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realisticality's avatar

I am trying to construct a giant book made with plywood for the corner of a children's room. How should I go about constructing the binding/support for the book to stay standing, and also be able to open the book 90 degrees?

Asked by realisticality (45 points ) June 29th, 2012

We are using several wall panels that had children’s murals painted on them and planning on using the panels as the pages of a giant book. The panels are each about 4 feet wide x 90 inches tall. We are designating it to a corner of a children’s room, so the book can only open 90 degrees from it’s closed form. What can be done to help keep the wooden pages standing straight, and able to swing 90 degrees?

One idea was to put hinges on each page and then securing it to a wooden post that would stand at the apex of the corner of the room, but that will only about 5 inches width for the post. There are about 8–10 wall panels, each about 1/8–¼ inch thick. We were also thinking perhaps using some kind of metal hoops as one would use on a binder for the pages to rotate on, but haven’t found large enough u-loops for that. Does anyone have any ideas on how to make this kind of giant book sturdy, and be able to swing multiple wood pages as one would a door?

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17 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Maybe an internal metal frame, and the moving parts rested on wheels.

dabbler's avatar

Make sure it can’t fall over, or trap the kids in any way !

How about foamcore or gatorboard which are alot lighter ?
Could be useful for a prototype anyway.
You could make the hinges out of duct-tape if you use foamcore.
The kids could feel mighty hauling the whole thing around.
And you wouldn’t have to worry as much if it does fall over.

creative1's avatar

I would look at hinges like these that close at 180 degrees and you can adjust the placement on the wood so to include the thickness of the pages. I would then make hole in the pages and drill holes in the wood at the same placement as the pages then thread leather laces like the ones for workboots and tie them on the outside of the book (I would do at least 3 sets of holes in which a set consisting of 2 holes next to each other so to tie the laces through)

gorillapaws's avatar

What about using piano hinges?

dabbler's avatar

Ah, I see from the description that it is to be fixed to the corner, duh!

if the pages are really plywood they will be heavy and a piano hinge is not made to bear weight in that direction, they will destroy themselves. Something like a gate hinge with the skinny side on the post would do the trick.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I would use door hinges.

CWOTUS's avatar

The weight of a 4’ x 8’ sheet of 1/8” lauan plywood is going to be in the neighborhood of ~12 lbs. or so, plus the weight of whatever you use to cover that, whether paint, cloth or paper (plus the adhesive and fastener weight). That’s not even addressing the corner support and hinges themselves.

So ten such panels is going to be about 120 lbs.+. That’s a significant weight to be suspended at only one edge, and swinging, and in a child’s room. (You’ll want to consider some kind of “dampening” hinges to prevent free-swinging, so that rambunctious or angry or malicious kids won’t be able to swing those “pages” easily against a sibling or other child who happens to be in the way of them.) That is a whole lot of potential energy stored in the corner of a child’s room.

Personally, I would re-think the whole idea. Or consider it as a temporary non-structural item, such as poster board, shower curtain “pages” or something else that can fail without drastic consequences. I see all kinds of problems in the project as described. Personally, it sounds like something to impress Dad – or other dads – more than the child / children involved.

ETpro's avatar

If you decide to ignore @CWOTUS’ advice, do consider hinges that have friction or torque dampening built in. Here’s one source. I am sure there are others. You’ll either want to use a router or carefully chisel the hinge plates into the panels to minimize the separation of the “pages.” Good luck with it.

Blueroses's avatar

I’m thinking this is a really neat idea. And what I’m thinking is you need an inner, secure post with a rotating cover.

Could you put braces on the floor and ceiling, drill into those the measure of a post, slip a piece of PVC pipe over that post? You could attach the pages with box brackets and to the PVC with those drywall hanging screws that pop open on the backside. The individual pages wouldn’t turn but you could hang a few that way and they’d rotate?

realisticality's avatar

Thank you everyone for the advice. The pages are actually wood panels that were originally attached to the walls as a part of a mural, but now that we are renovating and taking out the wall panels, we didn’t want to simply throw the art away, so we wanted to preserve them as a giant book. Thank you everyone, and @CWOTUS especially, for bringing up many valid safety issues that the giant book could have. I posted on fluther asking for advice on how to make the project as sturdy as possible knowing full well that it will be going into a children’s space and because I understand that I do not know how to do it myself, so the advice provided by everyone here is much appreciated.

