Old house, third floor renovation home theater with obstacles - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 21 Old 06-18-2018, 06:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Old house, third floor renovation home theater with obstacles

I have been a lurker in this forum for a number of years and when I moved to an older home several years back, I had two important criteria for the purchase-1) a basement where I could install a woodworking shop and 2) a room somewhere that could become a home theater/listening room.

I am an amateur woodworker although I am not a carpenter--and believe me--there’s a difference! I am also a bit of an audiophile, so great sound is also important for both movies and listening to music. Oh, and I also have a full-time job.

I have now been underway on this project for coming up on four years. I am nearing the end and have finally decided to post about it in this forum. I would have done it sooner but progress was so slow that I thought folks would lose interest. By doing it this way, I know that I am giving up the chance to incorporate a lot of great advice from members of the forum. You can’t have everything,

I think this will interest many readers because the project has had to deal with a number of important constraints and likely some that may have scared off others from attempting their project. Perhaps this will help. I am a stubborn DIYer (just ask my wife!) but tackled this project without experience in virtually any part of what would need to be done. YIKES!

The house was built in 1928 by a gentleman in the marble business. He knew he would load the house with marble (i.e., the kitchen walls are marble), and so it is extremely solid to handle the additional weight. The third floor was already finished, has a full bathroom (complete with cast iron tub) and a furnace for the second and third floors. There is also a separate air conditioning unit for the second and third floors so temperature comfort shouldn't be an issue.

I think this was originally a maid’s quarters way back when. When you get to the third floor, there was a small hallway for no apparent reason, a bedroom that was about 12 ½ x 13 feet with relatively low ceilings at about 7 ½ feet (not a very promising start I know), an alcove on the front at about 6x10 ft and two long walk-in closets. However, the entire footprint of the room/closets is about 19 feet square (also not great for acoustics but more promising for a footprint for the theater). In the attached PowerPoint, the dotted lines show walls that were removed. Because it is on the third floor, three of the walls also slant at a 45 degree angle starting about 5 feet up (which I tried to show in the attached pdf drawings). The walls were also plaster and lath (it just keeps getting better!) And the main wall separating the bedroom from one closet is a load-bearing wall and the house has a heavy slate roof. Now those are constraints!

I consulted a very well-respected residential engineer who indicated that we could remove the walls but would need to but add support beams front to back and side to side. I even considered trying to raise the ceiling, since one side appeared to have about 18 inches of space above it but the roof is actually flat and sloping to drain rain over much of the space and it sloped down to only about 6 inches at the other side. Just as well…. it would have been a nightmare to tackle that. We don’t have floor plans for the house and the joists also run in different directions under parts of the roof.

I used construction professionals to remove the walls and install the support beams and to do some drywall work, and had an electrician add a sub-panel in the room with a lot of dedicated outlets because I have quite a few heavy-duty mono amplifiers. I will have professionals install the carpet.

Aside from that, it’s been all yours truly. I have developed the design but am so grateful to the many dedicated supporters of the forum from whom I have learned so much and who gave me the courage to tackle this project.

Just in case anyone is still reading, I am posting some pdf files that approximate what the finished product will be like. I did a lot of work with SketchUp to develop the design—big learning curve there! SketchUp is great for working in three dimensions and checking the lines for how the projector might work. Since it creates files in a proprietary format, I will use PDF to show my plans.

My idea is to take readers through many of the issues that I have encountered and how I have dealt with them. I welcome questions about the many constraints I faced and will try and post pictures that show the progress that I have made. I have also added some interesting ideas including doors and light fixtures that I have built, some pretty cool amplifier stands and an audio rack that I will start on soon. I have made many adjustments to the plans throughout the project.

The basic theater plan includes two rows, eight total seats, a rear 4K projector, seven speakers and two subwoofers in a high-end audio system (Wilson Audio speakers, etc) and partial-masking theater screen. I have made many accommodations to try and deal with the acoustics, but frankly I cannot know if they will work until it is complete and I can test it out. I have probably overdone some aspects of sound-absorbing materials but can remove some if necessary after further testing.

