Wednesday, 26 December 2007

First side finished!

As it is Christmas time, I have managed to squeeze in several hours on the clapboarding, and have finished the first side including the dormer! You can really start to see what the house will look like when it is finished. I'm really pleased with it.

The side is wider than the clapboard sticks. This wasn't a problem for most of it as the board run is interrupted by the kitchen bay or by windows. Where a board runs completely across, I was careful to stagger the joins.

I am getting into a routine with this and it is going a bit faster. I cut the pre-painted board to size (using cardboard templates for complicated shapes like the stair window) with either clippers or an X-acto knive, daub some paint on the cut end, apply QuickGrab (and possibly Tacky Glue) along the reverse top and bottom edges of the board, let it all dry briefly, then apply it to the house. If it is QuickGrab, then just holding it with finger pressure for several seconds is sufficient. I did this whole side with about 2/3rds of a tube of QuickGrab.

Because I have exposed wiring on the outside, I couldn't use QuickGrab glue on all the boards (it would dissolve the wire insulation), so where the boards would cross a wire, I used Tacky Glue on that section. This meant having to do some clamping and letting glue dry before I could move on with some sections.

So far (touch wood) I am not worried about running out of clapboard as there looks to be loads still in the box. You can use up lots of short bits on all the complicated fussy cutting, so I don't feel that I am wasting very much.

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope Santa brought you lots of good minis.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Clapboarding (is that a verb?)

I have officially started the clapboard application. I started on the kitchen bay window, as that is the most straightforward, with absolutely no angles or windows making it more difficult. You can see in the pic that I am lining up the pre-painted (two coats) boards with the pencil lines.

Then I moved on to the right wall. This has an inside corner to be trimmed each time, and now I am just starting to sculpt boards to fit around the stair window. I realised that I need to paint a little ring of green paint around all the elements, just in case I leave a tiny gap that you can see through when trimming the boards. I am snipping my clapboards with a hand-held cutter (like garden shears) that is sold by hobby stores, and using an X-acto knife for complicated cuts.

I think I am going to be doing this for a looooooooooong time.

Friday, 14 December 2007

A word about windows

I've now finished gluing on my windows. On the two bay windows, I painted the main body colour around the window openings as I thought it was going to be too fiddly to try to apply clapboard in such a tight area. The clapboard will start underneath the window sills. The windowsill of the living room bay required a certain amount of fiddling and trimming to get it to fit around the complex angles.

The small windows were a bit fiddly as well - these are the two second floor windows on the front, and the two on the side (although I am only using one side window as I didn't punch the ground floor side window opening). The instructions say to glue-laminate the three layers of external trim to form the window frame, aligning the top of the window opening. The implication is that you then achieve four matching window frames that appear as a solid unit along the edges such as the top edge and the sides of the window opening. Certainly in the box picture these look like solid one-piece windows.

I found that none of my three trim layers exactly matched each other on these small windows on all edges. And I don't mean they were a little bit out - it was more like a 1/8th or 3/16th inch difference on several edges. So for example, instead of the top of the window appearing like one solid edge, I have three distinct edges from the three layers, with perhaps the middle layer sinking inwards by 1/8th inch and the top layer protruding more. On the middle 'strut' of a couple of windows, the second layer is significantly narrower than the first layer.

I decided to just leave the separate layers showing, in a kind of 'carpenter gothic' effect. Where layers were almost the same (such as on the very tips of the wings of the upper flared part) I did sand to one level, but otherwise I just painted them all the same trim colour and sanded the individual edges smooth.

The other item that requires a bit of fiddling is the windowsill. On these small windows, the window sill fits over the three 'legs' of the window, and then fits into the actual window opening to form the sill. All of my window sills required customisation to get them to fit over the 'legs' of the window (slots needed widening) and into the window openings (tabs needed trimming). And in order to have the sill fit tightly against the window (i.e. no gaps beween the 'legs' and the back of the sill slot), I had to trim width off the sill on all the inside edges.

On the side window, I also had to trim length off the sill on one side because it was obstructed by the corner trim.

When gluing the small windows onto the house, I found one window opening was too tall - if I aligned the tops of the window openings, but glued the sill onto the bottom edge of the opening, it left a significant gap between the sill and the bottom of the window trim. I filled this with a bit of coffee stirrer - now that it is painted to match, it looks like part of the 'carpenter gothic' effect.

