The Door

Main Entry: door

Pronunciation: ˈdȯr
Function: noun
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: Middle English dure, dor, from Old English duru door & dor gate; akin to Old High German turi door, Latin fores, Greek thyra
Date: before 12th century

1: a usually swinging or sliding barrier by which an entry is closed and opened;
also: a similar part of a piece of furniture
3: a means of access or participation : OPPORTUNITY [opens new doors] [door to success]
— door·less -ləs adjective
— at one’s door : as a charge against one as being responsible [laid the blame at our door]

Ironically when I looked up “door” in the Webster Dictionary one of the definitions was an opportunity. Which is a good way to look at our most recent custom office furniture project, an opportunity to create something new. A client came to us with the typical request for an 8′ x 8′ workstation. The usual challenges were inherent in the request: two monitors, shelf, cockpit surface, 60″ high panels. Then came a request for a door. Sure it seems easy enough. Think of how many successful doors we pass through every day, the doors to our homes, office, the coffee shop, the restaurant, every time we use the bathroom there are multiple doors. Armed with the confidence from the door we had create for SCAN Health Plan we said, “Yes! We can create a door.”

So we researched every sliding door in Southern California and Northern Maine (Jeremy’s domain). The mountain to climb got a lot steeper when our client asked for no upper track, or lower track on the ground to guide the door, and it had to be smooth and refined feeling. How do we create a door in four weeks with off the shelf parts without a track system that is smooth and refined. We surmised that the success would all be in the tolerances and the wheels or bearings used in the doors.

Roller Blade WheelsWe set out on an exhaustive search for wheels/bearings. Jeremy and Brad concocted a detailed set of Z brackets and U channels to allow the door to slide and have the structure & rigidity required so that the door wouldn’t roll off into the aisle way. Again back to the wheels or bearings. Jeremy found a pair of his wife’s roller blades in the garage and took them apart to see if the wheels would work. Low and behold the wheels were smooth and perfect with and amazing bearing. Where do we find 300 roller blade wheels? On his way back from lunch one day Brad stopped in Wal-Mart to looks for roller blades wheels for our mock up – $2.25 later he was on his way with two new beautiful wheels with that perfect bearing. These became the bottom off the door. In the end we sourced the wheels from an inline skate shop just north of the San Fernando Valley; we cleaned out their stock.

The last item to complete were the vertical interior wheels. They couldn’t exceed .875″ in diameter or .25″ in height to work with the clearance required. Back to the internet. Brad came across a shower door replacement company. Shower doors roll on very small nylon wheels with a metal hub – perfect!

With wheels in hand, completed engineering drawings, all tolerance and brackets worked out to within 1/16″ and our vendor fabricated the prototype. Reckoning day came…the door was to be assembled and tested. Will it work? Did we consider all the tolerances? Will it be strong? Will it stay in line? Will it be smooth? Heck will it even go together? Low and behold it went together and worked! The door slid beautifully, the tolerance were spot on, the unit could self level. We had done it! Except for the horrible clicking/clanking sound of the wheels!!! Ahh the agony!!! Where was the noise coming from? The wheels rubbing? Were the Z brackets acting as a reverberation chamber? How do we solve it? We narrowed it down to the nylon shower wheels. After days of searching for new wheels, sound dampening/absorbing materials we settled on a possible combination of felt, and Velcro to smooth the roll of the wheel and deaden the sounds.  Back to the metal fabricators to re-set up the door. After hours of rolling, listening, removing the door and installing additional sound dampening solutions without success, Marko who works in the shop at our local metal vendor (we always try to create locally manufactured office furniture) came in with an O ring for faucets. We installed these under our shower wheels. It was blissful silence…the door rolled smooth and quiet.

We created a door – an opportunity – fabricated with sport equipment, bathroom hardware, a few O rings and sheet metal.

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