I hope many of you will find this interesting and ask questions and provide comments. And I apologize in advance if I swear at anyone because they have a great idea that I wish I had thought of!!
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Home theater line drawing pdf.pdf (93.0 KB, 37 views)
File Type: pdf Home theater 1.pdf (185.2 KB, 32 views)
File Type: pdf Home theater 2.pdf (175.6 KB, 18 views)
File Type: pdf Home theater 3.pdf (132.8 KB, 18 views)
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post #2 of 21 Old 06-18-2018, 08:23 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm going to add a few photos of the early work in removing walls so you can see what we were dealing with. You can see that we left the studs in place on a couple of the walls because they would be used to install the support beams later on.
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post #3 of 21 Old 06-18-2018, 08:52 AM - Thread Starter
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In the last photo of my prior post, you can see beams that were installed. The beams are LVL beams which are made of many pieces of woods laminated together. The will flex side to side (which was important here) but are very strong with no flex up and down. We had two 6" beams up inside the ceiling running front to back and then three 16 foot long, 10" beams replacing the load bearing wall. We simply left the wall studs in place and bolted the beams to double 2x4's which served as posts. This meant we didn't have to construct temporary support walls while the beams were going into place. After the beams were up, we just cut down the studs so there are triple LVLs separated by the width of the original studs.

It makes the total beam about 10" x 10" x 16'. These later get wrapped in cherry wood so they look like solid wood beams across the room. The projector will hang just low enough to see underneath the beam to the screen and high enough so it won't look like Mystery Science Theater 3000 with shadows of heads on the screen.

You can imagine the challenge of maneuvering 16 foot beams inside a house and we couldn't bring them in the third floor window because of the slate roofs outside. I have shown a picture of the small second floor window on a landing and then the stairs leading up. The beams had to turn a corner to go into the theater which is where the flex was essential. If they had been an inch longer, they would not have made it!
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post #4 of 21 Old 06-18-2018, 10:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Any comments?

I see that I am getting quite a few views, but haven't had any comments yet. I don't know if that means folks make one click on a very long first post and conclude "I'm outta here" or what.

If you'd like for me to keep going, let me know and I'm happy to oblige.

The next photos show the room taking shape a bit. You can see the side to side LVL as it is positioned and then as my friend Dom is cutting down the old studs. There is also a view from the rear and you can see a front support post too. An oddity of the room is that it juts out a bit but we put a 4x4 post to support the smaller LVLs inside the ceiling.

I have also posted some shots of the ceiling which will become repairs. We used the open ceiling to run quite a few cables--two high speed HDMI cables and a coax to the projector, speaker wires to the side speakers, and very long high quality patch cables (with XLR connectors which reduce noise on long runs) which will go to amplifiers which will be mounted in the walls for the rear speakers. We also ran coax from the basement and up through the ceiling and will go to a modem which will provide very fast internet service (> 500 mips).

You can see a small door which gets me under the eaves and allows some power cords to be hidden behind the walls and you can also the sub-panel which is installed for the dedicated power runs in the room.

At the back of the room, the engineer gave us the go-ahead to angle the support posts so that they would not take us much space from back row seating.
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post #5 of 21 Old 06-19-2018, 06:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Three purpose closet

The next step was working on the alcove area which will serve three purposes. Like most old houses, this house lacks closet space relative to contemporary designs. I also own more suits than any human being requires, so I decided to adapt most of the space with built-ins that would create a large walk-in closet.

This will also get a cabinet that I built to house over 1200 CDs and about 200 DVDs which I am transferring from the jewel cases and boxes into sleeves and using plastic racks to provide support. I also will build a rack to hold most of the audio/video equipment for the system. Much more on that plan later.

The pictures show an empty alcove and then with the cherry hardwood floor installed. You'll note that the hardwood extends beyond the alcove and wraps around into the room. This is where the screen will go and I add a false wall and stage which will house subwoofers, center channel speaker and several large mono amplifiers on stands.

I had never laid down a hardwood floor or created built-ins before. The floor wasn't too hard although in a home built in 1928, it is hard to find floors or walls that are still level or square. The built-ins were much more of a challenge. They are primarily made from furniture-grade ¾" cherry plywood. High quality plywood is great for furniture because some of the best veneers are saved for high end plywood and it is also dimensionally stable so it won't change shape with the weather like solid wood does. All of the trim is made from solid cherry and it is all finished with about five coats of an oil finish.

