Giving the Handrails a Facelift

Our second project for “Spring Cleaning” is at Forrest Park where we tackled some small repairs on the bridge. The bridge was completed in the Fall of 2020 that utilized tensegrity as an architectural form for the basis of the bridge. Using steel rods as cables, the bridge works in tension to connect the Bikeway and the park in West Ashley. Over the past week when the studio divided into teams to do Spring Cleaning, a group of 4-5 of us went over to Forrest Park to asses the repairs. Some metal work was required but the major point of repair was giving a facelift to the sapele handrails that bring color and life to the metal bridge.

Our first job on the hand rails was to seal any cracks in the wood. Sapele is a durable wood with a golden to dark reddish brown color that makes it versatile or indoor or outdoor uses. In this instance, the wood started to crack around the original glue joints and along the bend of the rails. Sapele is great and accepting glue so we epoxied all the cracks, letting the wood soak in as much as it could take. We came back over the weekend to do a second coat of epoxy to really ensure that the handrail was solid and crack free. Just last Wednesday, a group of us came back to sand down the excess epoxy and clean up the work.

We used 2 orbital sanders to clean up most of the epoxy and we hand sanded the rest, especially when the wood comes in contact with metal. This process lasted for roughly 2 hours and we made sure to keep the round surface even with each pass. Once the rail was sanded smooth, we came back with a coat of varnish that will seal the wood from the elements and maintain the sapele color. We have applied one coat of varnish and plan to return once the weather warms up (fingers crossed) and stops raining to apply the last and final coat. We hope everyone can make a visit out to Forrest Park and Medway Park to check out the repairs and let us know what you think!

– Until next time!

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