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View Full Version : Designing modular wall system--opinions, suggestions?



fearfeasog
07-07-2016, 05:38 AM
Hi all, Mark, preparator at The Carle Museum here.

I have been asked to design a low budget modular wall system for our galleries to replace/supplement our existing walls, which are not super functional anymore. I was hoping a few of you might look at these screen shots of the design and give me any opinions or suggestions you might have.

dims of each section are 4' x 8' x 12" deep, bases are 6" high. The main panel core is 3/4 standard ply. faces are 1/2" MDO. Bases are 3/4 melamine in a finish that looks like maple, with 3/4" ply core supports. All will be nailed and glued. I'll butt them together and attach using (for now) metal hardware in the offset channel at the bottom and at the top, tape the joints and paint. May have to attach to the ceiling for longer straight runs.

Thanks all, I appreciate it! Mark

http://www.paccin.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1832&stc=1http://www.paccin.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1833&stc=1http://www.paccin.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1834&stc=1http://www.paccin.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1835&stc=1

T. Ashley McGrew
07-07-2016, 10:20 PM
Hi Mark,
What a great post! Thanks for sharing your work. What I see has some real merit on several levels. I work in a seismic zone and the separate base in our situation at the museum where I work would provide a great option for loading lead counterweight.
I will pass this on to the PACCIN list (see a description and how to join at the top of the front page) to request their input (they represent a high percentage of the most hardcore professionals in the community). Thanks a bunch for your post. I will revisit later with my own questions and comments.
Ashley McGrew - Chair of Publications

fearfeasog
07-08-2016, 05:27 AM
Thanks! I'll see if I can figure out the list thing, I appreciate that.

M

jwilliams
07-08-2016, 05:56 AM
Thanks for sending to the listserv. A couple observations/questions, having done some of these. Do the base units have levelers? I used heavy duty levelers with Delrin feet so that I can slide units on our carpeted (ugh) floors, and can compensate for the unevenness of a 1929 building. Rather than tape, I chamfer the edges of each box, then caulk and paint, considering the seam a design element rather than a flaw. This reduces repair time at the next use, and is not objectionable visually. Do you have a connection system? I looked into the rotating cam locks that are available, but opted for simple bed rail hardware. It's a bit of a pain to line up (my walls are only 4" thick) but once locked is quite secure.

In any case, nice design! I really like the base platform - would be much easier to level that out prior and set the panels, rather than tweaking each section as I do. Much like a kitchen cabinet installation. Very elegant.

fearfeasog
07-08-2016, 07:53 AM
Thanks for sending to the listserv. A couple observations/questions, having done some of these. Do the base units have levelers? I used heavy duty levelers with Delrin feet so that I can slide units on our carpeted (ugh) floors, and can compensate for the unevenness of a 1929 building. Rather than tape, I chamfer the edges of each box, then caulk and paint, considering the seam a design element rather than a flaw. This reduces repair time at the next use, and is not objectionable visually. Do you have a connection system? I looked into the rotating cam locks that are available, but opted for simple bed rail hardware. It's a bit of a pain to line up (my walls are only 4" thick) but once locked is quite secure.

In any case, nice design! I really like the base platform - would be much easier to level that out prior and set the panels, rather than tweaking each section as I do. Much like a kitchen cabinet installation. Very elegant.

I will install heavy duty inside corner mounted cabinet levelers. Our building is circa 2002, nevertheless there has been some settling of the slab under the gallery floors.

Not sure what bed rail hardware is, but I'll google it! Thanks!

Now I'm working on cutting the weight, given that a 3/4 " 4 x 8' sheet of standard ply = 60 pounds! I'll do one less rib in the panels. Do you all think I could get away with 1/2" ply for the interior 2 ribs, and 3/4 for the outer part of the "core box?" I'm thinking no, but would love opinions!

Thanks a mil, ff

Mark Wamaling
07-08-2016, 09:27 AM
Mark,

Thank you for posting and including these drawings! This is a perfect example of how the forum can provide input on technical details and/or issues.

In regards to your question about cutting down the weight. I would keep the two 3/4" interior ribs. Better to work with 3/4" than 1/2" in this type of construction. You may want to consider another type of 3/4" plywood for the ribs. You mentioned your standard plywood weighs 60 lbs per sheet, but it can vary from 45 lbs to 75 lbs. Most of the weight difference is the amount of glue and resin used in the plywood.

Good luck and give us an update down the road.

Mark Wamaling
PACCIN Chair

fearfeasog
07-11-2016, 06:21 AM
Mark,

Thank you for posting and including these drawings! This is a perfect example of how the forum can provide input on technical details and/or issues.

