Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Building a Barbershop from Scratch


As I approach my sixth decade of life, I now realize that people who I knew as a young boy gave me a perspective on how their life was like now well over a hundred years ago. Such is the case with my old barber - Jack Merica.

He began barbering just before the turn of the 20th century, and gave me my first haircut sometime in 1949 or 50. He told me how in the early days the livery stable was across the street from his barbershop. That was a problem for the more refined ladies of Salida, Colorado, because lots of guys hung out at the barber shop AND at the livery stable.

Jack recalled with delight how the ladies couldn't split the difference by walking in the dirty street - it got their black shoes and long dresses muddy or dusty. So, they were forced to choose one side of the street or the other to walk on the wooden sidewalks. My! How they hated to walk down that block! So, they scurried by the barbershop as quickly as they could.

In those days, lots of guys shaved about once a week. They didn't do it themselves. They went to the barber and had him do it for them, and each customer had his own personal shaving mug and brush. Many of them were quite fancy.

I'm now working on building my own replica of an old fashioned barbershop that is based on a picture my barber had hanging in his shop, and I'm helping a few of my miniature club friends build similar models for themselves. (The picture above is the rough layout I put together in PowerPoint, which I often use for doing up my working sketches of projects.)

So far, we all have empty roomboxes. (We painted them both on the inside and outside last month to reduce potential warping.)

Now, we'll start on the inside.

I used my table saw to cut miniature 4 x 4's for the wall that will have the front door and windows. I prefer to build a stud wall, just like the real thing rather than to use solid plywood or fiberboard. It's lightweight, but sturdy. I also discovered in the building of a previous roombox that it's better to use 4 x 4's than to try to build with miniature 2 x 4's. The top surface of a 1/12th scale 2 x 4 is not very big - about 1/8" x 9/32". (Keep in mind that real 2 x 4's are actually 1 1/2" by 3 1/2" in dimension - not 2 x 4. Such delicate pieces aren't quite as sturdy as I like as a result. So, I have gone to miniature 4 x 4's.

I quickly discovered as I worked on cutting regular 1" pine lumber down into roughly 9/32" square pieces that I needed a couple of tools to make the work safer. (Even miniature table saws are extremely dangerous tools and can damage fingers and eyes in a heartbeat!)

I used a featherboard, which was made for miniature table saws. It holds the pieces of wood tight against the fence, and helped keep the wood from kicking back at me. I also made myself a very think pusher stick out of a paint stirring stick. The stick kept my fingers safely away from any spinning blades.

This Saturday, we'll glue up the walls for the barbershop and will cut matte board to fit the various walls. Next, we'll wallpaper each piece of matteboard allowing the paper to wrap around the edges of the matteboard. Then, we'll glue the matteboard to the framework.

As this project emerges, I'll share pictures of it on this site.

1 comment:

Jean Day said...

What a wonderful blog! Cheers, Jean

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