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Hints and Tips – Miscellaneous

Reprinted from “The Miniaturist’s Workbench – A series of Nutshell News Reprints” by Jim Newman, 1982.

  • Save your old cardboard gift wrap tubes to make this sensible storage rack for your strips of wood moulding. The unit can lay on a shelf so that your stock is stored horizontally, well protected from damage and warping. Add a round circle of cardboard taped to one end to prevent strips from sliding right through the tube, and leave the tubes loose in their box. Then even small pieces can be stored with like mouldings and tipped out when needed.

  • If you live in an apartment or small home where you do not have room for a little workshop, then sanding pieces of furniture, etc. can be a problem with the dust created. An excellent idea is to place the work piece and the sandpaper block inside a thin plastic bag – an old dry cleaning bag works very well. The bag prevents the dust from travelling.

  • Save your burnt wooden matches (or buy some to burn on purpose). Cut off the tips after they are well burnt, and you will have some very convincing miniature charcoal briquets for your barbecue.

  • A very convincing cement can be made by adding sand to light weight spackle to give texture. Spread the mix where required, then press the edge of a popsicle stick into it to give the effect of blocks or slabs. When the cement has dried, paint it with a light grey matte paint.

  • An effective two-way hinge for miniature saloon doors (or any door that should open both ways) can be made by sandwiching a strip of fabric between two pieces of wood. While the glue sets, lightly clamp the assembly with clothes pins or paper grippers. Be sure to leave the 1/32” gap shown or the hinge will not work.

  • The roll-on ball from a deodorant bottle makes an excellent ceiling light. The material is semi-soft, can be easily drilled, and glows softly when a light bulb s inserted into a drilled hole. The addition of a domed shade makes it even more convincing.

  • When you wash out sable or other expensive brushes after using them for watercolour or acrylic, place a drop or two of Woolite on the brushes to get them really clean and leave them in excellent condition, then rinse them in clear water. When you clean brushes that have been used for oil-based paints and have been cleaned in solvent, rinse them in a little water that’s had some cream rinse added to it, then rinse them in clear water. This will help recondition the brushes that the solvent would dry out too quickly. If these hints are followed, brushes will last a lot longer and keep their shape.

  • Make turned chair and table legs without using a miniature lathe using an electric drill, assorted round and triangular files and sandpaper strips. Set a dowel in the drill chuck, making sure the drill handle is on your left to achieve correct rotation. Use a hand drill if someone will turn it for you. It is best if a horizontal drill stand, like those made for Black and Decker drills, is used to securely mount the drill. Invest in safety glasses too!

  • To achieve a swirl effect on walls or ceilings, spread spackle, then use a toothbrush to make swirls or other patterns. The brush cleans up rapidly, so you should scrape it clean frequently for the best results.

  • Leaving paint brushes in cleaning fluid and resting on their bristles causes them to bend and spread, making them useless for accurate painting. Preserve the shape of the brush by suspending it in the fluid. Cut a narrow V-shaped slot in a card disk larger than the mouth of the bottle of cleaning fluid. Press the handle of the brush in the V notch to suspend the bristles in the cleaner between painting jobs.

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