02 February 2018

Useful Tools for Making Tabletop Buildings. . .

 A magnetic gluing jig available from Micromark.com.  Micromark. . .  The small tool specialists!

A quick post this Friday morning, before I begin the great sport of playing telephone tag with several area contractors. . .  to line up someone to take care of a few home improvements for us here at Totleigh-in-the-Wold this summer.  Hopefully.  

If there is anything more mind numbing than work-related meetings, similar gatherings at your child's school now and then, or time spent in the waiting rooms of doctors and dentists, it surely must be transmissions into that vast black void, otherwise known as voicemail.  So many waking hours in our terminally "wired" and connected era seem to be taken up with calling and leaving messages on people's phones never to hear back from them.  Without three or four follow-up calls on your part over the next several days that is.  Ground control to Major Tom?  Major Tom?  Major Tom?  It doesn't strike me as the way for service providers of any kind to do business.  But what do I know?  

I always think of Cybil Fawlty's nemesis Mr. O'Reilly in an early episode of Fawlty Towers (The Builders?) whenever I must go through the machinations involved with trying to line up a plumber, furnace man, electrician, etc., etc., etc.  If you find someone who is at all conscientious about getting back to you, who provides rapid, quality work, and who is reasonably priced, be sure to give that man -- for they are almost all still men in 2018 in my experience -- ALL of your future business.  The trick, of course, is in sorting the fine grains of wheat from all of the chaff.   

The garage for occasional work on the car, on the other hand, seems to be of a different breed.  More like Mako Sharks in a way.  They always get back to you quickly with a day/time to take the car in to look things over.  Cah-ching, cah-ching, cah-ching. . .  The old sound manual cash registers with their bells and change-filled drawers used to make before going digital in the late 1970s-early 80s.  Remember when?

Anyway,  today's post is an addendum to last week's showcase of several recent Baltic German town buildings.  On further reflection, it seems like a good idea to share  some information that might make others' tabletop construction efforts easier.  Here are a few specialist tools I like.  

The first is a magnetic gluing jig for getting your walls assembled at precise right angles.  A circle cutter is very handy for those times when a cardboard toilet paper tube just won't do, and you need to produce either cylinders or rounded parts for church towers, smokestacks, water wheels on the sides of old mills, and the like.  A metal protractor with a ruler attached helps immeasurably -- Groan! -- with getting the angles on gable end walls just right.  And, of course,  a small, self-standing machinist's square has all sorts of uses and applications. A plastic burnishing tool, available in many big box arts and crafts stores, helps with burnishing the edges of your cut-out pieces before assembly begins.  Doing so makes everything look a bit more nicely finished even before painting takes place.

Along with the usual photographic references, heavy cardboard (aka chipboard) or foamcore, balsa and basswood strips, hobby and craft knives (with sharp new blades), a metal ruler, a cutting mat, glue, and some assorted bottles of acrylic craft paint, these items are extremely helpful in the construction of your own tabletop real estate.  Their use makes the process relatively easy and relatively quick while also minimizing wasted materials and frustration.

Three final tips that might be of some assistance.  One, keep your hands clean, which prevents annoying fingerprints (in the glue and/or paint) and smears as you assemble and later paint/finish your buildings.  You may occasionally need to wash your hands halfway through a workbench session.  

Two, have a look at one or more books on the design and construction of architectural models and theatrical scenery.  Both are fascinating subject areas in their own right, and from which you are bound to glean lots of interesting ideas, tips, and tricks not necessarily found in the pages of books on the construction of tabletop scenery for wargaming and model railroad use.  

Last of all, and as with so much else, when you get tired and/or make a mistake, stop.  Clean up your work area, and put things away.  Come back to your project the next evening with a fresh mind, hands, and eyes that aren't quite so tired.  You'll thank yourself later.  

Now, what are you waiting for?  Time to get started building your own Tuileries Palace in 28mm.  Selectively compressed of course.

-- Stokes

A heavy duty circle cutter, which can handle, among other materials, cardboard and leather.  Available from Amazon.

A special protractor with a ruler attached, perfect for getting the angles on those gables, and subsequently roof lines, just right.  Also available from Amazon.

 A 4" or 5" steel machinist's square is very helpful for ensuring that everything is squared up as you glue the various sections of your outer walls together and stands at 90 degrees relative to your table surface.  Available from both Micromark and Amazon among other suppliers


Wellington Man said...

This is another outstandingly useful post, Stokes.
Best regards and many thanks,

A J said...

Useful tools. And yes, I know all too well what you are going through with the phone tag. The curse of the modern age.


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