Saturday, May 12, 2012

Another Scratch Build - Day 3

Well an update to my Georgian townhouse project.  I sat down with it today for the first time in what seems like months, but I'm fairly certain is only weeks - if not just one week... regardless, far too long.  We've had a lot of rain the last two weeks, and that humidity has taken its toll on my plywood.  All the walls, including the front opening facade, have warped.  It made it quite a challenge to build up the box structure for this house, and I'm not entirely sure what to do with the front halves of the house.  There must be a way to flatten them back out, and I will find it.

This afternoon I dremeled out the channels for my wiring and, as previously mentioned, assembled the box structure.  I'm torn on how to tackle the entry way, I would like paneling but I don't think it would look right with the crisp white interior doors.  I also haven't decided on how to paper the interior, and until I decide that I can't build the frame that the hinges will attach to.  So many directions to go when you don't have an instruction sheet guiding your every step!

I did however decide on a colour for the front door, it will be quite red with brass fittings.  I even have a mail slot here somewhere in this crap-room to put on the front of it.  I also started working on the staircase but then ran out of the triangle wood I'm using for the steps, so tomorrow I guess I will have to go to the hobby shop along with the gym.  Luckily they are right beside each other.

I'm still not 100% sure how to attach the hinges to the front panels yet, I may have to thicken up / reinforce / flatten the front panels with columns of some sort so the screws have something to bite into, and that may be enough to take the warp out of the panels so they fit together again.  There is also the front garden to assemble, that may just do the trick too.

Every door should be red in my opinion
I'm finding the directions in this book don't make sense until you just sit down and do it, then looking back after several choice utterances, it makes perfect sense and you don't really realize where the last four hours of your life went.  I suppose it's just the way the English phrase their sentences - helps I've been Americanized!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Another Scratch Build

After some soul searching, and finally admitting I'm in a touch over my head with my first scratch-build, I decided that perhaps it would be prudent to start with something a touch more ... basic until my long unused carpentry skills are sharpened.

I had ordered a few books off weeks back, and they're filled with projects that are primarily done in the European style (front opening) rather than the North American open backed style.  I've never really been fond of these, they tend to look like boxes with windows, and I'm still wrestling with that - unaided by the fact that I do literally have a 24 x 17 box that I'm currently cutting window holes into.

The project I chose as a learning exercise is the second project in the book, a seven room Georgian townhouse with faux basement.  Although seven sounds mighty large, three of the rooms are located in the attic and at best guess will be too small to function as much other than a bathroom.  I didn't realize the depth of the house until I was dry fitting the panels together, this thing is ridiculously deep and seems to not be making efficient use of space.

The author's goal with this project was to build a "home of a well-to-do family and that the rooms should be large enough to fit quite a few impressive pieces of furniture...".  Fair enough I say, but when you have a 17 x 10 dining room and not a thing to put into it, plus you have to walk upstairs to find a sofa to plunk your tiny butt on after eating, that just seems ridiculous (I currently live in a townhouse - not georgian - and it's nothing but stairs, this is a serious consideration in my mind).

Now that I have the panels cut, I don't want to go putting access doors everywhere on my very sturdy box, so I am tossing around ideas for a visual division of the ground floor room so it can be both salon and dining room.  My first attempt is pictured, the second option will be pillars .  I like that the division travels across the ceiling but I don't think I'm entirely sold on this idea yet either.

Yesterday I started with the base.  The one thing I do like about the front-opening style is that the structure is incredibly sound.  This is the first house that hasn't creaked when I pick it up - in fact there's no give to this thing at all.  Constructed out of 1/4" pine plywood it should stay relatively stable through the years.  The base tucks in between the exterior walls, and has a 1.5" recess at the front where I plan on putting my electrical panel for ease of access.

If anyone has built anything out of this book I'd love to hear your thoughts on the process.  I find I'm having difficulty following the instructions and images provided, they seem out of order somehow, and the author comes across as smug somehow (this is the only true way to do something or other...), but his designs are quite sharp.  The book is "Making Georgian Dolls' Houses" by Derek Rowbottom.  If you see a copy around definitely thumb through it!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Day 2 - Beacon HIll

After a week of procrastination I decided it was high time to tackle the 2nd floor staircase, which of course meant tackling the wallpapering as well.

The second floor is a much plainer room, less room for furnishings and only one light, it couldn't handle the floral wallpaper of the ground floor.  I opted for a stylized yet relatively simple fabric which was again mod-podge'd onto the walls.  I will be able to carry the single square around to the front wall, which means I only have to match one seam on this wall (score!)

