Monday, February 19, 2007

The Making of Miss Marble Vanity

Just like with Miss America, a lot goes in to making Miss Marble Vanity. I mean, with Miss America, sure they start with a reasonably attractive woman, but that’s only the beginning. There is the tweezing, blow drying, shaving, collagen injections, gallons of makeup, hair die, colored contacts, binging and purging, and the liberal use of masking tape and Vaseline. And then there’s the talent portion of the event. Let’s not forget about that! No, the making of Miss America doesn’t happen all by itself, and it was no different with the bathroom vanity.

When I ordered the pieces of marble for the apron I wasn’t exactly sure how this thing was going to go together so I ordered them a little long. As it turned out I did need to cut about and inch off each piece and I had to miter the corners. I also had to drill several holes for fasteners and notch two of the ends so they would fit in to the brackets. It was a lot more drilling and grinding than I thought I was going to have to do.

Here’s a shot of it again {siiiigh}

Because of the way it’s put together there are no visible fasteners. It’s actually quite clever and it sort of reminded me of the way the big 1890s cast iron stove in the kitchen went together. With that thing there was only two screws for the whole stove. All of the other dozen or so parts use gravity to be kept in place. Most of the parts just sort of hang off the main body of the stove. With the vanity, it is the weight of the top that does a lot of the work of keeping it together.

The first pieces of the puzzle are the two wall brackets. These get mounted to the wall with two screws. There is a half inch high, 3/8ths inch diameter post on the top. The side piece of the marble apron was notched to fit in to the bracket. Nothing secures the marble in the bracket.

Next there are the front legs. As you can see in that first shot the legs have a double off-set. I’m sure there is some formula by which I could get the angle of the leg and measure the distance between the angles and figure out what the off-set is. I just took a few guesses and figured out it was a 3-inch off-set towards the inside, and a 3-inch off-set towards the back. There is a post at the foot of the leg that fits in to a hole on the floor.

The post is hollow and threaded and will receive a ¼-inch bolt from underneath. This keeps the seemingly delicate and graceful leg from being pulled or accidentally kicked out from under the vanity. The legs themselves are cast brass and weigh about 5 pounds each.

At the top of the leg, the 5-inch high right-angle pieces that receives the marble apron has another threaded post to receive a screw. You can see how a mitered the marble. I did this with an angle grinder fitted with a diamond blade. That worked very well for shaping the marble. The perforated piece of angled steel I bought at the hardware store. It is secured with a bolt to the back of the leg. I then drilled some holes in to the marble that correspond to holes in the angle steel. The holes only go in to the marble about 3/8ths of an inch. Right now there are wooden dowels in there but I will eventually secure bolts in to the marble with epoxy. They probably originally used lead. The bolt will have a nut and washer threaded on from the front to secure the apron to the legs.

You can see how the angled steel sits a little proud of the marble apron. This serves the same purpose as the posts that stick out on the top of the wall brackets. This angled steel piece, of course, is just something I made up. I would imagine that originally, back in the 1890s, the legs came with factory made brackets that had posts on them. Who knows where they are now. Regardless, it servers the same purpose. Both the posts on the wall brackets and the angled steel that sits a little high will fit in to grooves and holes on the under side of the vanity, as you can see in the pictures below.

Grooves for the front

Holes for the back

The top weighs well over 50 pounds even without the sink and faucets. Once that is placed on to the legs with the apron, and all of the peices are fit together the vanity becomes very rigid. Even without the top the legs and apron are reasonably firm, with the exception of where the apron meets the wall brackets. I’m considering drilling another hole on the inside of the wall bracket, and a corresponding hole on the apron and adding a dowel there. There is no way to do a bolt there. I’m not sure it’s necessary though, because the final piece will be a marble backsplash that will keep the back part of the top firmly on the wall brackets. The only way to get it off the wall would be to break the stone.

After I was satisfied with everything I took it all apart. The wall brackets need to get plated and I needed to clean the top. That came out well. I also tinted the apron pieces a little so the color more closely matches the top. That came out pretty good too. The plywood frame that you see in the first picture will act as a template for when I do the final installation. Who knows when that will be. This bathroom is really dragging on.

Next up: The bead board ceiling.


mindy said...

She is very, very elegant. Your endless search is over - you must celebrate!

erinn said...

In all your cutting and drilling, did you use a water swivel or some type of coolant attachment on your tools to cool the bits or blades? We need to drill a small hole in the top of our marble vanity for the drain plug rod and I am wondering if I need to add the expense of that. The carbide and diamond tipped bits are expensive enough. Glad I found your blog.

Greg said...

For drilling holes there is no need for anything besides a carbide or good masonry bit. Even using a carbide bit on a router works well on edges, but the stone will need to be polished afterwards. The only time I had problems with over-heating was when I cut a sink hole with a router bit. Other than that, no problems drilling holes. Just go slow and start from the finish side because there might be a little blow-out as the bit exits the marble.