March 13, 2010

Bench Hook

Have you ever needed a little portable workbench you can use on the dining room table or counter top? Have you ever tried to saw something too big for a razor saw miter box and had it slide all over the place? If so then make yourself a "bench hook". Bench hooks have been around for eons, they are an ancient, simple and very useful jig. They are called hooks because they have a cleat that hooks over the front edge of a work bench or table or counter top.

There is certainly not much involved in making one of these. You will need a flat board and nice straight wood to make the cleats. One cleat is on top at the rear of the top, the other goes underneath the front edge. Be sure to keep the top cleat shorter than the length of the board you glue it to so the saw can clear the cleat. I have left room on both the left and right side of the cleat. Cleat boards are easy to make from 1" x 2" lumber. I have used a leftover piece of Baltic Birch plywood for my base since it was lying around unused. I make sure my top cleat has a truly square 90 degree cut on the ends so they can be used a guides for a flush razor saw that has no tooth set. That type of saw won't cut into the cleat that is guiding it. You could make the other end of the upper cleat a 45 degree angle for a miter cutting guide.

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2010

I have spray glued some rubber drawer liner to the bottom side of mine. That will protect the table top or counter top I use it on from scratches. It will help the bench hook grip to the surface I am using it on which will make working with it easier.

Look Mom no clamps to screw and unscrew! Need to stop to make and eat dinner and your project is in the way? It is easy to pick up the board with the project still on it and set it aside until you can get back to work.

How they work is simple, if you are using a saw that cuts on the stroke that pushes away from your body or using other tools that you push away from you such as chisels then the force of the tool keeps the bench hook in position. Of course you are not limited to just those tasks, you can use them for cutting boards with knives or for light duty hammering tasks. Make one with a Formica (laminate) covering on the top, wax the Formica and you can glue or paint projects on top of  your bench hook.

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2010

In the photo above I have placed a board I am going to cut against the rear cleat lining up the cut mark with the end of the cleat. Next I clamped a piece of plywood in place that lines up with the edge of the rear cleat. That clamped wood will do two things for me, first it keeps the wood I am cutting from shifting around so much, second it gives me a square edge to guide my razor saw against. I did not care that my scrap plywood had a hole in it or that it looks ugly, what matters is that there is an accurate 90 edge to guide my saw against.

See the bucket in the photo below? Just think of all the potential jigs for making miniatures that are hiding in there! With a few buckets of leftover wood, some glue, brads and a few screws you can create so much for so little money. There was that scrap of plywood with a hole in it sitting right on top.
photo copyright Karin Corbin 2010

March 9, 2010

Holding my breath

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2010

Have you ever been really nervous about making a part because if you messed it up there would not have been enough material to redo it? That is the case with the band that is just under the top piece of the mantel. I call it a smoke apron, usually I know the correct architectural name for such elements but this time I don't. It functions to direct the smoke up the chimney. I have not fully assembled the fireplace yet, things are just loose stacked together. I can see I need to mix up a little stone filler for some small voids between the apron piece and the mantel top. To make the filler I take stone dust and mix it with PVA glue into a thick paste. Simple to do and it is a perfect color match when it dries.

In  photos of old cottages you sometimes see that the owner has put a little fabric curtain (skirting) below the mantel in the effort to keep the smoke out of their eyes and out of the room.

Now I only have two small pieces of stone left to make and if I don't get it right the first try I still have enough stone to make them over. A little touch up here and there on the carving too. Then I have to finish the brick work inside the fireplace. There are still the chimney pieces to create but that does not worry me, it is child's play compared to cutting and carving the stone.

March 5, 2010

Curtains and copper

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2010

I spotted a fabric in my local quilting store I thought my do for the curtains in the box bed area. Of course I had to buy a 1/4 yard of it. For some reason the print and colors reminded me of the Provencal prints although it is not one.  I think the fabrics terracotta color is going to be just right in the room. It will play off the terracotta of the fireplace bricks and highlight the copper pots and pans.

There will only be a little bit of curtain showing once I get the front made for the box bed. I want to get the curtains and mattress made before I put on the front face. I have not finalized my design for that piece of woodwork. I am still trying to decide if I will carve in a bit of a wave motif, or repeat a  celtic knotwork motif to tie in with the baby bed or maybe a bit of both. I hope to make up my mind in the next few days. I am feeling the need to get the walls fixed into position and get to the roofing.

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2010

The slate shingles I made seem to have provided the stimulus to drive me to move on to the roofing stage of the project. I really want to glue them on but I can't just yet as the edges will be prone to damage and I don't want to risk that. I did get the roof boards glued onto the bed shed ready for the slates to be installed.

I don't have a big collection of miniature items but I try to have on hand enough things to create a bit of a display inside of houses for shows and photos. One thing I do love is copper pots and pans. I used to own them for my real house but I downsized and let go of most of my antiques and decorative items. However it takes little room to have them in miniature size so that is where I indulge my love of such things. It was fun to open the boxes I store them in and play dollhouse trying out this and that item in the room to see how it will all look one of these days.

Tomorrow is the Seattle Dollhouse show. I am going to take my camera along to share a bit of the fun with all of you.