Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My First Project

This was the first room box I ever created from scratch. My wife was a fourth grade teacher at the time, and my parents had given her a McGuffey's Eclectic Fourth Reader.

I decided to build a shadow box that held the reader in the top half of the box and created this old fashioned classroom for the lower half of the box.

At the grade school where I attended so many years ago, the walls were all painted with an industrial green paint, similar to what's here. And, yes, I sat in desks fastened in rows to 1 x 4 boards, just like these are in this tiny classroom. We even used the Big Chief tablets for writing in when I was a kid - just like this one I found at a miniature store.

Other than the tablet and the books on the desk, I made everything in the room as well as the cabinet that this is in. If you study the chair in detail, you'll notice that the three spindles in the middle are a bit mismatched. I didn't do that on purpose. It just happened.

I made all of the spindles for the chair using toothpicks for the wood. I "turned" the wood with needle files. Since I didn't have a lathe at that time, I would hold a needle file against the toothpick using my thumb to apply pressure and turned the toothpick around and around with my other hand until I got the approximate "turning" that I wanted. I used the triangular shaped needle files to create sharp lines and the round needle file or the half-round needle file to create more rounded grooves. Depending on where I placed the needle file helped determine how wide the gouge would be. I would then finish the turning with pieces of fine grit sandpaper.

The pencils in the pencil cup were two more toothpicks that I made ever so tiny using the same turning method and an emery board. The apple on the teacher's desk was a wooden bead.

If you look really closely, you'll notice another error I made in building the room. I didn't realize that the wood of my wainscoting would shrink over time. (I made this nearly 30 years ago.) Since it did shrink, there are gaps exposed between the pieces of wood I used for the wainscoting. I wish I had taken a dark felt pen and had colored the wall with a stripe about 1/8" wide behind the area where the wood came together. The shrinkage would have been far less visible as a result.

The truth is, I think most of our best learning occurs from our mistakes, and I made some with this project.


Anonymous said...

Truly fascinating.
As far as shrinkage with the wainscoting - that has happened in our (life size)kitchen! Whoever put it in didn't account for shinkage, I suppose, and there we have it!

Silvia Wilson said...

You're a true artist. I could never hope to do the same, not with wood anyway. Your wife is very lucky

George the Miniguy said...

Thank you, Silvia. I'm glad you enjoyed the picture.

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