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New 1/12th-Scale House

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Hello all,

First, thank you for your patience, as this project is going to take quite some time, as I intend to electrify it, à la round-wire; not to mention the various permanent fixtures to be incorporated.

The house will be a simple two-story, and constructed of 1/2"(nominal)-thick, cabinet-grade plywood.  I have the first floor drawn out already...


I also have the upper floor drawn up, albeit virtually at present...


I couldn't imagine a bathroom being 15' deep, so I laid out an upper-level porch, or veranda, beyond the bathroom and the short hall.  The bedroom is almost as generous in size as the living room.  The ground floor will rise 10"(10') in height, and the upper floor 9"(9').

In so far as a space-hogging staircase, it will have to exist in the imagination.  I may include a shallow bay window at the front of the dining area within the kitchen.  The house will have a flat roof, yet slightly domed, and there will be fireplaces on both floors, within the living and bed rooms, along with an exterior chimney and cap.

The house will serve primarily as a backdrop for the miniatures I make and offer; but also for my mother to enjoy, in these, her golden years.

Thank you for looking.


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The first floor is cut out...


I don't have a table saw, but I do have an English-made(a bit odd, that) Makita® jigsaw, and their finest model some ten years ago or so when I purchased it...


It works so well that it's almost a crime to own and operate one.  I squared a fine-cut wood blade with the jigsaw's shoe, and whirred away.

The foundation for the ground floor will be installed next, and to be footed.  I have an 8' long 1" x 2" of clear pine for that, but I will need to make provisions for installing a row of mini two-pole on/off rocker switches, and so to turn the circuits on and off as desired.

Scratch that 1x2, as I'll want to make the foundation a bit taller.

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This is going to be fun to watch a mini house build...I'll be patient!  You must have excellent control of that makita; I would have to use an edge guide so I do not wander...

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The weight of the jigsaw itself, combined with a steady hand, makes for an ideal combination when cutting.  The dial-in variable speed helps as well; from 1 to 6 it goes.

I got to looking online: my local Lowe's carries 1x3 poplar in stock; actually 3/4" x 2.5".  I'll be getting that for the foundation, probably tomorrow.  I'll need to define and stabilise the ground floor, and then work my way up.  The foundation is the most important part of a house, in real life, and in miniature.  There can be no skimping where that's concerned. 

I still have a good bit of a nice, thick board of East Indian rosewood, and for the very short feet.  Later, I'll face the poplar on the open side, and the open edges of the walls and floors, with a suitable dark veneer; almost black; the scant open edges of the baseboards and ceiling trim too, even.  I've got it all laid out in my mind, and now to make it a reality.

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Most likely, I'll recreate this castellated top and cap again for the new chimney.  I had "carved" the cap; that is, not by hand so much...


The chimney in that image is stuccoed.

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I went to the Dollar Tree Store Saturday... and purchased one frame, so I could open immediately when I got home to measure.  Yes! It is 1 mm green edged glass... I will have to find a corresponding cutter, I think I have a key set cutter that will work, to do my windows for the glass to set in.  One more barrier has been removed.  I'm going to purchase the other two options to measure the glass, and then will purchase a nice qty for my mini home build.

It is fun to lay these houses out in our heads... I even bought large graph paper to get mine on paper...

Chimneys and brickwork - I need more research on this subject - I'll have to get to my old house forum to find more photos if I can!





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Just one frame?  Well, that's a start.  I was deathly afraid of their selling out of them.

The only water-white glass I've seen that's easily had is that for microscope slides, and those are not large enough for some things.  They could be used for small window-panes, however.

Alas, I took the easy way out on that chimney.  I was thinking about bricking the foundation on the three closed sides; a lot of bricks.  A Preac could come in handy for that, if of painted wood.

Lowe's had a great 10' long poplar 1x3(3/4" x 2.5"); not the usual green and grey specimen; a creamy white throughout instead, sapwood I expect, and half the weight of all the others...


Every little bit helps in making it as lightweight as possible.

A basement window is now planned, and room for rocker-switches and the rest of the electrical system.  My mitre saw has a 90° setting, presumably squared, but I will double-check that when cutting this board, just as did for the jigsaw.  I'll cut a rectangle out of one of the side pieces, then bevel it outwards, for said window.

The screws to assemble the structure...


I did see a box of #8 solid-brass screws, but they were only 1" in length.  I feel that I need that extra 1/4".  Countersinks and ample pilot-holes will be drilled, to prevent unsightly expansion and splitting of the plywood.

I got this not too long ago.  I've only used it once or twice, and its performance is nothing short of magical...


