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LarryMartin
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I am an amateur woodworker, furniture maker, 15 years experience since retiring, 77 years old, living about 40 miles northwest of Chicago. I’m looking to downsize from full size furniture to miniatures during the winter months when we are snowbirds. I’m planning to make miniatures of all of the furniture I’ve made over the years for my daughters and friends.

 

I like the proportions of 1:12 except for the resulting thinness of pieces that make the miniatures look like they come from Hobby Lobby or other mass craft stores. I’m planning on at least doubling the thickness of sides and tops. 

 

1)Is that a grievous sin? 

 

I’m also going to use butt joints and relying on glue for the joinery, or 

 

2) should I be making actual mortise and tenon or dovetail joinery?

 

I do not yet have a snowbird workshop but will be bringing my hand tools and accessories with me. I plan to acquire some machinery when in Florida. Almost for sure I will be getting Craig’s List used machinery to use with various sleds and jigs for safely cutting small parts — or 

 

3) should I resolve to use only small scale equipment like Proxxon? 

 

4) What are the other brand names for good craft machinery? 

 

5) What are the names of the better suppliers of craft machinery and craft supplies like miniature hinges and hardware?

 

6) What other questions should I be considering?

 

Thanks very much for your help.

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Hi, Larry, Welcome, I build miniature structures not furniture, but I would recommend a Hegner scroll saw(have used one for years).The best quality and variety of sizes. Check them out at Advanced Machinery web site. Also use a Jarmac micro tablesaw for tiny stuff. Recently bought a Byrnes tablesaw (uses both 3 and 4 inch blades) and a Byrnes Disc sander. I think these would be very good for miniature furniture making.. Visit the Byrnes Model Machinery website and you can see all of their accessories.They have a good selection of saw blades with small kerf. Also Byrnes has a U-tube video that shows their table saw . It came ready to use right out of the box. I am very pleased with the quality and accuracy .The miniature model boat builders use them a lot. Have fun making sawdust! Gail

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Welcome Larry, we are glad you here.

Here are some quick answers to your questions, you know you can open a new topic on any of these and it will get more of a discussion going.

1, as I say the eye is the finial judge so you certainly can adjust the measurements to make a piece look right.

2, I think so, it is fun and challenging, great bragging point and most important your pieces will stay together much longer. Butt joints have so little glue surface in miniature that they will eventually fall apart.

3, use what ever is best for the job at hand, sometimes I'll make a delicate cut on my 12" table saw, sometimes one of the tiny ones.

4, read the various reviews folks have written, generally the rule of you get what you pay for applies.

5, I am really not that familiar with what hardware is out there because I make my own. I do know what is out there is very limited and making your own is only limited by what you are willing to do.

6, any others you may have, remember the only stupid questions are those that are NOT asked.

Most important is have fun!

Again welcome!

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Thanks for the guidance, Gail and Wm. I know I have a lot of learning to do --- and I'm anxious to get to a lot of practicing to get things just right. Right now I'm in the beginning stages of building my first full-size serpentine chest out of jatoba for one of my daughters to give her an heirloom for her 50th birthday. I'm actually looking forward to the winter when I will begin a miniatures adventure.

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Hi Larry, welcome to the forum.  Since you indicate you are in Deer Park, IL, please do come to the Chicago International Show in April 2016...

 

www.bishopshows.com

 

and you can see some of the finest miniatures available, very, very close to your home.  The Spring International show is probably the world's largest miniature show, and probably the largest miniature show in the States.

 

You must have visited the Thorne Rooms at the Chicago Art Institute... ?  it always feels like a homecoming event, each time I go back to visit the Thorne Rooms.

 

I find proper joinery worth the effort.  The items you are making are, as you indicated, 1/12th the size, it is just less frustrating to use proper joinery to enable you a more successful assembly experience.  It is very intolerable experience to get a chair to stay together without proper joinery. 

 

It would be an interesting poll...do more men then women use full-size equipment for structure and furniture building?

 

While I use a standard band saw, miter saw and a jet mini lathe, I find the table saws for scale modeling to be less imtimidating then my husband's delta unisaw.  My husband has only been employed as cabinetmaker all of our lives.  I just asked him... if you were making me a pie crust table in miniature, would you have any reason to get my preac table saw out to cut the table top?  and his reply is no, he would use his delta unisaw.  I use the small one because it does not require any space, and I'm infinitely more comfortable with it. 

