Thursday, January 7, 2010

Stairway to Nowhere

Like the Bridge to Nowhere, this is a set of stairs to nowhere. That's because there are only three steps. Where you going to go with only three steps? I can tell you that you're only 22" off the ground so you're going nowhere fast :)

But it does support your weight. Or at least my weight... precariously. :)

Here's what it looked like as of Tuesday night. That's when I realized that the middle holes were wider than the 1x8's I had. By the way, 1x8 is not 1" by 8". No. For whatever reason. If you want to know why click here.

So I started this project with the following sketch:

Does it suck? Sure does. Know why? Because I have no idea what I'm doing. And for once, I really mean I have no idea what I'm doing. I looked online but most sites referred to actual applications of staircases and what not. Nothing like what I needed.

What did I need? Basically a set prop. Some white box steps. Something I'd seen in pictures by other photographers. Where was I going to get something like this? Probably custom made by a set construction company and shell out a couple hundred dollars that I didn't have. In retrospect a set construction company would have quoted me about $400-500 for this because of the materials and man hours. I'll break it down for you in a bit.

To make matters worse, halfway to Home Depot I scrapped my design. I figured, "I ought to design the steps as a single unit and not as 3 separate boxes. That way you can save weight and make it fundamentally more solid" The problem is I don't have the mental capacity to envision something of that depth and then realize it on a pen and paper in the car. Plus I was too anxious to get in and out of Home Depot. Sure, I don't mind being at Home Depot, but the sun was setting and I needed to get moving.

So I stuck with the original plan but bought more than I needed of everything. Mental note: Never ever buy crooked wood. It just makes everything harder. Your rotary saw skills are bad enough not to mention your ability to measure stuff. Oh and by the way, you need to throw that yardstick away because it's also crooked. Yeah, I don't know how you built this thing with rotten tools either...

Armed with lumber, nails, tie plates and screws. I got to work and got this before I called I needed wider wood for the steps. I'm sure my neighbors were already wondering, "What the hell is Charles doing sawing stuff at 8PM?"

So yesterday I go to OSH (because HD is farther) and bought wider wood. First of all, OSH has better wood. Second of all, OSH is very very expensive compared to HD. Sucks for me, but I was not driving to HD in traffic at rush hour. So I got home and sawed and nailed in the steps.

Now you're probably wondering. How am I going to make this thing white?

During my last trip to HD, I bought this wall covering stuff that's thin and white and washes easily. Comes in a 4x8' form and costs $20. If anyone really wants to know I'll look harder or give you the product SKU. I figured I'd cut it to size and nail it in.

I figured right. The only part I didn't foresee was how hard it'd be to cut it to size...

I spent 5 hours cutting and nailing all the different panels onto the box. My hands hurt. I got frustrated yesterday and went to bed because I couldn't deal with how difficult it was to cut with scissors (later I opted to use a blade which works MUCH better). My yardstick is destroyed. But when everything was said and done. I wound up with this:

I spent about $90 on materials but over 12 hour of labor. Now I know why I would have spent $400-500 on something like this. Hell, I probably would have charged more if I made it. It's 30" wide 22" tall and 24" deep. It weighs a TON. Well not really, but let's just say it's not easy to haul around comfortably, primarily because it has no handles and it's a little too wide for my wingspan (holding opposite corners). But it supports my body weight at 155 pounds.

Will it do what I want? I don't know. Only time will tell. But it sure feels like I've been doing more carpentry than I've done photography...

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