It'll be getting a good bit of use for this project.

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Well, distribution as it is at chains is not expected to be consistent,,, and I had 3 choices... they had a nice inventory.   Rest assured, I'll go back and check out the other two choices and then will buy a nice stash.  I appreciate the tip!

I am conservative when husband is with me; as he rolls his eyes and gives me that "look" when I am adding to the miniature stash.   (I have a serious stash.)  I have wanted to do this particular dream build for more then a decade, and I won't start it until I can do the staircase.  The Cantiliver staircase is my ultimate staircase, so until I can successfully turn those spindles, and figure out how to create the railing, I will not start the build... as I don't want yet another unfinished project. So I have been working diligently on removing my own obstacles... you can see my post about staircases in the forum... I WISH I had not cut my floors for the staircase in my RGT Newport house;   I unfortunately followed the plan of the floor when I assembled the kit and laid the floors on the second level, so I either re-do the floors or put the stairs in, which I do not like... Eventually that house will be finished, but I love the floors that are in there, so now I have to figure out how to compromise with me, they are all design issues with no time constraints, as there are no real mini people complaining about the contractor (me) who doesn't finish the job.












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Mind you, I've not completely ruled out a staircase.  I'll look into that a little further before it's all said and done.

I could make a pretty one, and of mahogany; that sheen, that gleaming finish.  The front door to the house will be of mahogany.  I'm going to make all the fixtures except for the living room's ceiling trim.  You wouldn't believe what I found in Home Depot's wood-trim section, especially since I haven't bought any yet and taken a pic.

The foundation is cut for the ground floor, and ready to assemble...


Even though the floor will be screwed to the poplar foundation, I drilled little wells through the plywood's thin facing all around, as I'd rather that extra measure of attachment.  The wells will be filled with a mixture of fine sawdust and Titebond I(aliphatic-resin, vs. PVC-based) wood glue, then the poplar glued and clamped into place, one piece at a time.  Whilst each section is clamped, I'll insert the screws; not too many.  That's the big plan anyway.

I didn't damage that edge of the plywood at upper right, as it came like that.  But no matter, as it will also be filled with said mixture and covered by the poplar and the walls.

Incidentally, I didn't realise this until last night, and after I had decided to make the foundation taller: I was originally going to attach the bottom edges of the walls only to the edges of the ground floor.  Thank goodness it dawned on me to extend the walls down about 3/4" to 1" and past the ground floor, then to glue and screw the bottom facings to the poplar.  I came quite close to making a permanent error, and a grave one...whew!

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I had to work fast-and-furious when gluing.  The spacing of the screws was not measured out; just one here, and one there...


The sides require clamping in two directions...


The home stretch; clamps at the ready...


A fine mixture of walnut and rosewood sawdust for the depressions...


Glue is mixed with the sawdust(courtesy of the Preac), the depressions wetted with glue, the wood dough distributed, then more glue brushed over the entire run and over the filled wells in addition.  I slightly overfill each depression, as the dough shrinks as it cures.

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Well, that's done.  Now to wait until tomorrow before I take a flush-cut saw(for minor tweaks) and a small electric sander to it...


Overall, the accuracy is off about 1/20th of an inch; not bad, and it should cause no problems.  Now time to draw and cut out the rest... :blink:.

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Ok, we have a base.  Is the "rest" drawn and done?  Oh, I forgot I said I will be patient.  If I'm not doing my build, at least I am going to enjoy following yours!

I have an entire tray of rosewood sawdust, courtesy from my current needlework stand project.  (how many spindles does it take to make 3 micro ACCURATE turnings...I'm not telling, but the saw dust may provide some evidence.)  If I save that sawdust, there is going to be some explaining when Dear Husband catches that I save it in a jar... I wonder where I can store it and he won't catch on that I saved sawdust.  That is a neat idea for wood filler.




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I first saw my father make said wood dough.  I suppose I'm carrying on the "tradition".

One of the side walls is now cut, and cut out; with tallish, narrow windows, and fireplaces for the living and bed rooms.  The fireplace for the bedroom is smaller; petite e'en...


It was somewhat difficult cutting through that nominal-1/2" thick plywood with a short scroll-blade, but not too bad for rough openings.

The wall is about 1/20th of an inch wider than the foundation; drat, but nothing I can't remedy.

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ah... nice square corners for the windows... <sigh> my RGT kit must have used a router bit to cut out the windows.

