Saturday, 30 July 2016

ELF kit - the mud room (2)

Eventually all the painting is done.  There are three coats of white matt emulsion rubbed down with the finest abrasive surface you can get hold of.  Even 400 grit sandpaper is too rough for this.  Just a scrumpled brown paper bag does quite a good job but you can get pads used by painters for plaster-work and for rubbing down between coats of paint from the painters section of a decent DIY store.  They last ages and are the very best for all kinds of smoothing work at this scale.

three coats later

The following picture shows the next three steps in the make.
  • The cupboards have been assembled.  
  • They are then waxed.  I use Antiquax (on the recommendation of ELF).  As usual apply thinly and evenly and allow to dry then buff up with soft cloth, you can add more coats if you want more sheen.  I am not trying to achieve a shine just a smooth finish.
  • The handles have been added.  By sheer chance I had exactly the right size drill bit for the stems of these handles so they are a really tight fit.  In fact they needed a gentle tap with a small hammer to get them completely seated.  So no glue was needed.

Now to win the prize for the most convoluted wiring exercise ever.  This is how not to approach any wiring in your house.  I thought it was worth a share to show you what can go wrong when you are a twerp.

I wanted lights under my cupboard.  I got the perfect kit from ELF.  They are very thin sticky-backed LEDs that can be wired into my power strip just like any other light.

A normal person would stick them under the cupboard and take the wires straight through the back of the house (as recommended).  Not for me....

Firstly they were going on an added inner wall which was three plus inches away from the back of the house and now had no access to the back wall from inside the house unless you could thread your arm through a door and down a corridor and work blind.  Yes, gentle reader that's what I did.  Here's how it went.

Not content with this difficulty I had also added a trim at the front bottom edge of the cupboard to make sure you couldn't see the lights.  This would only be possible if you were at precisely the right height from the floor and standing on your head. As I am never sure when I might want to do this, a trim was vital.

That done, I decided I was taking no chances with any 'slack wire being visible - why would it be slack?  I drilled a hole in the base of the cupboard and another hole in the back of the cupboard for the wires to pass through.  Such fun threading through the first hole (not).

Even more fun passing the wire through the second hole when you can't possibly get your hand inside the box.  Yet there was even more fun to follow.

Having worked out where the wires would exit the cupboard I carefully measured and marked the positions on the inner wall.

Now I needed to work out where they would appear on the back of the house.  To save me having to accurately measure rooms and wall thicknesses and do any totting up, here's the contraption I came up with to determine that the hole would be 19.5 inches from the edge of the house and 5.75 inches up from the bottom edge.

 Now I needed a way to get the wire through the inner wall and then through the outer wall across a 'corridor'. I drilled all four holes with a drill bit a little larger than the straw/coffee stirrer I was using as a conduit.  I then threaded the stirrer through the front hole, threaded my arm at an awkward angle though a doorway and down the corridor and felt around for the exit hole and eventually guided the end of the straw through that, by touch.  I now had a 'bridge' between the walls for the wire to pass through.  I made that sound easy.  It wasn't.  I am not sure how well you can see the straw here.

There is a better picture here at the back of the house.

Was it worth it?  Well yes I think so but, as I said earlier, I am a twerp.

All the other cupboards went in place and I just needed to add the skirting board.  This is where I discovered there wasn't enough space between the machines and the walls to get in even the thinnest of thin skirting boards.  I couldn't slap it in front the the machines - it would look clunky and the machines would never come out in real life or this one.

Inspired thinking I added a quarter scale coving as the sort of trim you sometimes get with laminate flooring.  Forget mine goes in (coving) where it should come out (quarter round beading) and its a jolly good fix.

So there we go, job done, one mud room fitted.

For my last twerp confession in this post, lest you should think I am too smart to live...

I drilled a hole in the wrong place!!!!!

I have absolutely no spatial whatevers, so when I am working at the back where right becomes left etc I am scuppered.  I knew the holes should be four and something inches apart and that the second hole was to the right....  but that's to the right from the front view but now, of course, it needed to be to the left.  The Rec room now has a hole in a place I can't cover or use in any way.  I don't want to think about how to 'cure' this right now as I am too busy howling!!!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Mrs Organised

(I just found this in draft form - written back in April - so a 'bonus' post this weekend.)

