Finishing Kit

August 31, 2011

The Canopy Frame Brace Kit - (continued) - 4.0 hrs.

Today I went back to work on the canopy frame brace kit. First on my list was to fab these little clasps. They will rivet onto the side braces, to hold them together where they are split for ease of bending. I can't believe the time invested in little bitty parts like this, but you've gotta do it.

Next, I spent a lot of time working on a method to bend the reinforcing flanges into the lightening holes on the brace parts. It took 3 tries to get a tool made that would work without breaking under the stress and strain. I was using some scrap bamboo flooring pieces left over from a flooring project, with a notch cut into it. The first one you see below (on the left) quickly broke after I started using it. I figured it was too narrow so I made another one a little wider. It soon split, too. You can only go so wide, since the tool has to fit in the lightening hole. So I made a third one and reinforced it with aluminum plates before using it. This finally worked!

And here's the method. The tool is very easy to use. Just slip it into the hole, and slip the notch over the metal and bend a nice flange. Go a little at a time and keep going around the hole, and you end up with a nice flange. These really strengthen the whole piece. It's amazing.

Here's a closeup, showing the nice flange that's taking shape. If you work carefully and slowly, you'll avoid making too many marks and ugly kinks. If you do make some, you can slide the tool along and straighten them out and improve the appearance quite a bit.

One challenge you'll face is that the piece starts to warp. I frequently stopped and used a straightedge to make sure the piece was staying flat, and if not, to work on it to flatten it back out.

Also today, I disassembled these parts for cleaning and priming. I was working on the flanges above while the primer was drying. Here they are after they're dry , clecoed back together.

I cleaned up and primed these blocks, too.

Here's the finished center brace piece. I can't believe how much work these were, but I'm really happy how this turned out.

Here's a shot from the back side:

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