Oh, and I remembered in reference to the subject of glass, I was considering ordering a huge quantity of glass covers that are used on smart phones.  They are micro thin; I have not figured out how or why that tiny piece of glass stays on my phone, especially since I have dropped it a few times, getting out of my car...so it is another resource of glass options; I just fear I won't be able to cut it with a glass cutter.   And you can purchase them as single panes... my phone has rounded corners, but if I bought the largest size glass that is offered for a smart phone, I can cut the glass to square corners or keep the surface the same -or- allow for rounded edges on the interior of my design.

Just one more day of work, and then I'm back to being a weekend miniaturist.  I'm pretty comfortable using a glass cutter on the dollar tree glass source.  I hope to get back there this weekend - and hopefully back to the lathe to work on the needlework stand.

Update:  This morning I discovered I cracked my protector screen on my cell phone, so I have removed it and measured it with dial calipers.  The thickness is 1/64 of an inch or .016".  Amazing... so it is an excellent resource for a high end piece that needs micro thin glass.  I will be happy with the dollar tree solution for the windows in my house though.  Now that this is broke, I can see if I can cut it with my ordinary glass cutters and some cutting oil... and at least it is only the protector piece of glass on my phone and not my phone.






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Yes, the pre-cut kits come with rounded-rectangular openings, and for pre-made windows.  I'll be making my windows from scratch.  They will not open, and will appear as this, but a bit taller...


They will be semblances only, but nicely trimmed inside and out.  The focus, the details, will be lavished upon the interior instead.  Incidentally, the exterior walls will be roughened, then a thin layer of plaster or spackling compound smeared onto the surface, and then...stucco created over that, and very much like that of those old houses I saw regularly in Midtown Memphis many years ago...


I might face the foundation with faux stone or other, for contrast.

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I'm going to draw out the other side wall next, but I have to figure out where to place a window, and also where the kitchen sink will be, and with the window above it.  The kitchen will be in the back towards the open side, and the small dining area forward of the kitchen and at the front of the house, within that 12' x 15' area; oh, say, an 8'(or 10') x 12' kitchen adjacent to a 7'(or 5') x 12' dining area.

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The other side wall, with a kitchen window on the lower level, and a transom for the bathroom/dressing area...


There will be no upper balcony/veranda as originally planned.  The bathroom will be 8' x 8', and the dressing area at the back opening at 7' x 8', in real life.  You can see where I had drawn out a window for the dining area, at the right on the first floor, but I erased it as I don't want to fumble around in attempting to trim it out in future, as it would have been positioned rather deep towards the front of the house.  I was envisioning having to use a mirror to effect its enhancement; doable, but also passable.  Instead, a window will be placed on the front for the dining area.  It might be a bay window, without a bay floor, but we'll see; or double-windows.

I wish I had drilled holes for the blade on the inside corners for the cut-outs on the first side wall, and like I did for the second...


...much more accurate.  Oh well, this is my first scratch-built endeavour.  Of course, I could do the other side wall all over again, however it's not as bad that would seem to imply.

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As we all know, real-life experiences oft pull us away, and from our hallowed pastimes.  I'm certainly no exception. 

The front wall is but drawn out, yet ready to cut...


In regards to a staircase, it will be dependent upon the measurements forthcoming once I draw and cut out the second floor, suspending the floor with odds and ends to a height of 10".  I've reduced the width of the bedroom by 1/2", to 14.5", and to allow a 3" width for the staircase.  Along the inner bedroom wall on the outside, there must be a door for the bedroom, a landing area for the staircase, and an opening in the floor long enough to keep one from bumping their head as they ascend the staircase.  We'll see...



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Except for the reality of no stairs in the floor plan, and how does one get to the next floor, visual and philosophical question...

It is possible instead to create the illusion of stairs.   In our Home, the stairs to our basement is behind a door in the kitchen; the stairs to the 2nd floor is open.  Most of the time, that door is closed.  The stairs behind the door might be a good option for you.  

For stairs going up to the 2nd floor, you can leave the door open and you see two stairs and a landing... and it suggests there is a full stairwell there; our brains fill in the details just as if we were modeling a movie set.   


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Yes, I understand, but if there's to be even one step, I would rather a full flight.  When my family and I lived in midtown Memphis, my parents bought a Queen Anne-style house, built in 1902.  The ceilings were 11' in height on the ground floor, and there was a narrow staircase in the long hall leading up to the attic which had been partially converted into a bedroom with bath.  We lived there for about 8 years, then left the city.

Courtesy of my old paint programme: the white area within the images is 10" high and 15" wide, and representing the right wall of the living room as one walks into the front door.

A proper straight or half staircase would need a longer opening in the second floor...

"Ouch!  My head!"


