Dining Room – working on the missing furniture
Bought three Jane Harrop 1:12 furniture kits from her 30s – 40s era range; the drop-leaf table, the fireside chairs and the dining chairs, and thought I ‘d better start with the ‘simplest’ one.
Experience with kits?
I’d used one of her kits before for the cooker and personalised it to bring it more into the 50s with four metal burners and covered it with stick on shiny self-adhesive coloured film from Elf Miniatures rather than painting it. I’d found the instructions very easy to follow as they included colour photos of various stages as well, so, before starting out on the first kit I have some idea of what to expect.
The dining chairs – parts for two provided in the kit
Marked as ‘for beginners‘ in her book “Thirties and Forties Miniatures in 1:12 Scale” (Amazon and Abebooks ) I set out to follow the kit instructions as carefully as I could. (And yes, I’ve found these costs quoted for a copy of the book to be quite common, but if you look out for it, and are not in a rush, it occasionally pops up on auction sites at a less breathtaking price – which is how I recently acquired mine.)
If you’ve got the book why buy the kits, I hear you ask?
The book has the same instructions and photos as the kits but I’m afraid there was no way I could produce the excellent and uniform cutting of strip wood to the required sizes listed in the book for the furniture and expect to produce anything like square sets of uniform lengths, whereas the kit has it all beautifully machine cut.
In the kit
Fool-hardy and somewhat cavalier in attitude regarding my craftwork I may be, but not yet so silly as to attempt to do two chairs at the same time. I like to work on the principle that if I make a disappointing mess of it with the first one (a) I’d have experience of how it works and what to watch out for and (b) one chair done more of less adequately would be better than two messy ones.
Items required and some to add
Tacky glue is advised on the packet of the kit. I use a Bostik white glue (semi tacky) and a minute droplet of PVA – I find that, as long as you don’t keep moving the joint around, they make a very good set together and are not too immediately sticky to clear up any excess from the joints.
Shoe polish for colouring and finish of wood. We only have black and what is labelled brown but looks more like ox-blood colour so I went for Georgian Oak wood stain and a finish of Scratch Remover for Light Wood which adds a pleasant woody glow to the stain which remains even when burnished up.
Square drying needed
Next needed is a square jig of some sort. I needed to try out the metal bars (see “Passing on the Word”) bought recently for use as a square jig. Great weight and speedy delivery after ordering, my only disappointment is that the ends are not cut quite as square as I’d have liked so they don’t sit right. I made sure of how I’d set them out with a set square each time I moved any of the bars. I’d bought four so that gave me two jigs to work with, handy for sticking the first pieces to each of the two sides of a chair so that they could be drying at the same time.
Marking and cleaning
I’ve added a propelling pencil for marking distances and centres, a thin stiff-ish bristle brush for removing excess squishy glue and a damp cloth for cleaning brush between times and my fingers all the time.
What is provided
- a fine piece of sandpaper
- a beautiful and amply sized piece of glove leather
- plenty of wadding for the drop in seats
Laying out the pieces
First chair – two halves drying
Never sure that the table I’m using is as flat as it should be, I used a thick-ish piece of MDF as a surface and placed a plastic mat under the metal bars so that any excess glue escaping under the kit pieces wouldn’t stick themselves to the MDF!
All the instructions have been incredibly clear and the only juggling is has been with my fingers and small pieces of wood.
As drying is now the thing, that’s probably as much as is going to get done today I reckon. As all the joints are flat butted and not pinned I must be more than usually careful (me being pretty clumsy) not to knock it as I go along. Once the seat is in place it should be much stronger but there’s two more pieces to be squeezed in before I reach that. And then there’s the second chair …