Dolls' Houses Past & Present

A website and ezine about dolls' houses: antique, vintage and modern. Plus furniture and accessories.

Building a Weathered Work Shed by Pepper


The first time I saw Danny Shotton's miniatures I decided I would build a work shed so that I could display all of the pieces that I collected.

This is my collection so far:


No, you are not seeing double. I have managed to go to fairs and buy items again, that I was sure I didn't have =0/  This will end up being the best stocked shed any person has ever owned...

I found a couple of sheets of American Lime in my wood pile which is perfect for a 12th scale version of 2 x 4 inch timber, then Googled a few shed plans to work from. I could have made this project much simpler; constructed an MDF room box and routed the surface to make it look like individual pieces of wood, but I want to try and make it as realistic as possible. The first stage was to make a frame:



Yes, that is my kitchen. Yes, this is where I make miniatures 95% of the time and yes, my tools are stuffed into cupboards that used to house the pots and pans.

The frame has a window aperture on the right hand wall and I will be hanging double doors in the front. I think this should give me enough natural light for the room. The size is equivalent to a 10 x 14 foot shed in real life. There's a lot to do before I can start making anything to put inside but that doesn't stop me looking at workbench plans and the like. I'm just too impatient for this hobby =0P

Next I built the frame of the floor and covered it with plywood, then glued all of the walls into place.

If you're planning to make any structure like this, it pays to make 'spacers'. These spacers sit in between the frame whilst it is gluing to ensure even distribution.

I wanted this shed to look weathered but not decrepit. You've probably seen this technique a bunch of times but if not, you take a bottle of white vinegar (I used Sarson's white malt vinegar, stick it in a jar with a wad of steel wool


and leave it overnight. When you paint the solution onto wood, the reaction causes it to grey like wood that has been rained on for many years.


I experimented with different strengths and found that 1/4 solution to 3/4  cold water made the plywood a nice silvery grey. Stronger solutions made the plywood a darker, dirtier brown colour. I painted one coat on all of the plywood sheet I had with the vinegar solution and when it was dry, I cut it into strips to mimic wood planks. The wood strips are glued overlapping, to give it more detail.  


To make sure it was level, I measured either side of the plank, to the top of the frame.



At this point, it still needs some trim to pretty up the corners where the planks meet but overall, I like the way it turned out. When everything is glued into place I will add water damage marks/moss with paint and pastels. Here, it still needs some 'nails' in it too, to make it look more realistic.



The roof trusses are simple 'A' frames. The distances between the trusses are the same as the shed frame:


The roof is removable so that I have more room to work on the shed contents:


Here I still have to continue the overlapping slats up into the roof, add windows and their beading, make some strap hinges for the doors before I can get to my favourite part of making the tool bench and accessories for inside =0D. Oh yes, and landscaping a base for the shed...


You can see in the picture above, the plywood I used on the roof turned an icky dark colour. I intended to use some cheap sandpaper, painted, to mimic the asphalt sheet you see on life-size sheds. However, Dominique from Les Mains Calmes made an excellent suggestion of emery paper rather than sandpaper for the roof, which I think worked much better. I cut the 60 grit emery paper into 3.1/2" strips to mimic metre rolls of roofing asphalt. 


Monotonously repetitive jobs are a killer but sometimes you just have to suck it up and get on with it. I spent three weeks finishing the slats (or, as I've been informed by one of the joiners at work, ship-lap). I cut down about 150 model railway track pins to use as nails and I have the windows and window beading in.  


The sun had just broken through the clouds so I ran outside to take a few 'work-in-progress' shots.

The doors are in place after a few experiments with hinges. They're basic brass strap hinges from Romney Miniatures that I bought a while back. In keeping with the state of the shed, I needed to make them look weathered. There are a lot of different techniques to do this. The technique I used is a simple one.

I scuffed the surface of the brass with emery paper and then sprayed it with Tamiya white surface primer (for metal and plastic).



I scraped some real rust off some old tools that I have in my life-size shed (did I mention that I hoard anything that I think I may use in miniatures?) =0P


I applied white wood glue here and there on the hinges and covered the glue with the rust dust. Once the glue had dried, I shook the excess dust from the hinges and then gave the whole thing a few coats of Dullcoat Varnish


While I was outside taking snap shots, I had a visitor....  

Yes, one of fellow blogger, artist and miniaturist Catherine's gorgeous geese, which I've named Gideon =0) Catherine generously gifted Gideon to me. THANK YOU Catherine!



I think he likes his new home ha-ha. Man, I'll be scraping goose poo off that floor for the next week ;0D

I made a simple padbolt for the shed doors by soldering brass:

I'm just about ready to start making some items for the inside of my shed. I'm hoping to get Danny Shotton's tools in there before the next millennium. I'm stuck with the door latch ... don't know what to make or what will look right for an old shed like this.



That's my messy, real garden in the background... 

I've really enjoyed doing the landscaping for this. It's getting there. The weathering never seems to be finished. It's hard to put down your paintbrush and say 'Okay, I think that is enough'.



A little progress on the inside of the shed. It now has a tower bolt to keep the door shut, the beginnings of a workbench and I made something simple to go inside.




Since getting a drill press/milling machine, cutting holes in metal is so much easier. The tower bolt is just brass rod. I drilled a hole, lathed another piece of brass to make the teeny handle and soldered them together. The work bench is spare pieces from the roof frame. I'm thinking the owner of this shed is thrifty. As a rule of thumb, workbench surfaces are around 33" - 35" from the ground. This equates to 69mm - 74mm in 12th scale. I've made mine at 70mm. I cut all of the legs at 68mm height, then added 2mm Boxwood for the top. The surface of the workbench overhangs the legs on one side. This is so it can house a joiners vice...when I finish it.  

The idea for the thing I made, came after I had a delivery of white spirit. I liked the look of the 5lt  tins it comes in. I took some 6mm MDF and cut it into a 15mm strip. Then I cut the strip at 25mm intervals. The MDF is a base to wrap aluminium around. I guess you could use anything for this but a hard material allows the aluminium to bend cleanly. I was struggling to find aluminium thin enough to do this in scale until inspiration hit.  


Yeah, a Bacofoil cooking tray. The aluminium is thin enough to work on by hand but still keeps it's shape. You glue a piece on the top...



When the glue sets, you wrap aluminium around the sides. One of the edges of aluminium is bent over to give that machine pressed appearance.  


The handle is another strip of aluminium and the lid is a slice of 3mm aluminium rod. You could paint it, put a label on there, weather it with some rust... 


Next on my list will be some paint tins and old jars. Should be fun =0)

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