I built the parts in my basement shop and then assembled upstairs. Getting the base supports perfectly level in all directions was a challenge, but they went together pretty easily afterward. They are obviously not complete in these photos, but get the idea.
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post #6 of 21 Old 06-19-2018, 07:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Hiding that ugly beam

I've included a few more pictures of the LVL beam that replaced the load bearing wall. You can see where the bolts attach it to the support posts at each end and also hold together the three LVL beams on either side of the original wall studs.

I added the wooden rectangles to act as spacers so the wrap would fit nicely over the bolt heads and nuts on the other side. The beam gets ½" plywood on each side which is nailed on with a nail gun. I will add trim later to cover the nail holes.

On the bottom, there is a one foot wide and one inch thick board(s) that make the beam look more like a solid wood beam. I experimented with a nail gun here but I realized that it a kid would reach up and hang on that board, it would fall on his head. You can see that I drilled holes and used long screws instead. Very solid and once again will be covered with trim pieces to hide the screw holes. When it all comes together with the wood covering and trim pieces, it looks like it might belong in this room.

Every piece of wood that you see starts in my downstairs shop where I dimension on the table saw, joint and plane (except for the plywood), cut to length on miter saw and then sand through at least five grits of sandpaper--120 / 150 / 180 / 220 / 320 and sometimes 400. They then get about five coats of oil finish which must wait at least a day between coats. The oil provides a really nice luster although it wouldn't stand up to a lot of abuse. But I don't see any reason why the wood trim in this room would receive abuse either.

You can see why the project takes to long. And when you forget a small piece, you can't just cut a new one and pop it in because it also has to go through the same process.

This is where a carpenter would buy finished moulding and so on and nail it up and be done with it. It is where my hobby as a woodworker comes in handy but really makes the time and labor so much more intensive.
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post #7 of 21 Old 06-19-2018, 09:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Acoustics issues-- a shot in the dark

Hello? Anyone still out there? Since I am not getting any comments, I can't tell if anyone is still following the entire thread.

You may recall that the basic room is about 19 feet roughly square with 7 ½ foot ceilings. Square rooms tend to create a lot of standing wave problems which would be exacerbated with large subwoofers. The low ceiling is likely to make the issues even worse.

I think the angled side walls and other irregularities due to the room design or addition of posts and beams may actually help there. They ought to break up some of the sound waves and may reduce the standing waves that would emerge naturally from a square room.

Two subwoofers (JL Audio F130) and the center channel (Wilson Audio WATCH series 2) will be hidden behind acoustically transparent fabric beneath the screen. The front speakers (Wilson Audio Watt Puppy 8's) are free-standing in the room. They were crazy expensive when new, but fortunately I bought all of these used. Wilson changes models so often that the used models trade at a pretty substantial discount from new. They are fabulous speakers and must be freestanding. I also listen to a lot of two-channel, so they are really important to the overall system. I also have Wilson Audio WATCH side speakers and then speakers in the rear that use reflections rather than direct sound.

In order to deal, in particular, with first reflections of the front speakers, I am employing a lot of sound absorptive materials on the walls--probably too much but I can't tell until I set everything up and test. I figure it is easier to remove later than add.

The walls receive 2" thick Owens Corning 703 FRK. I have the reflective side facing out which many people believe makes the room sound too bright. Since my high frequency hearing kinda sucks these days, I am not so worried about it sounding too bright.

You can see in some of the photos that I attached two by fours to the walls as sleepers which gives me 1.5 inches of depth. The white tracks that show up on the photo are Fab-Trax track which adds another ½ inch to cover the OC703. They come in a variety of profiles and I have chosen a beveled profile which makes for nice seams where large sections come together.

Fab-Trax are kind of pricey, but they are pretty easy to install. You screw the base piece to wood and then the upper piece snaps over it. You add a thin strip of adhesive which allows you to place the fabric in place and keep it there. You simply wrap the fabric over the Fab-Trax top track and snap it into place. Actually, you may need a dead blow hammer to whack it into place but it is still fairly easy. What I really like is that the track does not show at all after installed because fabric is wrapped completely around it. I'll add some close-ups later to show how it works.

