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!

22 Mar 2017

CC2017: Structure Design

My small 'cabin' didn't stay small for long!

I've figured out my changes to the structure design and completed most of the base construction.  I just need to cut and frame out the many windows.  I've decided to go contemporary with concrete, wood, and glass.  I felt like a flat roof would be more suited to this style but I want to keep the essence of the kit as much as possible.  So it will be a mix of flat and angled roof lines.


I made some changes to the kit layout...  The right side wall now recessed and I took away the kit's porch. Instead I've cut out some living space to make room for a new porch and a new front.

And the whole thing might have increased in square footage...  easy to do when the floor slides out and you can slide in a new bigger piece ;)

I decided to add even more additional space to create an airy and open main living room.  One side features a separate room box with a bed and bath. The new rooms are a little smaller then I'd like... but I'm trying to keep this house from sprawling out!  They'll just have to do!

The planned layout is below:

Thankfully the whole building fits great on top the desk I have!

Update: Incase anyone else is questioning, I was just reassured that all the kit bashing is all okay :) Whew! Build away!

Hope your all having a great week!

4 Mar 2017

Change Up in the Studio! CC2017

I had grand plans for Valentine's day last month; a marble fireplace, a city view, and chocolates!  I knew I needed a new project to inspire me.  I recently read 10 Newbie Dollhouse Mistakes and How to Fix Them by Small House models and realized I'd actually made a bunch of them.  Building a huge dollhouse just wasn't helping my creativity and I needed something smaller. 

A room box seemed like a good bet, I've made plenty before.  I always remember foam board being an easy go-to material for building... but I guess my love of modern interiors and the precision of MDF has changed me.  I just couldn't seem to get my cuts square or straight without wallpapering the entire thing.

This is as far as the scene got before I left it.  I loved the fireplace but the large windows to the left (no shown) just weren't fitting together.

After four weeks I decided it was time to move on.  I took a previous room box I'd made and outfitted it into a studio of sorts just to keep me busy (looks nothing like my workspace in real life because it's way too tidy!) I added a mini paper version of the room box I had been working on using my Silhouette Portrait (electronic paper cutter machine) along with some pieces from a 1:24 farmhouse kit. The light and tripod are based off of Pepper's tutorial here!

That night I sat down at the computer and finally decided it was time to buy a pre-fab dollhouse kit.

And not just any house, a smaller house!

I loved the HBS Craftman Cabin the moment I saw it months ago.  It's the first small dollhouse I've really liked enough to even consider buying.  As much as I love designing my own spaces from scratch and using the laser cutter I am so excited to have something I know I will be able to complete in a reasonable amount of time and has a build plan.  That said...  it sure won't look like the kit for long!

Hope you're all having a great weekend!  Please let me know if you're doing this kit too, I'd love to follow along!

PS:  I was left speechless at how quickly this dry-fit went.  I have never experienced such easy miniature construction in my life.  No wonder people love kits!!  THE WINDOWS LITERALLY GLIDE IN.


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