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Scale Modeling Tips & Tools Monthly, Issue #047-- "Working-An-Order"
November 15, 2010
November 15, 2010

Working An Order For Finished Buildings

My venture into scratch building took an exciting change last month with an order for six buildings and with the craftsman style buildings I envisioned, that should take until the end of the year. Wrong! My client wanted a “Christmas Village”, the kind you’d find on a mantle.

Instead of two months, she (actually, my Visiting Nurse) wanted it complete in two weeks. Ms. VN has turned out to be a very good friend to both me and my wife and during one of her visits to change a wound bandage, noticed by miniature structure obsession and rendered to appropriate ooohs and aahs.

Now it has turned into a serious, growing project. It started out with two or three houses and is now up to eight buildings with four of them personalized with family names. Thankfully, she has added a week or two to the deadline. I had primarily been building kit-based structures for display in my bedroom/office and for sale on my website:

Start Here

This Christmas Village project has taken on a life of its own and I have been devoting most of my working hours to scratch building and kit bashing and have four ready to go. There is a lot more to the process than you might expect.

The client furnished me with ideas for subject buildings and I start from there.

Work In Progress
Framing Start shed framing Shed-detail
Laying out framing Shed framing Finished Shed
shed-detail Tavern nears completion burger-stand
N Scale details Tavern nears completion Burger Stand nears completion

More on this project "below the fold".

New N-Scale-Build

Tools I've Come To Rely On

I have come to rely on a few tools I have scrounged from various locations. Some I bought on purpose, but when you get into your 70s, you tend to have more opportunities to come up with precision tools without the accompanying professional’s cost.

For instance, all of my cutting is done with a metal scalpel. I can’t swear it was the one used to cut open, but it has a medical background. I like the fact they are stainless steel. Replacement blades are easily available and individually foil wrapped.

All of my painting is brushwork. Both my wife and I are resistant to the smell of paint spraying and it is not conducive to apartment living. I use acrylics for easy clean-up and buy the economy bottles at Michaels or AC Moore. I tend towards cheap brushes, clean them two or three times and replace them.

I have several pairs of tweezers, but only use one for most of my grabbing. They are real handy when you look down at the keyboard you are using and notice an N Scale wooden window section wedged in beside the “k” key. They are curved with needle-like tips.

Something else I can’t get along without is my seven-drawer craft cart. It is amazing how much stuff you can amass in this business. It all fits in this roll-around or gets thrown out. I also utilize two desk drawers for tools and paint brushes. The piece de resistance is the composed of three elements, a steel sheet, topped with a green cutting board and then an eighth-inch piece of safety glass.

These combine to create a very versatile work surface right on my desk in front of my computer monitor. Why is that important? By working in front of my computer, I can bring up pictures and/or plans for the project I am working on plus there are often tutorials or how to’s for instant reference while I am working.

I can slip plans beneath the glass to build framing right over them. The glass also makes a very cleanable surface after extensive gluing or painting. Both just scrape off with a sharp blade.

With such a small work area (3-feet by 2-feet) clean-up after a work session is vital. It is also relatively important to put tools and materials in their place during a work session. Otherwise finding N-Scale windows, detail parts and small timbers adds unnecessary delay to a project.

Another storage trick fast becoming a habit is keeping my junk i.e. short pieces of stripwood, cut-offs of scribed siding, pieces of styrene and building kit remainders in dedicated Zip Lock bags for ease of storage and easier searching. They also facilitate storage.

Got A Senior Modeler On Your Christmas List?

It's a strain on the brain to think of the perfect gifts for seniors. An expressionless "thanks” reveals that they have no use for the gift that has labored your mind. It's time to think on their level and consider gifts for the elderly that will turn their free time into fun.

Either parent or sibling, spouse or distant relative, you can solve plenty of gifting problems by introducing them to a hobby. This gift can pay a big bonus by desensitizing health issues.

It is important to realize, particularly as we age, that there are natural, non-drug and non-surgical cures for almost every illness and disease.

Here is a 10-point checklist to keep in mind when you are shopping for Seniors:

1.Hobbies are dependable prescriptions for physical health.
2. They challenge dexterity.
3. They teach resourcefulness and patience.
4. They are alleged to increase longevity.
5. They keep mental faculties sharp and lively.
6. Hobbies distract from worry and stress.
7. Hobbies reactivate your social life.
8. They expand your personal knowledge base.
9. Hobbies give you a reason to get up in the morning.
10. They allow you to go slow and do things right.

