17 Jun 2017

Laser Cut Sofa & Chairs

After all these structure posts I'm thrilled to have something more interior focused to share!  This week I brought three projects to life using my local library's laser cutter.  I now have a living room set for the build and an extra roombox to play with.

*Before I get into things, I just want to remind those interested in trying laser cutting that Ponoko is an online shop that can cut your designs and ship them to you.  Before I used the laser cutter at my city library I had great success with their online shop.  A lot of what I know about designing for a laser cutter was from reading their tutorials (you can use Inkscape (free), Illustrator, etc).  So don't let access to one of these machines hold you back!*

I tried a new approach this time around.  After creating my designs in Adobe Illustrator (which I succumbed to purchasing the CC version for a month) I uploaded them into the Silhouette design software and cut them out in cardstock first.  
This was the perfect way to catch design flaws!  Usually I'd waste a lot of expensive hobby wood and time at the laser cutter before getting the design just right, but the cardstock made it simple and quick to visualize and fix issues.

Below is a progression of my side chair frame design.  You can see how small and out of scale the math was on my first version and how each one changed.  The final piece is cut with the laser.
Cutting 1/8 basswood:
Now I just need to add stain and make cushions.
Cushion idea using foam board for now:

Next project was making a sofa.  This one was a bit more difficult to plan out because it's hard to know exactly how much room I will need for fabric and foam on the cushions.  Again I first cut it out of cardstock to check my math and then revised.  

At the laser cutter I cut 1/4 MDF.  It was very difficult and did not want to cut all the way through, especially the curved lines. I had to do multiple passes and it made the edges burn.
I decided to make the cushion corners rounded.  I'll add padding next. The entire sofa is 11 pieces without legs.
Below was how I tried to figure out how large to make my cushions.

And finally I took the roombox from the right side of the build and added in some windows.  This roombox is actually 2" too short for the build so I plan on just using it for quick display and scenes.  (My boyfriend just shakes his head because we've already recut this twice now. But I'm excited to have an extra display!)
I painted and added some (temporary) floor boards.  I have laser cut windows in my stash somewhere to add in.

It was so motivational to see everything come together and have a bit more of a design/decor element.  I now have the next four days to complete my kitchen design in time for my next laser cutter booking, so it's going to be busy!  Hope you are all having a great mini making weekend!

10 Jun 2017

June This and That

An unexpected blip in my blogging as I jumped into helping my sister move the last couple of weeks.  I think we all underestimated the amount of things she had gathered and time it would take.  After all the packing/unpacking and crafting, what was supposed to be one week turned into three!

Here are a couple things that have been going on during my absence:

I finally learned how to use my sewing machine!  I made these 1:1 cushions for my sister's new place and have lots of material left to make 1:12 projects.  If you didn't know this already, Ikea sells great fabric for very good prices.  Especially solids like white, cream, navy, and black.  Perfect for miniature sofas! (I also made the gold frames shown)
I couldn't help but sneak out during the week and walk over to the Little Dollhouse Company while  I was in Toronto.  The store always has a glorious collection of tiny things and I had to keep reminding myself to only buy for the current build!  My favourites were the displays by the cash register that spin round and round.  So many beautiful pieces!

To be honest the majority of what I got this visit was hardware!  Too much of the build is still unfinished! The folding doors are requiring a lot of hinges so I took every last one they had in black/pewter.  Below is what I brought home, although missing the many packs of hinges I've already opened.
I've always admired the electrical components on the outside of dollhouses for their realism, so I'm super happy to have found these Handley House electrical part kits.  And I just had to get the LDC's trunk kit because I saw what Kat did with hers and it's too much fun.  (Especially for when I get stuck on a build and need a quick motivation project!)

The one thing I unexpectedly fell in love with, but saved for another visit was the collection of 1:144 kits.  I'm such a sucker for the dollhouse within a dollhouse look.  Next time!

While walking around the Leaside neighbourhood I also came across this fabulous display by the Leaside Paint Centre!  (And to top it off the Realtor across the street had a dollhouse on display in her window!)
Meanwhile my boyfriend decided to get into the minis with me away.  He surprised me with maple floorboards all cut and ready for the build!  I can't wait to get these laid down.
This week I got real glass for the folding doors cut and I have the laser cutter booked for Monday so I'm working hard to get my files ready.  I'm hoping to cut sofa and chair pieces.

Hope you're all having a great weekend!

14 May 2017

Folding Doors Part 1

This week I'm sharing a bit of the process that went into making the front framing and the beginnings the doors.   Not only is this framing acting as a supporting wall, but it also creates a track for the doors to run along.  I really had to try to make it square!

In case you missed it, the pieces I cut last week were maple strips in various lengths all 1/2" wide.
To start I made a track that the folding doors will run along. I took one of the pre-cut strips of maple from last week and centred it over the table saw blade at a low height.  I used a scrap piece of mdf as a jig to keep the piece I was cutting in place and kept my hands safely out of the way with scrap wood push sticks.
This technique resulted in a small channel the width of the blade.
I assembled the top and sides of the framing with glue and a small nail gun.  Keeping the piece with the channel in the middle.