Now that all the windows are on, I am gearing up for the clapboard and have started painting clapboard pieces after giving them a spray of sealer on both sides. This is a tedious job, thank goodness for podcasts to listen to while I do it.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Still painting trim, porch, starting to install windows

I've put in several hours now on painting and installing trim / windows, but there is still so much more to do. I keep thinking something is done, then when I look at it from a slightly different angle, or with better lighting, I see more spots that need a touch-up, or a fill, or sanding down.

Step S - (install porch assembly) - the instructions say to lay the house on its back but I didn't do this - I found it easy enough to just slightly lift the roof piece and slide the porch trim assembly into place. I had previously checked that a) the slots in the roof were wide enough to accommodate the tabs on the porch assembly, and b) that the tabs going into the wall from the porch assembly were going to fit into their slots. I also trimmed down the wall tabs so they just went into the house wall, and wouldn't protrude too much on the other side (particularly in the stairwell where it is practically impossible to get at them. I applied glue all around the top of the assembly but was worried about the base adhering to the porch floor, as the tabs are quite loose in their holes. So while the assembly was clamped to dry, I also fitted the Porch Base Trim (step S.3) making sure to glue it to both the porch post and the porch floor, for some extra adhesion. I let it dry all night, then took the clamps off, holding my breath in case the whole assembly popped back up off the floor, but it didn't. Whew. I then added some additional trim to the post bases with coffee stirrers, giving a panelled effect that also covers up the raw edges.

Step S.2 (Porch Roof Trim) - I dry-fitted this and drew a pencil line around the inside then removed the trim. I used the pencil line as a guide when spreading diluted glue and sprinkling with bird sand. Once this was dry, I removed the excess and painted it black for a 'flat roof' effect. Then I glued on the painted Porch Roof Trim. I made sure to trim the tabs so they wouldn't protrude too much into the house.

Step V (brackets)- the majority of my brackets disintegrated when I punched them from the plywood sheet - the interior seemed to just crumble to brown dust, leaving me with two pieces of veneer skin. I may try to recreate some for the roof trim, but for the porch I decided to substitute some dentil trim that I had, which I think looks quite shoplike. Once painted, I think it gives a good profile.

Installing windows - looking at other pictures of Greenleaf houses, I can see that many people apply the painted windows on top of the house wall, leaving the house wall showing as a different coloured 'filling' in the sandwich of the exterior and interior window trim. I didn't think this looked very realistic, so I have been painting the inside of the window cutout to match the exterior trim. This sounds simple, but the reality is a lot of rough wood so sanding and filling. Also, most of the exterior window trim is not an exact match to the profile of the window cutout. I debated sanding the window cutout to match the exterior window trim, but was afraid of distorting the opening. So painting a little 'surround' around the window cutout, to match the exterior trim, disguises the fact that it is protruding a bit. On the front dormer window, I also painted a little 'surround' in the green body colour where the balcony was going to go, as it will be impossible to get in there to fit clapboard or paint after the balcony is glued on. So far I have glued on the two bathroom windows, the dormer windows and am working on the kitchen bay window.

Step M ( Front Dormer Gable Trim) - this assembly took an incredible amount of sanding - in fact it was more like sculpting at some points. The cut-outs have quite rough edges, but also, when you place the trim over a contrasting colour, you notice right away how irregular and unmatched they are. It took quite a bit of fiddling to get them to an approximately similar shape. I don't know what shape the cutout on the very peak is supposed to be, mine was just a rough opening. By the time I finished sanding and filling, it looked a bit shell-shaped so I left it at that. There was quite a bit of filling/sanding needed on the outside edges, and to cover up crevices where bits of ply had fallen out, etc. In the meantime, I decided to finish the sides of the barrel roof in clapboard, which I painted green. I found when I fitted my Gable Trim that it did not fit entirely flush against the front of the house on one side, so I was careful to leave my clapboard protruding slightly from the house on that side to fill in the gap. I also painted a ring of green where the cut-outs of the trim would show through to the layer below, and at the top where the Front Dormer Trim/Back would go, so that I would get a three-layer paint effect. The Trim/Back I painted in the dark blue trim colour. Clamping the Gable Trim turned out to be almost impossible as you can only get a clamp on at the very top, so I used Quick Grab glue and clamped with hand pressure for a few minutes.
Step T (Balcony) - I found that I had to trim down the 'tabs' on the balcony a little bit with my Dremel sander before it would fit into the opening, and also slightly adjust the back of the brackets so they would fit flush against the house. Then I glued it on, with lots of glue around the 'tab'. You can see how I clamped it on by using my clamps through window openings and some scrap wood.