(Editor’s note: Click on any of the images to see larger versions for more detail)
In this segment I talk about moving from fairly accurate, technical drawings and measurements to actually cutting materials and fitting pieces together for the working door and windows.
We’ll start with the door and then move on to the window design and construction. The door was the easier of the two “working” parts to create and assemble. The windows were trickier than I thought but we’ll cover that a bit later.
I placed my Reaper miniature on the graph paper to use as my guide for approximating the height and width of the door. I marked out the outer most points on the grids to connect them with my ruler and then carefully drew the pieces that would make up the door and the surrounding door frame. You can see the initial measurements in the picture to the right.
(A word of caution before you attempt to build a working door–remember to take into account the interior width of the door! I flubbed it by focusing more on the outermost measurement of the door frame instead of how wide the inside would be when the door was opened to its maximum position–this despite all of my careful planning and measuring of the entire door frame.)
I wanted the door in one piece so I opted for 1/4″ thick Balsa that was easy to cut and score to look like a door assembled from plank timber. The 1/4″ thick piece would also allow me to add door strap hinges to the frame for a really cool effect. The 1/4″ thick Balsa also allowed for a nice rectangular aperture to be cut out for a window.
As you may know, Balsa wood is very soft. Very easy to screw up, so to hold up the door I opted for using Basswood strips for the door frame. Since the goal was to have the piece be able to open and close on hinges, I knew that Basswood would hold miniature nails better than Balsa. The nails held really well in the door frame but the Balsa wood door was so soft that I decided to use super glue on the door straps for extra support and to assure that the nails would hold. If you look closely just below the bottom door strap hinge, you can see a faint outline of where I pushed just a bit too hard and almost embedded the hinge into the door.
The nails that come with the hinges are incredibly tiny. Too small even for my push hammer. I wound up using needle nose pliers to set and push them into the door. They went into the Balsa easily but the Basswood gave a little resistance so I had to be careful not bollocks up the whole thing with one miscalculated shove. Incidentally, if you click on the image above for the larger size and then change the image name to img_2240a.jpg you can see the measurement in millimeters. I’m sorry that I don’t have the other measurements in MM for the project however.
Here’s what the assembled door and door frame looks like mounted to the door step or stoop. I drove four of the 3/8″ miniature nails into the bottom of the stoop to hold the frame firmly in place (two per side). It’s starting to shape up and the hinges work great. If you build a door like this, be sure to leave enough clearance on the side of the door opposite of the hinges so it can clear the door frame. Another thing to think about before you mount the door with hinges–pay attention to which way the door will open. As mounted here, the door opens “outward” (toward you if you were pulling it open). To have the door open inward (as if pushed open), you’d have to have the hinges on the back side of the door–but they wouldn’t be visible (unless you cut off the barrel hinge and glued just the strap to the face of the door).
You can see in this picture that there is just barely enough clearance for the miniature to fit through the doorway at the base. The measurement I left out of the equation when planning it was the 1/4″ thickness of the door. When the door is fully opened, the base can fit through the portal with a bit of a friendly nudge. I filed down the lower right corner of the door frame to help the base slide through a bit easier (see the fourth picture up from this one).
Still, I was pretty tickled that overall the whole thing was working out so well–and it was so easy to put together.
The door needed a few more pieces of hardware (a lock plate and some sort of handle) so I pulled out some scraps of Balsa and got out my Xacto saw blades. Those things are great for cutting through small pieces on projects like this. If you have any doubts as to their abilities, have a look at the picture to the right. I cut cleanly through a piece of balsa a little less than 2mm thick. These slices would be used for the lock plates.
Everything used for this step is pictured to the left. The files I used are made by Gale Force 9. I picked them up at my FLGS (Favorite Local Game Store). They come in really handy for small projects like this (and for cleaning the flash off of metal miniatures!).
Once I had the slices cut for the lock plates, I used a miniature file to bore a hole into the slice for a “keyhole.” I used a rounded flat file to cut a small notch in the bottom of the hole. I then connected a 6mm jump hoop to a 4mm jump hoop to make the ring that would serve as the door handle. I pressed into the Balsa slice to make a small indentation where I would super glue the smaller (4mm) jump hoop into place.
This is where I cheated a little bit. I got ahead of myself in the building process and didn’t photograph this part step-by-step so I had to go back to the workbench and re-create a lock plate and door handle in order to show how they were created. I actually painted the original lock plates before gluing the jump hoop to them the first time around. At any rate, this is what they look like finished, before paint. I’d recommend painting the lock plates before you mount the jump hoop rings to the so you don’t get paint all over the rings. I used Apple Barrel (a craft paint available at most hobby and craft stores) Metallic Copper for the lock plates.
The next step I took was to paint the door, the door frame, and the stoop. I wanted a nice, warm, warn brown tone with darker tones in the recesses of the wood. The stoop had to look somewhat like stone. I used for the base coat of the door I used Games Workshop’s Graveyard Dirt and then a coat of Games Workshop Brown ink once the base coat of Graveyard Dirt dried. I had played with this combination previously so the colors came out exactly as I envisioned them.
To get a stone look to the stoop, I painted the entire base with Games Workshop Chaos Black and then dry brushed Apple Barrel Dove Gray over the black. It looks a lot lighter in the pictures than it does in person and the effect looks much better when looking at the actual piece.
You’ll also notice in the picture above that I added a piece of yellow acrylic for the glazing in the window frame. I picked up an 8″ x 10″ sheet at another FLGS that carries various types of styrene and acrylic sheets for modelling. The window “frame” are small strips of balsa wood cut and inserted into the window (painted and inked first!).
And finally, here’s the finished door, complete with painted lock plate and temporarily mounted in a piece of foam core board to check for fit and functionality. In retrospect, one thing I might have done differently is to have painted the door before mounting the door strap hinges to it. They would have come out a bit cleaner as a result. Still, I guess the sloppy paint job around the hinges adds to the grunginess and overall look of wear and tear on the piece when looking at it in person.
I might consider cutting apart a couple of the extra door strap hinges I have and attaching them to this side of the door. It would take some work to cut through that brass, so it’s something I’m still kicking around in my head as to whether or not I want to go through all of the work.
That concludes Part 2 of the scriptorium project tutorial. We didn’t get a chance to get into the window details but next time we’ll take a close look at how I built the working windows and window frames. Stay tuned for more…