In regards to your question about cutting down the weight. I would keep the two 3/4" interior ribs. Better to work with 3/4" than 1/2" in this type of construction. You may want to consider another type of 3/4" plywood for the ribs. You mentioned your standard plywood weighs 60 lbs per sheet, but it can vary from 45 lbs to 75 lbs. Most of the weight difference is the amount of glue and resin used in the plywood.

Good luck and give us an update down the road.

Mark Wamaling
PACCIN Chair

Thanks, Mark. Maybe I can choose the lighter sheets at the Home Depot! (the standard will come from HD, the MDO and melamine will come from a specialty supplier that doesn't carry standard stuff!)

I'll post progress photos etc. check back here! I'll be making a prototype this week, if the panel saw comes in and I can get it installed.

ff

Sheri
07-12-2016, 09:58 AM
Hi Mark,
I ran across your design and wondered how the walls are working out for you? I'm predicting I will be fabricating some in the near future, and was curious as to your experience.
Thanks so much,
Sheri

jwilliams
07-12-2016, 01:06 PM
New info! Do NOT caulk the seams! I just had to remove these as a last-minute change, and the caulk made it extra tough. If I do that again I'll embed a string or wire in the caulk to easily part that bead. Ugh! Always learning the hard way!

Bed rail hardware is a set of interlocking plates, one with hooks, one with slots, that slip together and lock with gravity. That part of the design works pretty well. Also, I skinned my walls with 3/8" "Superply" which gave a pretty good painting surface and is very lightweight. Holds a nail well enough for light stuff, but I'd use screws for heavier stuff. In my world the walls are mostly backdrop, I don't hang a lot of work.

I'm attaching a photo of bed rail hardware. As I add sections I lift up the new piece, slip it into place and lower it, then drop the leveling feet. A tricky maneuver, but it works. Cam locks may be more elegant, but are pricey.

Cheers!

Jimhttp://www.paccin.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1843&stc=1

fearfeasog
07-13-2016, 06:30 AM
Hi Mark,
I ran across your design and wondered how the walls are working out for you? I'm predicting I will be fabricating some in the near future, and was curious as to your experience.
Thanks so much,
Sheri

Hi Sheri. Still waiting for the panel saw so I can get to work on the prototype! Which is fine because I keep getting great feedback here everyday, so it can wait another day or two. I'll keep you all posted!


New info! Do NOT caulk the seams! I just had to remove these as a last-minute change, and the caulk made it extra tough. If I do that again I'll embed a string or wire in the caulk to easily part that bead. Ugh! Always learning the hard way!

Bed rail hardware is a set of interlocking plates, one with hooks, one with slots, that slip together and lock with gravity. That part of the design works pretty well. Also, I skinned my walls with 3/8" "Superply" which gave a pretty good painting surface and is very lightweight. Holds a nail well enough for light stuff, but I'd use screws for heavier stuff. In my world the walls are mostly backdrop, I don't hang a lot of work.

Cheers!

Jim

Jim, I looked bed rail hardware up and it looks like something I might do. I suppose some kind of jig for drilling the screw holes to attach them in order to make the placement very precise would be the way to go there. Is that what you did?

I have my doubts about using caulk anyway. I have seen the tape & paint method (tape as in masking or self adhesive something-or-other tape) work very well.

"Superply?" Sounds...super! I'll see if my supplier has that. If it's something that cabinet makers might use then they probably do.

Thanks all!

ff

fearfeasog
07-13-2016, 07:58 AM
Can't wait--today I'm not only picking up the panel saw at the Home Despot, but I'll be going down to the plywood supplier to get a look at the materials, and get some ideas for other projects. I'll be checking out the melamine in a hard rock maple finish for the bases, MDO, and superply if they have it. I'm also interested in bendable sheet materials--MDF and veneer core are available, according to their website. Anyone who's in my area might check out this place:

http://www.primeply.com/index.htm

More later.

ff

Steve Briscoe
07-13-2016, 01:30 PM
Hi all,

We have a temp wall system that we designed using CNC cut ribs of 3/4" ply and 3/8" MDO as the skin. Total thickness is only 6" or so. Not sure of exact weight but are liftable by two people. They bolt together top and bottom with Unistrut L's and have a male and female edge that slot into each other. We do fill and paint for each show so that is some extra labor on both ends to make them look clean. Each wall has large leveling feet sticking out and compression hardware at the top to fit most of our gallery ceilings (9'3"), though they can free stand in T and L formations. After leveling and attaching together, we cut base trim to fit the floor which varies a lot. A reveal between the base trim and the wall matches the perimeter walls and makes it look intentional. End caps are made as needed.
Getting back to the CNC ribs: This is where you can reduce the weight by having a lot of the meat cut out of the interior. Ours have a series of ovals cut out. One could do this by hand, but it would be tedious. We had extra ribs cut and have made custom pieces as needed. They store on rolling carts that fit on the truck and are removed offsite in between use. They are not perfect and because of the leveling, can take some time to get right. But they work and are cheaper than a sheetrocker. I have no pictures handy because I am on vacation but I can get someone to snap a pic or two if that helps.