I am sharing this not to impress you with how organised I am - nevertheless be impressed - but as a head's up in case you are looking for cheap, easy, instant storage.

We are in the throes of decorating the big house and 'stuff' arrived in my Hive that 'belongs to you' (husband speak as he delivers it).

The prospect of an Ikea trip (at least half a day) was not on the cards and I wanted it sorted like now.  Inspired thinking..... have a look at Argos - we have a local one... Found two bookcases exactly the right size for £16.99 each.  Ordered two and paid £3.95 delivery and two and a half hours later they were delivered - no kidding - Oh, and yes, it was a Sunday.  Stuff messing up my hive about 11 am and by 4.30 pm this is what I had..... without having left the room.

sewing stuff and cards

mini hobby things

everything labelled

Incidentally these shelves also come in a wider version and both of those come in taller versions - these are just the ones that fitted my space.


Saturday, 23 July 2016

ELF kit - the mud room

I think I shared this a while ago....

ELF kit for my mud room

Those pieces of wood, plus a washing machine and a fridge are destined to become this....

The plan
This is a piece of dark mahogany for the work surface.  The dark shiny area is just a small amount of Antiquax (solid wax polish) rubbed in for a finish.  The contrast between the 'raw' wood and the waxed wood is amazing.

magical finish with wax

The finished piece - one coat of wax applied with a cloth or a brush (I prefer cloth), let it dry and buff with soft cloth.  Do more coats if you like.

ready and waiting

First make a box for the cupboard and then repeat ...... three times for the lower cupboards and twice for the wall cupboards

The spare pieces are 'feet' and also act as plinth supports

When you have made the boxes do a dry fit........ and discover they don't fit!!  Entirely my fault I gave Elizabeth the wrong measurements!!!  Gave her the front of the room measurements which differs by quite a lot from the back of the room.  Talk about rookie error!!

The aaaaarrrggghhh moment
The two side cupboards need a quarter of an inch shaved off them.  Not easy to disassemble glued bass wood without it snapping.

saw, knife, scissors, whatever it takes

Do a dry fit again and this time the cupboards can be glued together

....... and feet and plinth added

Ta dah - they fit

Just need their doors

The wall cupboards are made in a similar way

make the basic boxes

Add a trim to the bottom of the cupboard to conceal the lights I will be putting under them.

three pieces cut ready to glue in place

Add a trim to the cupboard top

This will have an architrave added to this support piece

All the basic cupboard pieces are assembled.  Now for the job I don't especially like.  They will all need painting before assembly.  

44 bits of wood

Here's a link to ELF if you want to take a look round - lovely stuff.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Dormer windows

The following post is how I went about making the dormer windows on this build.  It won't be the same for every kit but you can generalise from this and see what you might like to consider as you go along.

I put the first dormer together having decided to have it painted rather than bricked.

I didn't like this as it seemed to dominate the house so I rubbed down the paint and covered the surface in bricks.  I thought this had gone totally the opposite way and was now too insignificant.  I decided to add a window trim.  You'll see the final result at the end of this post.

Now I had the prototype in place I could work on the other two dormers.  Tidy up the edges of the pieces and work out how they go together to identify the walls and the roof pieces.  You'll be astounded how many ways you can fit five pieces of wood together.

Paint the walls and inside roof panels white

Using the prototype work out what edges need to be painted slate colour; paint these and the tops of the roof

Glue the dormer walls together and paint the sides and edges to match the bricks.  I actually changed this later and painted the sides and edges with mortar paint (with the sand in) and then over-painted it with the brick colour.  I paint a little around the edges where the bricks are going to hide any imperfections.

Paint the front in mucky paint for the mortar under the brickwork.

Cut and paint the window trims

Stick bricks on the front face

Add the trims and paint inside the rebate

Glue in window frames

Glue the walls on to the main roof and then add the dormer roof sections

The end result just waiting for tiles.

