Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Step G - Staircase Sub-Assembly

While I was waiting for paint to dry, I thought I would do the Step G – Staircase Sub-Assembly. Whew!! This is exhausting. I found and punched out all the pieces for Step A and B (some of these were in my ziplock bag because they were embedded within pieces already punched for other steps). This was my first go with using my glue, which is Evo-stik wood adhesive, a white glue that dries clear. I was very taken aback at how runny it was and how it gushed out of the nozzle, but when I think about it, I have been using Aileen’s Tacky Glue almost exclusively for years so that’s why the Evo-stik seems so runny to me. I found it hard to control from the nozzle so shifted to using those paper ketchup cups that you can acquire at McDonald’s to hold the glue, which I then applied with an offcut. The other aspect I found difficult was that, unlike Tacky Glue, the Evo-stik has no ‘grab’ to it, so I was reduced to using loads of masking tape. I was worried about how long it would take to dry, but surprisingly it sets up in 5-10 minutes which is good.

Step A was fairly straightforward, but went a lot easier once I realised that I was misreading my own pencil marks and gluing everything to piece 7 (the back of the stairs) instead of to piece 1 (the front of the stairs). I am trying not to get glue everywhere as I am planning to stain the staircase. I am not staining up front because I know a lot of the pieces will be hidden in the finished product so I am not wasting my time.

Once that glue set up, I moved on to Step B. You can see in the picture my working setup: the stair is propped up on some offcuts (because there is a tab underneath that stops it sitting square on its own); I have masking tape cut in half ready to be used as clamps, and I have all the stairs, landings and risers laid out in order. My working procedure was to find the next piece, fit it on the structure to check, then erase the pencil mark and give it a final sand, then glue in place and masking tape it to hold. I got into a bit of trouble partway up, because as far as I can see, Stair 6 and Stair 7 are actually the same stair and there is only one. I spent a while looking, thinking I had missed on punching out a stair, but when I counted up from the first stair, I can see that in fact this is likely a misprint in the instructions. Either that or I am constructing a unique and special staircase that will be like no other staircase.

Turning the second landing and moving up the last set of stairs got more difficult. My part 6 stair cut-out does not seem to exactly match the stair cut-out in part 5. And as I glued on risers, it started looking more and more like a parallelogram instead of square. I glued on the stairs and forcibly masking taped it back into something resembling square (and stair 12 seemed way too deep?) and am comforting myself that no-one is going to see this part of the staircase anyway once the house is constructed. In fact, really, the whole last few hours have almost been a waste of time, but I suppose that I will know that my (special, unique) staircase is there. Now that I’ve done Step C, I think it would make more sense to glue on Stair Trim 4 during Step A, as it would support the wonky part 6 and keep it spaced apart properly. But you should probably punch out Stair Trim 1 and use it to make sure that you are positioning Stair Trim 4 properly as it needs to touch Stair Trim 1 at its bottom end (if I find out this isn’t right when I get to installing the staircase into the house, I will come back and correct this post).

Step C surprisingly leaves out the important information in the 2nd line that you should lay Stair Trim 2 face up on your staircase sub-assembly, not just on the table. Otherwise the trim never actually gets glued to the sub-assembly if you follow the instructions literally. Also in the 2nd line, the reference to aligning Stair 1 and 3 tabs is referring to Stair ‘Trim’ 1 and 3, not the 1 and 3 you used in Step A. I’m just nitpicking really, you can figure this stuff out yourself after a few baffled minutes.

I’ve started gluing the actual house together! (the paint is dry now). After gluing in the centre wall, and looking at this thin glue joint in the foundation and thinking of all the abuse it is going to take as I construct the rest of the house, I cut off some chunks of batten (about .5” x 1.5”) and glued them in a few places to reinforce the joint. While I was waiting for the glue to dry, I stained the staircase - it looks surprisingly good. I wasn't expecting much with this wood quality and the somewhat crude construction, but it actually doesn't look too bad. Because I will not be using the entry/living room wall, you may be able to see the staircase in the corner (if you stick your head into the dollshouse) so it is good to know it will look reasonable.


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Sandie said...

I think it's just as well you have had experience in constructing houses before! Staircases are such a nice feature in a building, I'm glad you kept it in even if you will only get a glimpse of it when the rest is built.