In your design, I think if you want it freestanding at 8' high, your depth would want to be more like 16" for stability unless you are attaching to the floor. Definitely remove some material from the ribs. It is still strong but much lighter.

Cheers,
Steve

theRustyNail
07-14-2016, 07:10 AM
This is a great thread and love seeing everyone's vision for modular walls. I made 10, 10'x10'x3' movable walls for our two exhibition spaces. I fabricated frames using 2"x2" steel tubing, and rolling them around on 5" casters followed by traditional framing using 2x4's skinned with 3/8 ply then drywall. The gap at the bottom is filled with bamboo flooring that matches the floor and base board so it looks pretty seamless. Here's a quick link that our Media Relations person put together.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3SrGzAsRBE

fearfeasog
07-14-2016, 08:02 AM
Hi all,

We have a temp wall system that we designed using CNC cut ribs of 3/4" ply and 3/8" MDO as the skin. Total thickness is only 6" or so. Not sure of exact weight but are liftable by two people. They bolt together top and bottom with Unistrut L's and have a male and female edge that slot into each other. We do fill and paint for each show so that is some extra labor on both ends to make them look clean. Each wall has large leveling feet sticking out and compression hardware at the top to fit most of our gallery ceilings (9'3"), though they can free stand in T and L formations. After leveling and attaching together, we cut base trim to fit the floor which varies a lot. A reveal between the base trim and the wall matches the perimeter walls and makes it look intentional. End caps are made as needed.
Getting back to the CNC ribs: This is where you can reduce the weight by having a lot of the meat cut out of the interior. Ours have a series of ovals cut out. One could do this by hand, but it would be tedious. We had extra ribs cut and have made custom pieces as needed. They store on rolling carts that fit on the truck and are removed offsite in between use. They are not perfect and because of the leveling, can take some time to get right. But they work and are cheaper than a sheetrocker. I have no pictures handy because I am on vacation but I can get someone to snap a pic or two if that helps.

In your design, I think if you want it freestanding at 8' high, your depth would want to be more like 16" for stability unless you are attaching to the floor. Definitely remove some material from the ribs. It is still strong but much lighter.

Cheers,
Steve

I absolutely thought of cutting some material out as you did with the CNC deal. I'd have to research where to have that done. Not an impossible feat though. Timing is the thing--I need to get these done quickly.

3/8" MDO. I have to call and see if they have that. Didn't occur to me that existed! Modular wall noob here...

Pictures would be most appreciated. Take your time!

No idea what I'm going to do for storage. They will have to stay in the galleries full-time. :)

ff

fearfeasog
07-14-2016, 08:11 AM
This is a great thread and love seeing everyone's vision for modular walls. I made 10, 10'x10'x3' movable walls for our two exhibition spaces. I fabricated frames using 2"x2" steel tubing, and rolling them around on 5" casters followed by traditional framing using 2x4's skinned with 3/8 ply then drywall. The gap at the bottom is filled with bamboo flooring that matches the floor and base board so it looks pretty seamless. Here's a quick link that our Media Relations person put together.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3SrGzAsRBE

That's awesome. I love videos like that. And obviously the walls look great. How did you keep them from rolling around after they were in place? Locking casters, probably?


Also, all preparators must dress the same. I have that exact uniform on today--camo shorts and t-shirt. No tats, though. :)

theRustyNail
07-14-2016, 09:37 AM
I have two static casters and two casters that swivel with locking swivel and brakes. Honestly these things are beasts and they can take a pretty hard hit and they wont move. However, once you start moving them you they are easily manipulated into place. Good luck on your project, I look forward to seeing the finished product. P.S. Camo and t-shirts; nothing else when fabricating.

Paul Brewin
07-14-2016, 09:29 PM
Here's a link (http://www.paccin.org/showthread.php?144-Temporary-gallery-walls-(from-ListServe)&highlight=modular)to a post on modular wall building that was cut/pasted from our listserve with a few more variations on this theme. In the archive thread I explain the system I came up with that we use and can supply some drawings or pictures when I'm back at work tomorrow if you want.

