August 24, 2010

Architectural images from Normandy

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2010
I love this old lantern with all the fancy, stamped metal embellishments.
These images have been left in higher resolution so do be sure to click on them for better viewing.

Every once in a while I take a little vacation back to France by going through folders of photos I took 3 years summers ago. The are of real value to me in helping to create a realistic dollhouse. It is not so much that I exactly copy a specific architectural detail. The value is that I know exactly what the textures and colors of the materials I am using should like when I finish the parts for my project.

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2010

Looking at this photo I took in the Normandy region of France of  hinges and shutters I think I did get my miniature versions to look just right.

August 18, 2010

Making the pintles

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2010

A quick hinge preview for you. I won't install the hinges until after the shutters are painted. I have drilled the nail holes into the straps. The wire nails I will fabricate will go all the way through the shutter and then be bent over and clinched on the opposite side of the wood.

I have used a patina product called "Instant Rust" from Modern Options on the hinges. It is real rust but just a light surface coating. I have not used this product before, I am pleased with it. I purchased it in my local hardware store, it is part of a line of decorator products.

photo copyright Karin Corbin 2010

The pintles I am using to hang the shutters are very simple to make. I have used annealed steel wire. Make a simple 90 degree L shaped bend and then cut to length. Don't forget to dress off the end of the wire so it is smooth with no sharp edges left from being cut by the pliers. The other end that goes into the wall can be pointed. That is what the cup shaped grinding stone in the Dremel motor is for, dressing smooth the end you don't want to be sharp.

August 17, 2010

Dollhouses come in cans?

I have started fabricating the shutter hinges. They will be strap hinges with a pintle support that comes out of the wall of the house. A very basic type of hinge that is not difficult to make.

Research told me a thickness of 3/16 of an inch was used for some real hinges of this type. That meant I needed metal of approx .01 inches to create a 1:12 scale part. Digging into the drawers of metals I have on hand I found a tinned can that was a good match. As I wanted steel for the hinges that also meant it was a good choice. There was a strip of metal wound around the key used to open the can. That is what I am working with.

The tin and plastic coating on the can must be burned off with a torch. This is a job to do outside as the fumes are not good for you. You can anneal the metal at the same time as you burn off the tin. I have given my metal a hammered finish so I had to again anneal the area I was going to form into the hinge barrel as the hammering work hardened the metal.

I am forming the end of the strap around a piece of music wire that I am holding in a vise. Music wire is very stiff and strong so it makes a good forming rod. Tonight's new discovery was that my pair of nylon tipped pliers I purchased at a bead store make easy work of the forming. I can grab onto the metal and hold it against the music wire without damaging the metals. The nylon is soft enough to gain a grip onto the hinge strap so I can pull the strap around to form that tight circle. The top surface of the vise acts as an alignment guide so I get a barrel that is at the correct square angle instead of being crooked in alignment. Of course my forming pin must be clamped at exactly 90 degrees to the top of the vise for this simple trick to work. Or if your don't own a vise you can drill a perfectly perpendicular hole the same diameter as the music wire in a piece of hardwood as use that as your forming tool jig.

Now that I have the hinge barrel formed tomorrow I can cut the strap to length, drill holes in it and even do some decorative shaping of the strap if I wish to do so.

Progress on shutters

The wood work on the shutters is coming along nicely.

I need to make the decision to paint them blue or leave them as they are. I think the aging looks very nice. Of course they are meant to be worn by the wind and the rain as well as having a coat of grime and a hint of green slime. I think I will have to leave the decision to paint or not paint until later when I can do a temporary installation. The  overall look of the project will tell me what to do. I suspect that I will choose the option of painting but for now I will enjoy them as they are.

I have not made the hinges, latches and shutter hooks yet. That is something I am looking forward to doing although no doubt I will feel plenty of frustration during the fabrication of them.

August 15, 2010

Building the shutters

I have started cutting the parts for the window shutters. They are basic plank board shutters but I am adding some extra detail so they have a little more interest than a plain board does. My boards are being artificially weathered for an aged look. The wood I am using is Western Red Cedar and I have selected pieces with tight, vertical grain. They will be painted blue but the first step is to make the board have a gray tone. You can see the natural color in the groove I just cut.

A groove is cut near the edges of the boards. I want the groove to be the same distance on both edges of the boards so I am using a  jig to control the position. A small flame shaped jeweler's steel burr is being used to cut the detail. My shaper is a Cameron Deep Throat drill press, this is a specialized drill press that  turns very fast and accurately, almost as fast as a router. You can't use router bits or most cutting burrs (exception diamond coated burrs) in most drill presses and get a smooth cut in wood. So generally this work needs to be done with a Dremel or Proxxon motor mounted into a drill press or even a router table. Those machines turn fast enough for routing. Always check that the bit you are using is rated to run at the maximum rpm you plan to use for cutting.

What is important is having complete control over the board you are putting a groove into. I have created a channel which controls the board. The groove will now stay in the exact position along the edge. The only work my hands have to do is push down on the board while pushing it along through the groove.

My jig is  not fancy or complicated, it is built from wood scraps. The fence at the rear is permanently fixed to the base of the jig. The fence at the front is not fixed, I clamp it into position as required. It needs to be adjustable as my shutters are of different widths. Remember jigs can be easy to make and inexpensive. The results you get will make you look like a professional.