One of the major reasons I wanted to blog in the first place is that I wanted to pass along what I am learning to others. I've gained much from others who have done that, and I wanted to pass along what I discover and encourage others to take the plunge into the Miniature world. (Who knew building miniatures could be so rewarding!)
I promised a "series" of posts on the process of building a staircase from scratch, and this is the second of that series. In this entry, you get to see where I started, and some of what I ended up learning in the process of building the staircases I have built.
|Rear view of the Grand Staircase|
|Second Floor Victorian Staircase|
Light bulb moment? I did however, learn a thing or two with this build as well. On the first staircase, and on this one, I used 5/32 inch thick board for the stair treads. I got to looking at the scale, and realized that the proportion between the tread and the rest of the stair was incorrect...and decided to sand each board down to a 3/32 inch thickness, which turns out to be proportionate. But I learned (duh!) that sanding the thickness of a board down to a particular thickness is at best a trial, and at worst, nearly impossible without the proper tools. This staircase has some uneven thicknesses in the treads, which is not terribly noticeable, until you put it up against the 3rd and 4th sets...which I'll share in a moment. I learned by doing something right too though! That birch wood strip that I had to go get to recover from my first light bulb moment came in extremely handy! The "secret" to smooth curves like those on the bottom two steps isn't just great cutting and sanding...yes, that is a part of it...but that wood strip is what finished it off! It bends nicely into a wonderful curve that looks very natural. On all the wood strip I used, I actually used Arlene's Tacky Glue rather than trying to iron the wood on with the glue provided on the wood strip...it is just easier, and the results were great.
The Circular Staircase (s)
|The matching pair of Circular Staircases|
For this set of staircases, I applied some of my lessons learned, and thought it would be much simpler! And in some ways it was...I used 3/32 inch lumber for the treads, and again employed that wonderful wood tape for the graceful curves. But I had a different set of problems! Light bulb moment? I originally set out to cut out each step the same way I had for the first two staircases. But I have already mentioned in an earlier post that this did not work well. I learned that in order to cut small, curved pieces (you cannot run those through the table saw!) you must cut those directly out of the large piece of wood to be able to negotiate the shapes...Otherwise those curves get in the way as you try to move the scroll saw over the lines...the tool is too wide to keep from running into the clamps and the table you have your pieces clamped to...you must keep them away from that table to give yourself room to negotiate the curves!My way of solving that problem was to use the original Foam Core Mock Up (the second of the name! The first was a complete disaster!) as the base for the circular stair. Because of the very small curves in some portions of that pattern, I thought it would be easier. After all, when I am completed with the stair, none of the Foam Core will show, AND it would be supported by the wood that surrounds it. This worked beautifully (so far anyway), as the wood tape and 3/32 inch treatment I gave it completely covers the Foam Core, and will do so for the sides and bottom as well. The only "side effect" of that is that there is a decided "tilt" as you go up the stairs that will have to be corrected by applying the wood casing on the bottom and sides of the stair correctly. However, Foam Core is easily molded...and I felt that the results were beautiful. The stair will be very graceful once that minor consequence is dealt with. I also made another change as I negotiated my way through the process of building these staircases. I had noticed that the finish on both the first and second staircases was very glossy, and in real life is beautiful, but the camera bounces back the light, and so any pictures I took ended up with a fairly significant glare.
I wanted to try a satin gloss finish, and so used that on this set of staircases, and am happy with the result...It is a different, much softer finish, and suits the style of the staircase finish work I plan to create.
I would not recommend one over the other at this point...both finishes gave very nice, but different results. I hope that this trip through my learning process has been valuable for some of you. I imagine for many of you most of the above is somewhat primitive knowledge, but I know that there are many out there too who will learn from my mistakes...it is for you I post this entry! I hope it saves you time and money!