- Written by Daniel Livingston
Earlier this year we redid part of our basement, the part of the basement which contains our wall mounted LCD TV and the corner with my computers. I like to call this part of the house The Helm as it is where I compute and if anything could be considered the central brain of the house, this is the place. At the far end of this area sits an entry into my shop.
My shop area, as with many homes, is combined with the laundry area. There are two entry ways into it, and this is considered a secondary entrance as it's farthest from the stairs. For years it had a plastic accordion style door, which usually remained open as I would pass in and out from my computer to my shop frequently.
Now, my wife was in charge of the new look and decor of the room, but I wanted to add a few touches and some geekiness to it. The two steam punk lamps I built were for this room so I thought a door in the same style would look better than the old plastic door, which was pretty much broken from all the years of use.
Searching the internet, I found several very elaborate examples of steam punk doors. Most were way beyond my limited wood working skills. But I was able to take note of some key features I liked and could incorporate into my door. Those included the following;
- It had to slide open (mainly because it would be open most of the time and I wanted to see the front)
- It needed a round window
- Brass, there had to be some brass
- Round steam valve shutoff wheel for the handle
- The color had to accent the room (my wife insisted)
Sliding barn-door style hardware is expensive. Apparently it's all the rage with rich folk and expensive homes. One could easily spend $800 on the hardware alone. I found a cheaper alternative at my local big-box store. It's called Box Rail Sliding Door Hardware. For less than $100, I purchased the track (box rail), hanging roller, a "stay roller" door guide for the floor and a door bumper to keep the door parked when open.
|Sliding Door Hardware|
|Box Rail||1 (6 ft)||Stanley||5116|
|Box Rail Hanger Rollers||2||Stanley||5040|
|Single Box Steel Rail Brackets||3||Stanley||DP51FBC|
This hardware is sold for small barn and shed doors (I think), so it's no frills, unpainted galvanized steel and not really meant for indoors. I planned on painting everything Oil Rubbed Bronze to match some light fixtures we had purchased for the room. I was sure to degrease them first as my hands were quite black after handling them from whatever coating they had on them.
Next I searched eBay, as I always do, checking out round valve shut-off wheels and looking for a round window. It's not easy finding a round window. There were brass portholes-a-plenty, but that was not quite the look I was going for. I wanted steam punk but not modern day nautical. After striking out looking for a plain round window, I settled on a brass porthole that I figured I could use as a starting block for my round window.
The shut-off wheel was easy, but not as cheap as I would have liked. Like I found when searching for steampunk lamp parts, eBay sellers have noticed the "steampunk" trend and have started tagging items with the term. This makes it easy to find, but forces up the prices. Also, with such heavy parts, shipping is sometimes 50% of what your purchase price was. So a $20 shut-off wheel turns into a $30 purchase. I actually ended up buying two different shut-off wheels not knowing which would look better. And, that's OK since I already had plans for whichever one I had left over.
While searching for brass steampunky items on eBay, I came across this neat old brass doctor's name plaque. The kind you mounted outside an office on the wall or door. It was big and heavy. The name on the plaque had an "Abby Normal" (from the movie Young Frankenstein) ring to it, so I bought. It was one piece of solid brass, so the letters and the background were all the same color, with no contrast. But, since they were raised up so much, I was able to pour some semi-flat black paint into the blank space around the letters.
After it dried I had a nice contrast between the letters and the background. The thick brass boarder framed it well. It also turns out that if you pour on semi-flat black paint too thick, it dries glossy. Who knew?
Next I tackled the porthole. The hinged front part had to go. It reminded me of a toilet seat. I decided to keep the two latches though as they added to the industrial look. Next I fashioned three vertical bars from acrylic. I love acrylic as you can cut, drill, tap or glue it. Great stuff! I had seen another steam punk door with a round window and it had vertical bars protecting the glass. That was the look I was going for. I gave them a tapered end, trying to achieve an art-deco sort of look. I epoxied them to the brass frame and gave the whole thing a few coats of primer and then some semi-flat black paint. While it looked pretty good, it was missing something. So I added some brass colored paint to the front edge of the vertical bars, giving them a little contrast and letting them stand out. It's funny that I painted over the real brass but painted on some fake brass. Go-figure.