Saturday, February 16, 2008

Aircraft Fabric

If you have small children about the place you probably have one of these (pointing toward the first picture). A few bricks were laid down, some 2x8's were given several coats of paint then assembled into a square frame. Laid atop the bricks and filled with plaster sand, you have the Basic Sandbox.

Of course, about ten seconds after you toss-in the last shovelful of sand, your newly constructed sandbox will vanish under a layer of cats, even if you don't own one and even if the sandbox is located a long rifle-shot from the nearest neighbors who do.

Every sandbox needs a lid. The one shown here is made from 1x2" 'white-wood' furring strips bought at the local Borg for about 4x what they would have cost at a real lumberyard, all of which have now vanished. The lid was fabricated using urethane glue and pneumatically-driven 1-1/2" brads. The lower frame was made to match the sandbox and in fact, built on top of it, using the sandbox as a kind of out-sized pattern. The peaked roof is simple 90 degree angles.

The whole thing, sandbox & cover, were made in an afternoon.

To cover the lid I used a couple of yards of Dacron 'suit-lining' material - - the same stuff I've used on airplanes (and written about in other places). It cost about a dollar a yard and is 44" wide. One square yard of the stuff weighs about an ounce and a half. This resulted in a cover that weighs about twelve pounds, light enough to be tipped-up and removed by a child.

Contact cement was used to attach the Dacron to the frame. The Dacron was then shrunk with a hot iron and the whole thing given a coat of the same Rustoleum oil-based enamel used on the wood. The paint was from the 'Oops!' rack at the local Borg; $30 worth of incorrectly colored paint for $5.

The sandbox & cover is now seven years old and starting to look a bit tatty. Had I given the fabric two coats of paint instead of one it would probably look a bit better. The fabric itself is still sound, despite its seven-year exposure to the weather. Thump it, it sounds like a bass drum.

There are two lessons in this message, the most obvious of which is that there are a lot more uses for fabric than knickers & table cloths. The other message is that even inexpensive Dacron is pretty durable stuff.