Saturday 19 November 2011

2. House of Miniatures - staining and sealing

OK, day two!

My first big problem was that the House of Miniatures Finishing Kit box didn't contain any instructions.  Another issue which concerns me is that it is probably something like twenty to thirty years old and that might mean the various chemicals are way beyond their usable time.  Hey ho, I bought it I'm going to try it.  

I found something like the instructions on line almost accidentally.  I was looking at some instructions for another kit which someone had copied and posted and within those was a section called Final Finishing which seemed to cover what I needed. I copied it with my computer snipping tool (if you don't know what this is - ask me - just brilliant - it means you can copy anything from any page you are looking at, even ones which don't allow any other sort of copying) and I printed it and Bob's your uncle, I was off.

First complaint - the print is teeny even after enlarging and the instructions verbose - for me to say that you know it must be bad.

It begins with three more sessions of sanding - none of which I did.  It then suggests you go over all the end grains with a thin coat of sealer to prevent them sucking up stain and being darker than the rest.  I did a quick inspection of my piece and decided I could live with the areas which would be darker - so that was another thing skipped, especially as you would have to be very dexterous to avoid any overlap onto the other areas.

Finally (many paragraphs later) we get to where I want to be - applying the base stain. This was easier than I thought.  I did it with a paint brush and wiped off the excess as I went along.  In this photo you can see that the stain won't cover any glue (as warned) but I absolutely stick by my decision not to bother with the fuss and expense of tinting glue.  It might be worth it if you can buy it ready done(?).  Just be really careful when  you are gluing the pieces together; use the absolute minimum amount of glue and choose something which has less tendency to run or squeeze out. I put on the tiniest bit of tacky glue on both pieces, smoothed it out with my finger so there wasn't any excess sitting on the surface, waited for it to go tacky and then pressed the two pieces together.  I deliberately wasn't as careful with the drawers as I wanted to see what would happen if I did it more quickly.

This isn't the most flattering photo of the piece so far but I wanted to show you that if you are careful with the glue there really isn't a problem.  The wood itself takes colour in different amounts so you get light areas any way.  I don't see any glue patches in or around the joins or any glaringly dark end pieces of wood.  It all seems pretty even to me.  

When the base stain is dry you have to go over the piece with wood sealer.  This was done in a similar way - applying a thin coat with a brush.  I thought this might be the slightly glossy finish I am looking for but as it dries it seems to disappear, so it is obviously performing another function.  This photo is to show you a handy tip for gluing or painting small bits and bobs which you'd like to twist and turn and do the edges etc.  A blob of Blu-tack, a golf tee and some styrene solves the problem beautifully.  I'm actually using plasticine here but maybe not a good idea as I can see colour from it on my gloves - I may have drawer fronts with a strange yellow tint on the back, we'll see.  I can't remember what Blu-tack's called in the USA but I'm sure you know the sort of reusable 'putty' I mean. The 25 golf tees cost me 50 cents from a dollar shop (and it came with a bunch of golf 'tools').  The styrene discs were two for a buck from the flower arranging section of the same shop but any scrap packaging styrene will do as long as it is nice and steady.

Finally, the worst instruction ever to someone like me - allow to dry for at least six hours.  So here it sits on the kitchen table until tomorrow.  I might even do some sanding then.....

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