I used Guilford's of Maine fabric which looks great, is about as acoustically transparent as anything (nothing is completely acoustically transparent) and they have a huge selection of colors. As you can see, most the room will be a medium to dark red and the front will have black Guilford's of Maine to create a mostly black wall to surround the screen.

Why red? I like the way it looks, but it is also practical. Why are the drapes in movie theaters almost always dark red? Because they disappear when the lights are down. This will work great to control light and the fabric is also non-reflective, of course.

I have added cherry baseboards and trim all around. Each piece has a solid wood top and bottom and uses ½" plywood. They will get additional trim to cover nail holes and places where the pieces have seams.

One space has the electrical sub-panel and a rectangular hole below it. Obviously I have to be able to easily access the sub-panel so I added a hinged door over it and then placed Bryston PowerPac 120 amplifiers in the wall where I have run long XLR-equipped Kimber Kable patch cords. The power cords travel in the crawlspace behind and come out next to a Richard Gray Power Company power conditioner which is located behind the riser. The projector will also plug in here.

Bryston is a Canadian high-end audio manufacturer and these small amplifiers are ideal for this application. Most Bryston amplifiers come with a 20 year transferable warranty so they are obviously confident abut the ruggedness of the products. They are built to last on the moon. Each is a monaural amplifier that provides 120 watts of power into 8 ohms and much more into a 4 ohm load. Since they are basically all heat-sink, they can live inside the door. There is another one in a similar location on the other side of the room. They will have a small shelf on top of the door which will accommodate the rear channel speakers.
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post #8 of 21 Old 06-19-2018, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
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building the second row riser

Here you can see the basic structure for the second row riser. It is about 13' wide by about 6' deep and 8 or 9" high. Just used two x and plywood. One thing I did was place sorbothane pads underneath the structure to isolate it some from vibration. Also added pads between the frame and top.

It is structurally very solid and has a ¾" plywood top. I added insulation to also act as a sort of bass trap. That is why I have Fab-trax frames across the front of it because it has a Guildford of Maine fabric front to allow in the sound. Think of it as a Bass Motel--the sound gets in but it doesn't get out.

I also show the bottom side of the riser top and you can see where I have added aluminum track that will accommodate low voltage lighting. The riser has some sharp corners and the room will be mostly dark, so I don't want people falling off of it or stumbling into it. I think the lighting also creates a cool effect. There is an accessible transformer and a slide dimmer on the front of it. It should be accessible from the front row seating. The lighting only shows up on one side but it will lit on both sides naturally.

The riser will accommodate two loveseats which will give us our four back row seats and not place anyone under the projector. You can also see where the vent is for heat and air conditioning so I just extended it up a bit. The riser will be carpeted, of course, and I will probably add some sort of solid wood trim rather than just wrapping carpet around the edge. It will also act as a stop for the back row seating.

It was a no brainer to add a riser for back row seating. The rear speakers will be a bit close, but the room dimensions are what they are so we do the best we can with them.

The addition of the riser created one more conundrum. There is a full bathroom to the side and the door naturally opens to the outside. With the riser in place, there is not room for the door to swing open very much. Instead, I'm going with some beads hanging across the doorway. Just kidding! I will show later the door that I built and installed with barn door hardware so it slides to the side and clears the riser.
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post #9 of 21 Old 06-19-2018, 12:05 PM
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What resources have you used for the acoustic aspect of the design?
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post #10 of 21 Old 06-19-2018, 12:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by impreza276 View Post
What resources have you used for the acoustic aspect of the design?
Like most things, you surf around on the internet and then forget. One source that I think is particularly useful is acousticfields.com.

Naturally, they would like for you to buy some of their products, but they also offer plans and kits for those with a DIY compulsion. Once you get on their list, Dennis Foley also sends emails of interest regarding various topics on acoustics. There is a lot of hocus pocus when it comes to acoustics, but Dennis seems to be a very knowledgeable guy who wants to share his experience.