A lot of good ideas in these posts, it's great to read! I've also used MDO for its light weight and paintability for previous wall builds, and have used a variety of cam locks and just plain ol' brackets to join walls together. It's all interesting because everyone develops something unique given what they can with what they can manage within budget, time to build and/or change between exhibitions, gallery space limitations, ability or inability to move and/or store walls, floor conditions, skill levels, modular needs, etc. You have plenty of enthusiasm which goes a long way for a daunting project like new walls. These probably won't be your first set of walls, there isn't a wall system that can't be improved somehow. Good luck!

fearfeasog
07-15-2016, 06:23 AM
Here's a link (http://www.paccin.org/showthread.php?144-Temporary-gallery-walls-(from-ListServe)&highlight=modular)to a post on modular wall building that was cut/pasted from our listserve with a few more variations on this theme. In the archive thread I explain the system I came up with that we use and can supply some drawings or pictures when I'm back at work tomorrow if you want.

A lot of good ideas in these posts, it's great to read! I've also used MDO for its light weight and paintability for previous wall builds, and have used a variety of cam locks and just plain ol' brackets to join walls together. It's all interesting because everyone develops something unique given what they can with what they can manage within budget, time to build and/or change between exhibitions, gallery space limitations, ability or inability to move and/or store walls, floor conditions, skill levels, modular needs, etc. You have plenty of enthusiasm which goes a long way for a daunting project like new walls. These probably won't be your first set of walls, there isn't a wall system that can't be improved somehow. Good luck!

Thanks for the link, Paul. More great ideas there. I would love drawings of your design if it's not alot of trouble!

This is going to be alot of work....

jwilliams
07-15-2016, 06:30 AM
Yes, the tolerance is pretty tight for it to work well, but a quick router jig will get it done. You may want to insert them prior to skinning so that you can use machine screws and bolts to hold them in place, rather than wood screws, as I've had a couple catch as they were separating and stripped out a couple screws. With your system I'd think a pair at the top would pull things together, since your base will do the job at the bottom.

fearfeasog
07-19-2016, 05:41 AM
Thought I'd start sharing a few quick process photos. I'm in the learning curve stage of the game--these images are of a mock-up I'm constructing. As you can see I used crap marterials, but they are the correct dimensions--3/8" ply faces, 3/4" ply guts, with about 50% of the guts cut out by hand. I tried one of those zip tools at first, finally opted for the circ saw/hand saw combo. not super neat, but neat enough once you get the hang of it.

Our new panel saw.

http://www.paccin.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1846&stc=1

pieces parts.
http://www.paccin.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1847&stc=1http://www.paccin.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1848&stc=1

a panel!
http://www.paccin.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1851&stc=1

fearfeasog
07-19-2016, 05:45 AM
Thought I'd start sharing a few quick process photos. I'm in the learning curve stage of the game--these images are of a mock-up I'm constructing. As you can see I used crap marterials, but they are the correct dimensions--3/8" ply faces, 3/4" ply guts, with about 50% of the guts cut out by hand. I tried one of those zip tools at first, finally opted for the circ saw/hand saw combo. not super neat, but neat enough once you get the hang of it.

Our new panel saw.
http://www.paccin.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1846&stc=1

pieces parts.

http://www.paccin.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1852&stc=1http://www.paccin.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1853&stc=1

a panel!

http://www.paccin.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1854&stc=1

fearfeasog
07-19-2016, 05:46 AM
Sorry for the rotational problems--already wasted enough time trying to fix it. :)

fearfeasog
07-21-2016, 12:19 PM
After mulling this over and talking to my co-worker (who has some woodworking experience too,)I decided to go with select pine as the guts. More expensive but alot lighter than the plywood. Even before that increase in cost, the problem has been finding the funding. My curator wants this badly, as do I, but the money wasn't set aside per se. I guess I assumed it was, but now the curator has to figure out where it's coming from. Another key piece of the plan that needs to be considered beforehand!

Wish us luck.

ff

fearfeasog
07-28-2016, 10:57 AM
Hey all, I want to thank you for all your input, but as of now this project is officially on hold. The money just isn't there. Ah the joys of being a young not-for-profit educational organization!

ff

Paul Brewin
07-28-2016, 01:22 PM
Ah well, Rome wasn't built overnight, or something like that. Hope the money comes in!

Steve Briscoe
09-11-2016, 07:10 AM
Very late in adding pictures and bad ones at that. Rib shown with oval cut outs, huge leveler feet and Unistrut hardware to hold them together top and bottom. Last two shots show male and female sides of wall edge. We stacked these flat on a cart when not in use.
http://www.paccin.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1900&stc=1http://www.paccin.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1901&stc=1http://www.paccin.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1902&stc=1http://www.paccin.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=1903&stc=1