Colgate EALL (18)

The last phase of construction for the Colgate University East Asian Language Lab (EALL) involved a pair of sliding doors to be fitted beneath the alcove in the Japanese room.

Since I had previously fabricated the tracks for these doors, I was able to fit the individual rails to the tracks as they were completed:


These sliding doors pair avodire panels with reclaimed Hinoki frames:


In this photo, you can see one is assembled and the other is getting close to completion:


All done and clamped up:


A little cleanup with a plane followed:


Tenon ends trimmed:


The lengths were left slightly long on these doors to allow final trimming at site.

The completed doors:


I do believe the two woods combine well together, and it will be interesting to see how they look after a few years, as they may well oxidize differently.

So, even with all the principle parts completed, there was a myriad of tasks to complete on a wide variety of components to get ready to go to site. I was flat out in my shop for the 10 days preceding the loading up for the trip out to Colgate.

Matt J., who had helped me previously with the MFA gate installation, as well as a Japanese ceiling install at a residence in Natick, MA, came along to help out. It was very good he did, and not just for the company:  I would otherwise have been out at site for a week at least.

In the two and a half days we spent at site, we managed to get it all done, save for a few minor details.

The cusped window, with framed glass panel and sliding picture frame behind, was installed in the framed bump-out in the Chinese room:


I like their choice of paint color and tile for that room.

The lattice window insert was fitted to the window in that same room:


Hard to take a photo of a window with light coming in, at least with my nascent photography skills.

Completing the Chinese room had taken a little more than half a day. During that time I had set Matt to work on the wainscot for the Japanese room, and that work ended up being his focus for the entire time we were there.

We had intended to use a quick-acting construction adhesive to apply the wainscot to the walls, however the product I selected, Loctite ‘Power Grab’ Express All-Purpose adhesive with claimed ‘0 second’ bond time, proved to be completely worthless. The stuff is a cruel joke. Despite near idea conditions of a clean substrate and material which glues readily, temps in the 70s, moderate humidity, etc.,the Loctite product just wouldn’t bond anything to anything, regardless of how long the parts stayed in contact. Stuff left overnight would simply fall off once the tape was pulled. ‘Power Grab’ they call it [gag].

I like and trust Loctite’s threadlocking products, but this is the second adhesive product of theirs I have used which did not impress, so I think I’ll steer clear of their adhesive offerings from here on out.

I spent two hours today trying to obtain an alternate adhesive, which had been the preferred choice from the very beginning but seems to be unavailable generally in New England, namely Titebond’s Titegrab adhesive. today, with the help of a customer service person at Lowe’s headquarters, I managed to source some tubes of that product from all the way down in Pennsylvania, which is shipped expedited to me and I should have it in hand in a couple of days. Hopefully it will perform as advertised. I’ll let y’all know.

I spent most of my site time working on installing the alcove, or tokonoma, in the Japanese room. In the following picture, you can see that the left corner plant-on post is in place, along with the framing for the toko-waki section, or flanking alcove:


By some luck, the framing I had made in front of the existing wall had it’s studs largely on the same centers as the framing behind, which employed metal studs, making for convenient attachment. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, as they say.

A day or so later, the solid free-of-heart-center Black Cherry main post, toko-bashira, and floor panels, toko-ita, are in place, along with the chigai-dana, or staggered shelves, as well as the pair of sliding ‘window’ screens behind the circular window:


Fitting the parts was rather time consuming even though everything had been thoroughly prepared in advance at my shop. This was largely due to existing irregularities in the walls of the room which had to be compensated for and fitting therefore did not go as fast as one might have hoped.

Toward the end, we put in the transom for the Japanese room entry area:


Behind you can see the wainscot which Matt had installed. Only the portion on the right remains unfinished and over at the left you can see some baseboard is needed.

Another view, showing the wainscot and door casing installed around the department chair’s office:


The department chair, Yukari, was present for almost the entire installation, and filmed/photographed extensively. She was really excited to see the room coming together and this project being materialized at last.

Another view of the wainscot. The posts, baseboard, battens, and wainscot capping pieces are in avodire, the paneling is VG Douglas fir, and the door casing is Port Orford cedar:


I suggested to the department chair that at some point in the future, it would be good to replace the doors in the Japanese space with something more aesthetically concordant with the rest of the room. We’ll see if that eventuates at some point.

At the end of our time there, we had the alcove nearly complete:


In the above picture you can see that the lower sliding doors, the construction of which was shown at the start of this post, are in place, along with the board and interior corners for the right side of the alcove proper, an area in which a scroll will be hung. Still to be completed is a bit of sheet rock on the top sections left and right, though at least the framing is done on the left.

Also remaining to be done is to hang the two kake-shōji on the walls in the Japanese space. We ran into a slight snag in that one of the walls turns out to have CMUs (concrete masonry units) directly behind it, so the method of anchoring the frame to the wall using concealed fasteners had to be put aside. A solution has been found in that regard.

A little bit of wainscot needs to be completed as well, All in all it looks like a day’s work remains, and I will be heading back to Colgate at the end of the week to take care of that.

All for this time – hope you enjoyed your visit to the Carpentry Way. Post 19 follows in this thread.

6 Replies to “Colgate EALL (18)”

  1. Hi Chris, I understand the frustration that can be had with the large variety of adhesives on the market – not to mention the large variety of claims which appear to run in hand with them. The amount of times I have had to refit something someone else has fitted because the ‘liquid nails’ has let go I can’t count. The biggest hurdle I have found is that some of the really good adhesives which will stick almost anything and can handle movement etc are plain horrible to clean up or remove if applied in the wrong spot , not to mention the off gassing. Job is looking great!


    1. Thanks for the comment and sharing your observations Gav.

      I tend to assume that a product made and sold in most every hardware store would work as advertised, when used as directed, and when such it not the case I’m surprised. I’m not a glue connoisseur by any stretch, so there’s lots to learn in that regard.

  2. Chris,
    everything is looking great. l especially like the little post under the toko-bashira that disappears behind the ita-do. There is so much play between symmetry and asymmetry in that space.

    1. Tom,

      it is very nice for me to receive positive comments about something I designed, so I thank you very much!

  3. Just binged through this construction thread, it was really interesting to see the progress. I particularly loved the design and it’s Japanese/ East Asian inspiration. Irregularities in the walls must have been a pain! Look forward to seeing your future projects.

    1. Zac,

      glad you enjoyed the read. I learned recently that the remainder of the work in that space (plaster, paint, electrical, and some flooring work) is nearing completion so I hope to be able to share some ‘final’ pics in the near future.

      Otherwise, once I button up another minor bit of work I have ahead, I’ll be returning to the ‘Dark Chocolate and Sponge Cake’ build thread soon too. Thanks for your interest.

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