Before the front wall goes on I also decided it would be a good idea to get the flooring started as my head doesn't fit in this house what-so-ever.  I'm going with coffee stirrers again, I liked the grain that comes out when you stain them, they are fairly cheap, and you can say it's real hardwood that's been installed!

The flooring is possibly my favourite tedious part of a house, it's just mindless enough that you can watch TV or listen to the radio while doing it, but not so tedious that your hands cramp and eyes cross after the first ten minutes. I may find it so easy solely because of my easy-cutter, I really can't imagine doing it without.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Beacon Hill - The beginning

I finally have a measurable amount of work done on the Beacon hill kit that arrived a few weeks back.  I can tell already this is a very persnickity build.  The two sub-assemblies went together rather easily, the stairs are complicated but all in all I can't say they were terribly difficult.  However getting the stairs into the sub-assemblies.. well that's a different story!

As I'm not one to build and then decorate, most of the work has been determining where lighting will go, how I will conceal it, and then figuring out the priority in which to get the paper on the wall and the paint on the ceiling!

I went with a floral fabric for the hall/dining room paper.  It's bold, but I am still reasonably convinced I can pull this off.  It lends an over the top victorian aspect to the staircase, and I'm sure that once the room is filled with dark furnishings it will be toned down considerably.

For some reason the photos always make the paper more yellow than it actually is, the background on this fabric is cream, not yellow - but you get the idea :)

As far as the exterior goes, I've been waffling between two styles of masonry, but I think I have finally decided to go with the red brick.  Every BH I've seen (with the exception of one) has had siding, so I want to avoid that at all costs.  So here is my inspiration photo, lol and I'm about to learn a lot about bricking in minature!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A General Update

I've been working non-stop on a few different projects, but no photo-worthy progress to report on yet!

In somewhat exciting news, I was given the perfect excuse to justify starting a Beacon Hill.  A friend of mine is getting married, it seems as grand an occasion as any to build a massive house, plus I have until July 2013 to get it done so it won't be a rush like the last minute christmas fiasco.

I also had a chance to sit down and sort through the last lot of miniature supplies I picked up on a trip for balsa wood.  It's been both a boon and a source of frustration that every hobby shop in this city is going out of the minatures.  I am getting a lot of supplies for next to nothing, but I am going broke buying these amazingly cheap supplies - and places to keep them.

The boxes contained numerous houseworks windows, hundreds of light fixtures, miles of wiring, several bulb extractors and wire strippers, furniture kits, glassware, furniture components, ceiling tiles, wooden shingles, siding panels, stripwood, landscaping materials - and there are still three boxes to go through.  Thankfully, Walmart just "rolled back" their rubber storage bins.  I picked up some lovely red ones for a rather reasonable sum.  I have just enough room for another stack of two, hopefully I will be able to store everything else in 6 drawers worth of space.

Also, I found some amazing dollhouse books from the UK on, 2 of which arrived this week.  I now have several more projects to attempt.  My scratch build is on hiatus, I lost my drive on that particular project - I'm not sure if it just wasn't speaking to me, or if I was in over my head making something so very complicated as my first real woodworking project in almost 12 years.  Either way I'm going to scale it back a bit, the house has moved in to the furnace room so I'm not confronted with it every time I come to my work space.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Glencroft - Day 27

I'm on to the landscaping portion of my build, this is where I'm finding it difficult to keep the pace up, There is just so much to do and I don't know what to tackle first!  The last couple of days I have been working on the fence and yard on the house.  I'm fairly certain the light on the front of the house has been thoroughly destroyed by the cat so I have to figure out how to replace that fixture with the least amount of damage.

 The paperclay shrunk an incredible amount on the paving stones, I'm not sure why but I"m fixing the issue with moss and grassmat.   The shrub is actually supposed to be an orange tree.  the raised bed will be filled in, some gravel/soil and tiny plants made for a kitchen garden.
 Overall, i just need to find the window frames for the upstairs west window, I still haven't had any luck tracking them down.  I may have to raid the second kit in the garage - but then what would I do with that one!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Scratch build - day 6

I finally got my newel posts up.  I had bought some a while ago but they got lost in my craft mess, decided after three days of searching for them it actually would make more sense to just go buy new ones!

Tomorrow, with any luck, I will be able to install the railing and balusters.  some trim work on the side of the staircase (I haven't decided how to treat the sides yet) and I will start staining these bad boys.  It's such a relief to feel like I'm doing something on this house again.