The more we advance in our "Boomer" years, the simpler this whole process becomes.

You can beat the crowds and save yourself some time by stepping into the Modeler's Mall

One of Ten Murphy Mandates

The amount of time it takes to build a kit is equal to the sum of the time spent in research plus the number of plan pages multiplied by the number of parts less the time it takes for the glue to dry.
a. The more un-built kits you have on shelves, the fewer kits you will actually complete.
b. Your un-built kits will expand inversely proportional to the tightness with which they are packed.
c. Reference materials, magazines and plans will increase in volume inversely proportional to the available space.

Here's The Other Nine

What's A Kluge?

One of the latest article collections is probably little more than a glorified tips page but I have needed a place to quickly jot down ideas that come to me in the middle of modeling.

It is those little tips that sometimes become indispensible.

Thus, the fourth button down on the left will take you to a compilation of ideas that may at first seem nonsensical (Who in their right mind would stick tape to their workbench or glue you intend to use on a flag?)

Scale Modelers everywhere are always looking for good ideas that make jobs simpler and quicker.

We’ve all got them, let’s share them. I’ll be glad to add yours to the Jotters’ Corner just send it to me by email.

Better still, go to the Jotter's Corner page and enter it in your own words. After all, it is your idea and who knows it better?

Cell Phone Camera Tips
Taking Better Scale Model Photos

It almost seems like cell phone cameras are taking over the photography world, but in reality there are simply more people taking pictures and this hasn’t left scale modelers unwilling to give them a try.

The first thing to consider is the ultimate purpose of the scale model’s photo. If it is for sharing via email, posting on the web or simply as a guide for building and coloring your model, a cell phone more than meets the requirement. If the goal is entry into a contest or for magazine publishing, you will do well to consider a full size digital camera.

These tips actually apply to either but are things I need to remember when I start shooting website pictures with my cell phone.

1. Know your cell phone camera. How long does it take for the camera to take and save a picture? You need to be still during that period. Know the normal and macro focusing distances.
2. Your best photographs will be shot outdoors in good light with the sun at your back but wind can be a problem with small scale models. I prefer indoor shots under a sunlight florescent light.
3. In less than ideal lighting, use the camera’s built in flash for fill.
4. When composing your shot avoid reflective surfaces, bright lights and contrasting dark areas which can lead to over exposure.
5. Your lens needs to be clean as focus can be difficult because of the small aperture.
6. Keep the frame filled with your subject to maximize detail.
7. Stillness counts. To keep you camera as still as possible hold it with both hands. Where possible hold the camera tight against your chest or other body part for stability.
8. With digital you can shoot your subject multiple times and from differing angles and under changing light to get your best result.
9. If you can, set the phone camera for its highest resolution for better quality sacrificing disk space.
10. Always edit your photos on your computer as opposed to the phone. The editing software is more sophisticated and the imaged quality is better on your 19” computer screen than on the phone’s three-and-a-half inch screen.

Your Help and Ideas Needed
To Expand SMH Idea Base

Making daily decisions involving for the past 45 months has led to the creation of over 425 pages of articles on the various facets of scale modeling, this monthly e-zine and a host of modeling questions answered.

As we get ready to embark on our third year, I am hoping to open the site up to input from other scale modelers. You may have noticed the Navigation Bar has been sub-divided into the major hobbies covered.

Each of these sections now has one or two pages that invite participation with questions, tips and pictures regarding your various modeling endeavors.

We want to hear from you as do the other 25,000 modelers who log onto this site monthly.

As I get ready to roll into my 71st year, I can’t believe how much I have learned about hobby activities In the past two years. I have heard from other modelers with similar experiences.

To help me develop and maintain my website your comments on its content are essential. You can send me your comments by visiting the “Voice Your Opinion” feature at the top of the Navigation stack in the left column on each page.

It was never my intention to make this website a one way street as my knowledge is no where deep enough for me to be termed an “Authority”. I hunger for your feedback, comments, ideas, tutorials, plans, pictures and even your negative comments if considered constructive.

The Internet and that includes work best when they are interactive and that is collaboration only you can provide. It has been a pleasure serving as your guide for these past two years and by no means am I throwing in the towel, for I honestly believe the building and maintaining of this website are instrumental in keeping my mind active.

I want to open up this site in the fast lane. That is your part of the two-way street.

Its In Your Best Interest

If you have been giving some thought to launching your own home business in 2010, it is worth your time to take a look at what I found:

Steps To Success

Until Next Month

Make It Your Best Effort!

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