. Plus very smooth operating.
Cochrane Custom Cabinets and Carpentry firstname.lastname@example.org
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