My first attempt doors:
I started out my design in 1/4" MDF, positioning the edge over a low blade on the table saw to make a channel down the centre.
The resulting channel:
Slicing off the width:
The pieces:
Then I glued the sides and the bottom piece together, sliding in a piece of plexi.
I have yet to add the hinges and pins to follow along the track, for the pictures they are sitting in a dry fit.

Once I had built all 4 doors I experimented a bit with the colour and thickness. I felt like the ones I had just made were a little too thick.  Using my Silhouette cutting machine I cut these black frames out of card stock, just to get an idea of an overall look.  I like how the black helps makes the house look more modern.  And I decided to trim the MDF door frame width by half to match these card stock frames.

The new smaller frames:

So this week I'll be painting the frames and ordering hinges, as well as working on the smaller frames for the top above the doors.  I'm going to have to hunt down some good glass too.

The laser cutter is booked for Thursday!  So I'll hopefully have some exciting things to share!  Have a great week everyone!

7 May 2017

Resizing Wood for Miniatures

This week I've begun replacing the front framing in new lumber and started a dry fit of modern folding doors in scrap MDF.  The next couple of posts will look at both making the lumber for the build and making the folding doors.

I decided to make my own wood cuts for this project.  One to get the colour and grain I want, and two because hobby shop wood is limited near me.  I went to this hardwood supplier and found some great 'roasted' maple lengths in both medium and dark.
In order to create proper scale for miniature work I'm re-sawing my lumber with a table saw.
Here's a quick break down of my process (you can Google re-sawing with a table saw for more info! And if you try, always use safety precautions!!)

This is what I start with:
1) I use an electric jointer/planer to smooth down the edges of the 1"+ thick board
2) then raise the tablesaw blade up extra high, and cut once down the middle (shown below)
3) then I flip the board over and cut again
4) after that I use a bandsaw and slice down the middle where the two cuts didn't quite meet, giving me a sheet (my bandsaw isn't strong enough to cut through the entire board without the tablesaw cuts)
5) finally I use an electric planer to smooth everything down and continue until the boards are the right thickness (the planer is shown below)
I am then left with a sheets suitable for ripping down into smaller pieces of lumber.  The ones below were planed down to 1/4", but I've also made thinner ones. This whole process takes awhile!
The next step is ripping down the lengths.  I decided to cut 1/2" widths off to create my framing boards.  Because this isn't too narrow I was able to use the fence, but when I cut even narrower for my floor boards I will need to use a thin rip jig.
The final strips are trimmed down to the necessary lengths - and ready to go!
Next time I will post about making the folding doors. I'm trying to decide on the right colour.  My plan is to have the majority of the house in the medium maple... I've seen a lot of black contemporary folding doors, but I'm not sure if that is going to be too contrasted... we'll see!
Have a great week everyone!

28 Apr 2017

Opening Walls and Interior Accessibility

After an unexpectedly busy month with family it took much longer to progress on the build.  The walls have been modified with new openings and I have a basic layout of the window framing.   It's very exciting to see the character and style of the house coming together.

The design has under gone a couple of changes from my last post and re-introduces a (side) porch from the original kit.  The last bit left on the design to tinker with is roof at the front.

Today I want to take a look at the accessibly of my house design.  One of my biggest struggles when planning any miniature building is figuring out how to access the interior space.  Especially if you want to take pictures!

This house has 3 main points of entry; the back, a side hinged wall door, and the roombox extension when separated from the house.  (The plan is to have the front windows slide or hinge open too!)

The side hinged door:
My boyfriend (who spent years in construction) was able to cut the openings for me using a table saw. He kind of freehanded it and lifted the mdf off the saw to stop the cut.  I know this isn't the norm and a jigsaw or a router are usually the way to go about it... but I'm not complaining because it gave me lines that are perfectly straight! It did leave cutaway marks on one side of the wall but I'll cover with siding no problem.

The inner door is cut afterwards using the dimensions from the opening and fitted in.
The mdf is 1/4" thick so the hinge screws had to be filed down.

The roombox extension:
Another great option for accessibility (and a space saver!) is joining two separate pieces together.  I once saw this done at the Little Dollhouse Company on the Italianate Victorian they had for awhile and it's something that stuck with me.  I love the way a large build can be displayed and played with in parts.

On its own:
The back: isn't finished yet but it will be a simple wall that can be slid out and removed when needed. 

Next steps are ripping down thin strips of wood for flooring and cladding, and starting on the windows/doors at the front.  A lot of the framing will be redone in the new wood too.  And I'm working on my new kitchen design for the laser cutter.

Hope you all are well!  Happy mini-making this weekend!


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