If I find some additional bookmarks on my other computer, I'll pass them along.
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post #11 of 21 Old 06-19-2018, 12:24 PM
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You are working with some constraints but it would be useful to get some professional design help. I would if I was spending Wilson Audio money. My biggest handicaps in all my Hi-fi adventures have been with room acoustics.
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post #12 of 21 Old 06-19-2018, 12:55 PM - Thread Starter
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You are working with some constraints but it would be useful to get some professional design help. I would if I was spending Wilson Audio money. My biggest handicaps in all my Hi-fi adventures have been with room acoustics.
That is good advice. I have consulted with some professionals and anticipate that I may need to add (or take away) some things. I suspect some quadratic sound diffusers and bass traps may still be in my future. It is tough to know until I can hear and measure what's going on and I just cannot install anything until the construction is done. Even then, I don't expect to be done with acoustic treatment.
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post #13 of 21 Old 06-19-2018, 01:09 PM
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I normally don't post unless you ask specific questions that I feel that I have a reasonable answer for, or something stands out that I believe needs to be addressed. I suspect that others share the same thoughts. It looks like you know what you are doing and you have a plan, which you are following.

Since you have asked for comments I will post these...

It may be too late, but have you considered trim screws? They have a small head and can be patched easily with wood putty rather than plugs.


Are the ends of the beams supported well enough? Normally a load bearing beam like that will sit directly on top of a 4x4 or similar post to transfer the weight straight down. I see that you have bolts to secure them to the doubled up 2x4s. My concern would be that drilling the holes for the bolts (or screwing in the bolts without holes) could weaken the 2x4 enough that the weight could cause it to split down the middle (possibly over time), or split out to the side (again, possibly over time). What is under the bottom of the doubled up 2x4s that each carry half the load? They need to transfer down to some other part of the structure to carry the load all of the way to the foundation.


The LVL beams certainly appear to be used. What's the story there? I assume that it came from a building that was deconstructed. I've seen plenty of reclaimed beams, but not much of it is engineered lumber.

It is important to be able to remove the metal cover from your corcuit breaker box. It looks like you may be covering it up to the point of making it inaccessable. You say the circuit breakers and amplifiers will be behind hinged door. I would be concerned about putting the amplifiers where they don't get a steady airflow. The heat from those heatsinks needs to be able to have airflow to be effective. Power cords are not supposed to go through holes in walls like that. I understand why you did it, but to meet code you would need to install an electrical box with an outlet, rather than feeding a non-rated utility power cord through the wall.
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post #14 of 21 Old 06-19-2018, 02:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Dave,
Thank you for your thoughtful comments and suggestions. Actually, I have used trim screws extensively throughout the project. I have a strong predisposition for screws and I use that particular brand that you pictured. They are easy to drive and are strong.

I'm not a big fan of using wood putty because I don't use paint or stain and the putty never seems to match my wood as well as I'd like. I am using a fair amount of trim to cover seams and holes, but also because I am trying to create a sort of Arts & Crafts aesthetic. That is not apparent yet in any of the pictures I have posted.

So far as the beams go, this is where I relied completely on the pros. My builder specializes in old buildings and the engineer has over 30 years of experience and is recognized as one of the top residential engineers in the state. The builder came over four or five times before starting to examine everything and meet with the engineer. The post is not exactly at the end in that picture because there wasn't sufficient support below. We needed to hit a floor joist to feel confident there. Those are 2 x 12 beams there (I mean actually 2 x 12 using a real live ruler). interestingly, the house was not built on 16" centers. Because the owner knew he was going to have a lot of marble in the house, most to the structure (that I've seen at least) is built on 12" centers to accommodate the additional mass.

The builder was great because he was really careful. His portion was only at the front end of the project so it wasn't going to be a lot of money for him, but had the potential to be a disaster. His crew also worked around larger projects (where was actually making money) and he made sure that only his best guys worked on this (one of whom, Dom pictured previously, happened to be a friend of mine.) I was really surprised when he showed up with Greg the builder. I am going to use Greg to re-do our kitchen later this year (and--aside to my wife, No, darling, I am not building the cabinets myself!)

As for the bolts in the posts, you may be correct there but I relied on the professionals. I don't think my engineer would have signed off on it if he wasn't confident.

I had never seen LVL beams before this project so I don't know what the history is. It hadn't occurred to me that they might be reclaimed. I guessed they had been stored outdoors but really have no idea. They are heavy as all-get-out.

The subpanel only has five outlets in it which are for the five dedicated circuits used in the theater. Since this room was already a finished room, the basic ac circuits and lighting run from the main panel in the basement. All of the circuit breakers here are easily accessible.

