Saturday, October 29, 2011


Finished, installed chimney on a roof. Although I have some great resin cast chimneys, sometimes I make my own from HIRST ARTS mold #70 using dental plaster.
From left to right we have 1) top view of casting, 2) its blank underside, 3) underside after carving with an awl/nail and a squarish smoke hole drilled/carved in each end (not shown), and 4) cut in half. Of course, an uncut one would look great on a haunted house!

The non-smoke hole ends of the two pieces were drilled and a round toothpick was glued in for pinning to a roof. Then they were painted. Cool! Two chimneys!

NEXT: The HG WALLS technique of roof shingling!

Monday, October 24, 2011


This article explains a method I use to simulate wattle and daub between the timbers of Medieval buildings. It’s much easier to do than you think.

Our example when completely done and painted.

The building’s shell, 1/8” MDF with 1/16” balsa timber strips, primed a black-brown (with green interior). Blue tape shows where the windows and door will be.
First, with a popsicle stick I scooped some spackle/wall filler into a small cup, then added a very small squirt of black-brown paint, which makes it stickier and easier to apply as well as giving it a nice neutral gray color all the way through. Mixed it until the consistency of very thick frosting.
Working one end or side at a time I plaster the stuff on (except at the top where a wood insert is or at window/door openings)…

…then scraped off the excess with a large paint scraper held at a 45 degree angle. A mini-scraper (Xacto with blade reversed), a small frayed brush, and an awl/nail will be used to clean out window/door openings and timber cracks.

I carefully ran an old Xacto blade around the edges for separation. You’ll notice the blade causes the spackle to lift slightly where it was used. Not to worry, this gets corrected in a bit. For now it’s spackle, scrape and edge the next end/wall.

The gooey spackle set up until it was like soft clay (15-20 minutes?). I used my finger to GENTLY pat the raised edges towards the center of each section (this side view shows it best). I patted the centers as well. I got some spackle gunk in an area but not a problem, I just gently pressed them in as they add texture and character. I reran the Xacto around the edges and repatted as needed, cleaned out any timbering knotholes and cracks that bothered me, then let the entire building dry overnight.

The finished end ready for painting. You can see I added a crack above the door when I was running the Xacto blade around the edges.

NEXT: The chimney.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Here’s a couple of gauges I made to mark where timbering goes on the building. Made them by gluing standard uprights and some long strips to a piece of paper, then cut out the “holes”. Flipped it over and glued it to another piece of paper, cut out the holes. Simple to make and strong! (I need to redo the funky photo.)

I made a sheet of standard window inserts in MSN Paint, then made a window plug-in so I don’t have to measure every individual window opening. For door openings I just use the door I’ll be using.

Sample boards are useful when trying out ideas. The one on the left was for testing shingle stain colors. the one on the right was for wall texture testing. and the bottom one was for testing wall filler as a wall texture.

NEXT: Simulating wattle and daub.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Here’s a photo of my work table…
No, it normally doesn’t look this organized. I straightened it up for the photographers of Hobby Work Table Quarterly. The lamp set-up for photos is easily removed.

Along with the usual Xacto knife, rulers, squares, and such, here are some odd tools you might not be familiar with. On the left is a single razor blade holder, excellent for cutting long strips of balsa into shorter lengths. Next is a quilter’s gauge for quick and short measurements. The reverse side has different measurements as well. Got it at a fabric store, as I did the sliding ruler below (for repeated measurements 2-6”). On the right are two adjustable balsa strippers from my local model railroad shop…

     One stripper I leave set for 3/16 inches, my usual timbering strip width. The other I adjust as needed.

The stripper in action. If I’m using a bunch of the same height timbers I simply cut balsa sheet rows to the correct height (next photos), then slice off the strips and pile ‘em in a bin at the back of my work table.

I made this simple jig out of basswood for cutting those rows from sheet balsa. One side has 1-7/8“. Rotate it around and it’s 1-3/4” …

Flip the jig over and it’s for 4 inch wide ends/walls.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Set up for making crosscuts.

Rip cuts are made by clamping a board to the side of the table as a guide. (OK, I admit it, I don’t this very often since I cut long standard strips on a regular table saw and keep them stacked nearby.)
A jig for making building end pieces, made from the same 1/8” MDF I use for the buildings. Underneath there’s rail to slide the jig along the table edge.

Adjusted for making large end pieces. The point is that it’s easy to make simple jigs to make the job easier. “Work smarter, not harder.”

When I cut a bunch of parts, I store them in a bin.

NEXT: My work table and some odd tools I use. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011


My beloved scroll saw, mounted on a moveable table.

The tray is easily removed to dump out the sawdust. Sitting right behind the blade is a “reminder” to my tiny brain that the blade is loose and needs to be tightened…

My reminder, also used to tighten the blade. For a long time it was painful to twist the fluted tightening knob since it’s only an inch in diameter. I finally made this handy tightening thing that goes over it. MUCH better!

I made a platform that slides in and out…

Underside of the sliding table.

NEXT: Scroll saw jigs!

Monday, October 3, 2011


Another small cottage.

All wood fisherman's house.

A group of huts (no bases). Two women discuss that huge "HUTS" sign.

An unfinished COACHING INN shell.