This is the first build where I haven't added lead flashing.  There is no particular reason other than I am trying to make my brain accept that I am making a dolls house, not a miniature.  It is a case of selecting out some steps.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Roof tiles

Like the brickwork on the house I am using the same material for the roof tiles.  These are versi roof slates from Staceys Miniature Masonry.   They are easier and quicker to do than the bricks.  A handy tip - buy a couple of packets of their one-and-a-half width slates, especially if you have dormers to go around.  If the gap you need to fill at the edge of your roof or beside a dormer is less than half the width of a slate it is better to use an over-wide slate and cut that to fit.  Little slivers of tile are visually distracting and wouldn't be at all practical to fit in real life.

tools you need, plus scissors

I start at the centre of the bottom edge of the roof and work away from there to the right and to the left until the first row is in place.  Ignore the lines you see drawn here - they are a mistake (I forgot for a moment how I go about this!)  You'll need some glue (usual tacky PVA is fine).  I put this on the tile with a toothpick or, in this case, teeny tiny brush thing.  A ruler, sharp pencil and scissors are needed now and then.

my checking tile

The tiles will overlap by half .  To keep a constant check on horizontals and verticals I cut a tile in half and draw a line down its centre.  Makes sense to do this on the side you didn't choose for your roof. (The tiles have a silvery finish one side and a black finish on the other). 

keep checking

Every now and then I check that my tiles are staying on course by putting my checking tile at the bottom of the tiles which are already glued in and with the pencil line over the gap between two tiles.  Then I set the new tile new tile exactly above it.  It is now precisely overlapping by half a tile and is centered correctly. 


When I have a couple of tiles in place - well spaced apart - I rule a line across the top of them to give me a guideline for the rest of the tiles. This makes each row accurate and very quick to do.

Any questions just ask.

I am sorry I can't show you the finished roof just yet.  I didn't follow my own advice and I forgot to order extra wide tiles so the roof tiling is on hold until I have been to Miniatura and picked some up.  

The pros amongst you will wonder what the heck I mean as Miniatura will have happened in April and you are reading this in July!!  

I am actually writing this post on the eleventh of  March and already have several posts scheduled to keep me going until July.  It seems the obvious way to go about this game. If I write in real time you will be overloaded with stuff when I have time for my hobby and things are bowling along and then you'll not have anything to read for weeks while I am doing a ton of painting or sticking on bricks.  I write something each time I do the next step and add it to the others in the queue so you get a weekly bulletin.

This is why my YouTube videos are out of sync with the blog.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Fitting cranked hinges

I did some research on the best hinges for a heavy-fronted dolls house and the usual cranked ones win.  

I ordered and messed about with bits of piano hinge (and other ideas) but it is generally agreed that piano hinges are fine for small houses and light doors but by the time you get to three feet wide project and a doors with a basement attached, the screws will want to pull out of the MDF because one of the plates is screwed into the front cut edge and not the surface of the wood.

cranked hinge

The cranked hinges that came with this kit came with steel (?) screws.  I sent for some brass screws from Dolls House Emporium.  They were actually better value and decidedly the best fit (purpose made) than all the ones we could find in B & Q.

wrong colour screws with their replacements

Start with the doors rather than the box of the house.

My house needed three hinges down the side so I started with the centre hinge.  It doesn't necessarily need to be the centre of the door.  Each of my three hinges are 'centered' on each window on each floor.  As long as they are reasonably balanced and spread out the position is pretty much up to you.  Logic dictates that each hinge should carry about the same weight, so an even spread is obviously needed.  Mark on the edge of door where you want the centre of your hinge to go.

Keep the hinge really straight and press it hard into the side, looking for the mark you made; this will be where the centre screws will go.  Keeping the pressure on, mark where the screws are going to go.

Use a very fine drill............... drill some starter holes for the screws - take care not to go too deep you just want a marker place to help you keep the screw in place when it starts being screwed into the wood.

For putting in the screws (if possible) use a good screwdriver.  I started with the little one on the right as I was only putting in tiny screws.  Unless you have muscles I suggest you 'upgrade' to a decent size one - in this case a ratchet screwdriver - it was just about ten times faster and easier.

Fix all the hinges in place on the door.  In this case there are three of them.  Now to attach the door to the box.............. 

Try to get your house in a position where you can stand the door side by side with the box.  Makes it easier than working with it at an angle.

shimmed up

The door needs raising a fraction just so that it isn't constantly dragging across the surface that you house stands on.  Anything you can find will do.  This is just a piece of trim from something or other.  Thick cardboard will do.... just something to get it off the surface.

Wrap the other half of the hinge around the box edge and repeat what you did with the doors.  Mark up where they go, drill starter holes and then fix on the hinge itself.

job done

Doors in place - looking like a house.