Since that is an open crawl space behind that wall, the small amplifier has good ventilation there and I also have holes in the shelf above it to let heat exit well. Since they are only for rear channel speakers (which are pretty small and efficient), they are unlikely to ever be driven very hard.

You are probably right about the power cords but that is really just a little sleight of hand. The power cord feeds into the crawl space and then exits though another opening into its plug (which you see in some of the photos in the center of the wall). It was just a way to keep the cords invisible rather than have them laying on the floor.

I doubt that the inspector would like it, but I've already had my final electrical inspection so I think I'm good to go there (even if it's not quite kosher.)

Thanks again for your thoughtful observations.
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post #15 of 21 Old 06-20-2018, 05:27 AM
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That is good advice. I have consulted with some professionals and anticipate that I may need to add (or take away) some things. I suspect some quadratic sound diffusers and bass traps may still be in my future. It is tough to know until I can hear and measure what's going on and I just cannot install anything until the construction is done. Even then, I don't expect to be done with acoustic treatment.
I guess since you are already in the construction phase it is a bit too late to make changes to room layout. Once I buy my forever home the first thing I'd do is invest in a professional design service to get the layout right. I tried to for my current project but it was out of budget. You are probably more confident about your design skills than I am.
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post #16 of 21 Old 06-20-2018, 07:10 AM
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It sounds like you have involved the necessary experts, thought things through, and are happy with your decisions. I am also a big fan of screws. The pre-existing outer framing was built conventionally with nails when the rest of the house when it was built. Everything else inside my room-within-a-room structure is built exclusively with screws. There was not a single nail used. This should keep it plenty strong and minimize the chance for any squeaks.

Just a clarification on the circuit breakers. In addition to being able to access the circuit breakers to reset them in case they trip, it is also necessary to be able to remove the front cover in case you need to replace them or access the wiring inside for any reason. My concern was that the wood trim seems to be blocking access to the cover.
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post #17 of 21 Old 06-20-2018, 09:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Smile I got 99 problems, but WAF ain't one of 'em

Color me lucky. When I read comments in the Forum about the WAF issue, I am always grateful for my good fortune!

With nearly 500 views on the build thread now, I feel compelled to offer some kudos to my lovely wife. As you might guess from my nickname, she is a few years younger than me and we are blessed to have two great kids, 10 and 6….and this after I had basically given up on my dream of ever having a family… until I met my wife.

She not only signed off on a woodshop that fully occupies the basement, but has been fully supportive of the theater despite some chronic annoyances. Not only has this project dragged on for years, but I have now commandeered our spare bedroom and most of the garage as staging areas for stuff. It makes her crazy (she’s a neatnik, I am not), so she just never ventures into either. She is actually more excited about getting the rooms cleaned up than she is about the theater.

She also rarely ventures upstairs until I coax her up to see a bit of progress. She has generally left the whole design and execution up to me, although she has made occasional suggestions (even about stuff I spent a lot of time on) and she has always been spot on. I (sometimes) grudgingly, sometimes enthusiastically accept the suggestions…not just because she made them, but because they have always been right.

When boxes show up in the mail (a frequent occurrence for quite a while), she inquires about what they are, but when I say that they are for the project, she usually just responds with an “Oh. Can we afford this?” “Yes, dear.”

It turns out projects seem more affordable when you spread them out over several years. https://www.avsforum.com/forum/image...face_smile.png
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post #18 of 21 Old 06-24-2018, 11:04 AM - Thread Starter
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The Bathroom Door Conundrum

The title here sounds like it might be an episode of Big Bang Theory. If only I had Sheldon to solve my physics problems, most of which arise from space limitations. You may recall that the size and position of the second row riser prevents the original bathroom door from having room to swing open.

Thanks again to those that have provided comments. That folks so willingly share their expertise is what makes this forum so great. I continually learn from reading posts here.

I apologize for some of the photos that show up sideways. They are actually taken in portrait mode and display that way on my computer. Not sure why they get turned 90 degrees during the upload. I hope that's not too much of an inconvenience.

Now, on to our show...

I first removed the old door and door frame. I am building all the doors which will eventually total to three. The others go in places that had no previous door and will require me to create a new frame as well as the doors.