 

I have found that for purposes of precision, though that different machinery has different tolerances, and that is when we find it necessary to move to smaller equipment.... We have ongoing discussions in the forum topics... for specific kinds of machinery.

 

If you come to a Guild Study Program or Guild School, it is a wonderful opportunity to try out and use different kinds of machinery, and using the equipment at GS, is the reason I have acquired a Taig Lathe this year and the preac table saw a long time ago... the preac is no longer sold; but you may find equipment on eBay & craigs list. 

 

Where do you snowbirds roost for the winter?  If FL, you can visit the Barry & Carole Kaye collection at the Naples Museum of Art, and if in Arizona, you can see miniatures at the Tuscon Museum of Miniatures.

 

Seeing artist works of art may allow you the opportunity to view miniatures from a different perspective and may help you decide if you made miniature table tops thicker, if you will find it to be visually in scale.  Some of these decisions are mathematics, and some decisions are made from an artistic perspective.

 

I always enjoy visiting with Pete & Pam Boorum for equipment  (Taig & Sherline) and really cool and very useful jigs - and I just participated in one of their classes that I also enjoyed.  You have to buy the tweezers from Pete & Pam that help with setting those fussy, fussy, little tiny brads for hinges.

 

And speaking of hardware - I really enjoy selecting hardware from Ron Stetkewicz in Cairo NY.  If you google

Ron Stetkewicz Miniatures, you should be able to find him online... he is a second generation miniaturist.  Heidi Ott (Germany)  brings a decent caster to the Chicago International show, and there are others - I've purchased hinges from Geoff Wonacott, and there are other hardware offerings that are handmade... vs. made in mass production overseas.  The more expensive the price; then perhaps you will want to inquire if it is mass produced or not...)  most likely my furniture casters from Heidi Ott are mass produced, but they are in my opinion nicer then the casters that I have purchased from houseworks.

 

It is nice that you have introduced yourself.  Please do keep us posted when you start that miniature project!

 

Tamra

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We will be in Venice FL come winter and will certainly drive on down to Naples to see the Barry and Kaye Collection. Thanks for the tip. Most likely, however, we will not be back in Chicago in time for the April Miniatures Show.

 

Budget constraints will slow my acquisition of tools so I will start out using full size woodworking machines and tools, and try to develop helpful jigs to make the process safer and more accurate. I'm already outlining the wood materials I'll need and hope to mill a lot of that wood prior to leaving for Florida.

 

Thanks so much for your suggestions.

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What?  Miniatures are not on display?  Ok will mark Naples Museum of Art off my list....Well, at least there was a book!   So sad to have a beautiful collection of fine art not on display for the rest of the world to visit.

 

The Carole & Barry Kaye Museum of Miniatures (1994)...Amazon.com $6 used.

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Larry, if you are driving to FL, I would suggest a stop in Maysville, Ky.  The Kathleen Savage Browning Miniature Collections is quite inspiring.  It is impossible for me to choose a favorite piece in this incredible collection.   

 

www.kygmc.org

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  • 3 weeks later...

Welcome Larry!

 

As the others have pointed out, there are times when small-scale tools are the best solution (especially if you value your fingers).  If you look through the Forum, especially in the Tools and Supplies section, you will find various posts where people have offered their opinions about different (power) tool makers.

 

The two (miniature) power tools I can't live without are the table saw and the thickness sander (in that order).  There are a lot of times that a full-sized saw would just splinter my mini-piece to smithereens.  Just like in full-sized tools, the saw is only as good as the fence (or sled or whatever fixture you are using to provide a fence-type function).   And the thickness sander does the miniature equivalent of a planer - because it can be difficult to get wood in just exactly the thickness you might need.

 

You are fortunate in that you don't already have a stable of small scale tools.  I know that sounds weird, but once you already have a tool - even if it's less than excellent - it can be difficult to convince yourself to replace it.   You might check out Byrnes Model Machines online - his tools, especially his thickness sander, are superb.  

 

Bill is correct that you tend to get what you pay for.  I wish I had started out with better tools the first time I bought, because I ended up there anyway.

 

   Chris

 

 

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