Monday, June 12, 2006
Catwalk construction details
Here are some detailed construction shots on my catwalk accessory. It's constructed totally out of standard hardware-store materials. The most exotic stuff is the plastic "gutter guard" grating (meant to keep leaves and trash out of house gutters) that I used as the base of the catwalk.
You can see in this photo that there's a bit of sag at this point. I hadn't decided if I should add the second railing or not, and if it should be a complete railing, or have a pass-through. The sag decided it. These railings contribute a huge part of the strength of the catwalk, turning it into a "U" shaped beam and keeping it stiff, despite its fragile appearance.
From this angle, you can see the railing and lower supports, all made from rectangular molding picked up in the lumber department. This stuff is cheap, easy to work with, and has all sorts of 1/6th applications. Most of the cutting (for precision, and so I didn't have to keep going back and forth to the shop while I worked on this) was done with an Xacto razor saw and miter box. I used the same tools to cut the threaded rod used for the railing uprights.
Here's a detail of the railing support. Threaded rod, nuts, washers, that's all they are. Note the nuts above and below the railing, and also above and below the bottom rail. To make sure the holes lined up between the bottom rail and the hand-rail, I clamped them together and drilled them both at once.
Here's a detail from underneath. As you can see, I can shoot photos from below as well as above or the side. The perforated plastic also casts interesting shadows, making for dramatic lighting. The plastic itself is thin and rather flexible. The wooden railings along both sides, as well as the wooden handrails, provide most of the strength.
Another view from below. Notice the cross-pieces (one at each end, one in the middle), and the fact that one railing sits on TOP of the plastic, while the other fits inside a molded grove on that side. You'll be able to see this better in the end-detail shot.
Here's the end. You can see how the molded-in grove grips one of the lower rails, and how the other is bolted on top of the flat plastic.
The whole thing was done in just a few hours working in front of the television. The tools included the afore-mentioned saw and miter-box, an electric drill, a tape measure, a few spring clamps, some pliers, and a box-end wrench to tighten the nuts. I finished it off with a few spray-coats or reddish-brown primer.
Most anyone should be able to duplicate this project with pretty minimal effort. If you don't need a catwalk, think of it as a balcony, ship railing, boarding gangway, or foot-bridge.