Because the mural panels are already existing and painted on the wood, I cannot substitute the pages with other materials such as foam core, posterboard, or shower curtains, as suggested.

I’m not sure how the project has anything to do with dads…but I guess I’m sure you have a personal opinion about it for some reason.. Anyhow, we just thought that rather than throwing away the great mural art (they feature children’s stories), we could save it by making a book out of it instead of wasting something that was a great part of our lives.

Of course, we will re-think the idea and look for other solutions, but it was still exciting to think that we could make a giant book out of it that kids can safely play with and interact with the art. It’s also not a project we’re rushing to finish, because there are no children in the picture yet, not for at least another few years, so there’s plenty of time to research and come up with new ideas, although so far, we really like the idea with using wheels on the bottom and having a metal frame to hold up the pages, as well as including some kind of torque dampening.

Again, thanks everyone for the feedback, and if there are any other ideas regarding how to make the project work sturdily and safely, do let me know!

LuckyGuy's avatar

That is a neat idea.
I was thinking door hinges until I realized how many pages there were and their thickness. The pages are going to be heavy so I’d go with a metal pipe or steel rod as the main spine. Anchor it to the ceiling and floor well. Put a steel or Nylon spacer at the bottom to raise the book off the floor. and support the pages. Rather than going for hinges I’d try large carabiners to attach the pages to the pipe. A big one would give you play between the pages but would be strong enough to support the weight. You’d also be able to change the order relatively easily.
Good luck.

dabbler's avatar

I think that movement of ‘pages’ that big will be dampened by displaced air. They’ll be like giant fan leaves and encounter plenty of resistance.

Nimis's avatar

Sorry to be such a parade-rainer, but I’d have to agree with CWOTUS on this one. This project sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

I think there are a million other less dangerous!! ways to reuse these panels.

- room divider
– benches with storage
– planters
– bookcase
– etc.

ETpro's avatar

@Nimis & @CWOTUS While the concerns listed are valid, they are imminently solvable. The idea seems to me worth the effort required to do it right.

Nimis's avatar

@ETpro
What I learned from studying architecture: Ideas are not precious. You need to know when to let go and move on. That doesn’t mean junk the whole thing. Keep it in your pocket and revisit it another time.

Also, a design could be great in one location. And a failure in another. This idea could be great. But in a children’s space, it makes me wary.

What I learned from working in wood shop and building things in general: For every problem that you foresee, there’s going to be a half dozen that you don’t.

The materials you use should inform your design. Ten 4“x7“x1/4” boards of free-swinging plywood do not scream child-safe to me.

What I learned from working with kids: They don’t always use things the way they’re intended to be used. The world is their jungle gym.

PS This is all coming from someone who is notorious for entertaining impossible ideas. If this were a college art project, I’d sit here and brain-storm with you all day long. But when it comes to kids, I’d err on the side of caution.

lots_of_ducktape's avatar

I had the same idea – I have a (very) active 3yo boy and a 1yo girl in my home and their bedroom needs to be redecorated. I love and collect children’s literature so I was thinking a giant book that would allow me to easily change the room theme… I want to be able to “lock onto a page (not let the kids turn them) but think it would be great to have 2–3 scenes to choose from. I’m not locked into wood panels but the material needs to be sturdy and stiff (so I can paint on it). If you do think of a solution I would love to see pictures!

Blueroses's avatar

@lots_of_ducktape The OP has a specific mural he wants to preserve, and it is heavy.

You could do your book scenes on foamboard; either paint or blow up images from a favorite book, and it would be easy to think of creative ways to make a giant book part of the playroom decor.

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