Thursday, July 3, 2014

Invisibility, covered

This post originally appeared on Windborne in Puget Sound

It's funny, isn't it?  How if you look at something long enough, it becomes invisible.  Even if it is surpassingly ugly, you eventually cease to see it.

Eolian's blinds are a case in point.  Having blinds is a neat idea - even neater, these were custom made for the windows.  And the installer made a good materials choice, with plastic louvers instead of metal ones.  But unfortunately he did a pretty poor job aesthetically.  Covering the blinds with valances has been on the list since, well since we got Eolian.

First, it was necessary to procure the materials for the valances:  six pieces of teak, 4' x 4" x 1/2".  Then there was a lot of thinking.  I had two conflicting design criteria:
  • There should be no visible screws
  • The valances should be removable for full access to the blinds and windows
So screwed and plugged fasteners were out, since they wouldn't be removable without requiring complete refinishing of the valances.  As it turned out, there were four types of areas, each requiring a different mounting solution:
  • Where the valances met the over-sink cabinet
  • Where the valances met the wire chase coming up from the nav station
  • Where the valance terminates against the wall behind the nav station
  • Everywhere else
First, the "everywhere else" solution...  I cut blocks of hardwood that were thick enough to hold the valances away from the blinds and 1 1/2" tall to give a good base so that things wouldn't wiggle.  These I screwed to the cabin sides between the blinds to form a mounting point:

Next, I epoxied blocks to the backs of the valances.  Then I drilled pilot holes up thru the blocks and into the mount points.  Screws hold the valances in place - accessible but not visible.  (Note:  when gluing teak, always wipe it down carefully ahead of time with acetone to remove the waxy teak oils from the surface.)

Invisible mounting #1

Next, at the nav station wire chase.  The wire chase was (amazingly) exactly the right height for the valences, so I just overlapped them with it.  The valence is held in place with a pair of L-shaped brass corner reinforcements, one each at the top and bottom, screwed into the side of the wire chase and the back of the valence:

Invisible mounting #2

Just barely visible in the photo is the saw cut I made in the wire chase cover panel - this was necessary to allow the cover panel to be removed without having to remove the valances.  With the cut 1/2" up behind the valances, it is invisible but allows the cover to be slid down and then removed.  (The wire chase was the very first carpentry project I did on Eolian, way back in 1998.)

At the over-sink cabinet I was less fortunate - I was not able to find flat corner reinforcements in brass, so I had to settle for stainless, which is much harder to work with.  By cutting and bending, I laboriously fabricated these little brackets with the tools I had onboard:

They work like this to support the valances with screws driven up into the bottom of the cabinet:

(Almost) invisible mounting #3

So here's what it looks like with everything up:

I still need to take the valances down and route the edges, sand, and varnish them. And while they are down, they'll get a 2" wide strip of 1/2" white MDF attached to the back for stiffening.  And then the pièce de résistance:  warm white LED strip lites will go on top of the MDF to create some indirect mood lighting:

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