Many years ago, I visited a church in downtown Memphis, built by German immigrants; quite beautiful, save the pews which were most uncomfortable.  It was like sitting on a narrow ledge; the pews intended to be so by those who built it.

Behold, meine Deutsche Treppe...


That first step up is a lulu.  In ascending the staircase one would need to do so sideways, and grab the railing with both hands.  I've seen quite a few miniature staircases such as that.

I'm going to work with that a bit further, but so far that's the general idea.  The bottom step of a straight staircase will not be extended flush to the house's rear opening.  I wanted a full 3" in front of the bottom step to the back edge.  I will also look into a half-staircase, like that pictured above, but still with the shallower treads, yet perhaps not as shallow as in the second image; a subtle compromise between illusion and reality instead.

The staircase will be the most intensive of fixtures to make, and to be made first once the house's shell is completed.

In any event, a staircase is doable, and I will cut out the second floor opening for same accordingly.  I might give in to illusion, but only a little further, and provide for but a 2"-wide landing on the second floor, depending.

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Whew!  I think I now have the staircase planned out...


You'll still have to watch your head.  Folks 5' and shorter shouldn't have any problems.  It's not definitive, but I'm getting there if I haven't already.  As noted, the staircases will be 2.5" wide, or 30" wide in real-life.  You know, that thing called "real life".  I'm 5' 9", and I could manage climbing it, I think.  I might have one or two concussions at first...

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3 hours ago, Miniature Studio said:

 Folks 5' and shorter shouldn't have any problems.  

Good design humor!   It looks good, and the paint program provides a good illustration... I like stairs with landings... seems like a good use of space,  as the stairs to 2nd floor in our home has two landings, and I will have to measure the clearance... Even almost -mini- real- me thinks 5' is a little short... perhaps you can increase the landing size, and move two of the bottom stairs up?  The concept of realism always pulls at my head, and probably 95% of the people in the world are taller then 5' when they are grown up, heck there are a lot of children that are taller then 5' that are not adults....just a thought for today...  You loose the floor space on the first floor by increasing the size of the landing.  I always want to add to the floor plan when I'm doing stairs.  Figuratively, the house becomes larger after I build the staircase, so for my first scratch build I am building the stairs first, and the stairs become one of the focal points, or for me the heart of the build.  Even as I tour homes for sale in my local community, I have always been drawn to the stairs... it is difficult to get a bed, dresser and wardrobe up the stairs when they are only 2' wide.... so then I am back to the illusion of stairs vs. the reality of putting real, functioning stairs into the build.

Our stairs to 2nd floor, are two stairs, landing, 8 stairs at 90 degrees, and 3 stairs and landing at 90 degrees... (I hope this make sense, stairs are challenging to me.)

Illusion or reality?  Decisions are so much fun... will you trim them in the same manner as a joiner would do in real life? I was going to route my trim into each stair, instead of applying molding under each stair tread.

I hope I have my terms correct; no caffeine... trying to abstain until noon!


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The goliaths will just have to rough it.  Although, it's not as bad as one might think, as shown below, and a larger mid-landing will have to exist in the imagination...


In any event, the bottom step of the upper flight and the top step of the lower flight, where they meet at said landing, will extend the landing out to almost 3"(36").  That will have to do.  Of course, I could fuss over it to no end, but to what avail.

Stair treads are usually rounded at the edge...bah.  I plan to fancy the edges up a bit; the simple ogee most likely, there in the center...


The Preac can help with that, then to round the main edge with a mini sanding block or file.  That would be the extent of enhancing each step.  Appliques would certainly add some flair, on the sides...


...meh, although something a bit more subtle might be added.  The risers would be sandwiched in between the stringers, then perhaps faced with shimmering mottled-mahogany...or movingui...


...?  I think just the mottled-mahogany.  I wouldn't want to overdo it.

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The front wall is cut out, at last.  I wanted to cut it outside given its size, but it has been raining here lately.  It was barely dry enough to perform the "surgery" outside just a little while ago, but doable.  The front wall is over twice the width of the two side-walls combined...


The octagon for the hall will need to be cut out carefully.  I plan to face the inner edges of same with some light-coloured veneer when building up the window.  The transom, and over where the bathtub will rest, someday, is smaller than the side-wall transom, and that will need to be carefully cut out as well.  I want to get the front wall, one of the side-walls, and the inner ground floor wall installed before I add the second floor and the other side wall.  Also, I can restore that 1/2" that I had shaved off the bedroom's width for a 3"-wide staircase, albeit requiring the repositioning of the octagon, with the planned staircase to be 2.5" wide instead.

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