I am a big fan of Frank Lloyd Wright and have made a couple of furniture pieces in a style reminiscent of Wright's furniture designs. I spotted a single photo of a door that Wright designed as part of the Fontana Boathouse in Buffalo, NY. I don't know where it is in the boathouse, what it leads from or to, or whether it is a one-off design or whether there are multiple doors with the same design. Based on the picture, I could determine rough dimensions, and so I was off to the races.

I would need to use barn door hardware to slide the door rather than swing it, but I was also constrained (again?!!) by the sloping ceiling at the rear of the room which would also not allow the door to fully slide open across the entire door opening.

In the first photos below, I show the door in its component pieces before assembly. It is made from sold cherry rails and stiles and furniture grade ¾" plywood for the center panel. Plywood is great for this as it is less costly than making the panel out of solid wood and it is dimensionally stable so you don't have to worry about expansion during the year. Because of the stability, you can glue it in place in the routed slots in the rails and stiles rather than having to "float" it to account for expansion. You can see in the photo of the center panel where I tried to avoid using the oil finish because trim pieces will go there and they will glue better without finish. In other photos, I show the trim pieces before assembly.

I assembled the door with loose tenons using the remarkable Festool Domino. I have a lot of Festool products and they are well-made and very creative in their designs. The Domino cuts mating holes in each piece that accept their proprietary dominoes (you can see some of them placed in the stiles prior to assembly). They provide the strength of mortise and tenon without having to account for making the pieces larger to accommodate the tenons. It uses a drill bit that moves side to side as it spins (also pictured) and makes perfect oval holes to accept the dominoes which are glued in place. The dominoes come in various sizes with different bits to drill the holes perfectly.

The first photo of the completed door also shows the solid cherry header that I added to support the barn door hardware. The hardware has a stop so you can't whack the door into the sloping wall and also has a soft close feature to slow it down. I had to narrow the doorway opening which allowed me to also narrow the door. That was necessary for it to have enough room to slide to create the opening to the doorway but still maintain a good-sized door and opening.

The tile that you see mounted in the door is not in Wright's original design. It is a tile made by the wonderful folks at Motawi Tileworks in Ann Arbor who make a lot nice arts and crafts designs. They have done several under license from Wright's estate and this one is a design that Wright originated for the Dana House. In the entry door, I will use this wood-motif design on both sides and use two additional FLW tiles from Motawi. I hope Mr. Wright would approve of my adaptation of his design with an homage to his other talents as a designer.

I also included some detail photos of the door handles and some of the trim I added inside the bathroom which covers which I ripped out the previous door trim.

Originally I had only planned for the little alcove behind the door, the area around the door and the support column for the overhead beam to be painted drywall. Later I decided to add the cherry panels, additional fabric with Feb-trax and the cherry trim. It just made it a more cohesive and complete design overall and continues the idea that the theater is made out of big wood beams even though they are only covered in cherry. The panels, as usual, are ½: furniture-grade plywood and all the trim is solid cherry. The pieces on the corners cover the seams. You also see speaker wires protruding and that is where the Wilson Audio Watch side speakers will hang. They are pretty large for side speakers and quite heavy so you see the serious lag blots that will hold the mounting plate that Wilson provides.
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post #19 of 21 Old 06-25-2018, 02:32 PM
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Beautiful door design and construction! It definitely shows off the what I now understand will be the style of the room.
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post #20 of 21 Old 06-25-2018, 03:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Beautiful door design and construction! It definitely shows off the what I now understand will be the style of the room.
Thanks much, Dave. My posthumous thanks go to Frank Lloyd Wright for the original design.

BTW, the panel looks clear in case access is needed and the side panels are also easily removable. When I show more of the trim, the aesthetic will become even more apparent.
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post #21 of 21 Old 06-26-2018, 12:06 PM
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Great project. I love old houses. The LVL might have been drug around a lumber yard or on a site, moved around and then not used. If it was pulled from a site and you aren't using the old connection points, it's probably fine. Sometimes you got the beat the sh*t out of them to get them into place, which will bang them up.

I am sure your contractors are good, but I would encourage you to post any questions about insulating (and avoiding any problems) on greenbuildingadvisor.com or check out Building Science articles about low slope roofs.

love the door, that looks great.
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