Friday, May 22, 2020

Scale Model - The Villein's Byre House - Part 6

I wish I had made more progress on this, but the nice weather allowed me to get outside and do some
yard work. Anyway, in the last post, I wrote about making one wall curved and one wall flat. Today, I'll show some progress. It was a lot more intensive than it looks.

Bamboo is not wood.
To make the curved wall, I needed to bend some wood. What they would have done in real life is made a bunch of short posts to create the space. The curve was an illusion of the thatched roof coming down from a point. If I did that, I would need a half dozen posts. I want no more than 4.

The center upright posts are actually made of bamboo chopsticks, so I tried heating up a piece of bamboo and bending it. Bamboo is not wood, so this didn't work out. Even though I made a dozen or so cuts in the piece, it snapped when I bent it but only in the places where I cut.

I tried again with a piece of balsa wood. This too didn't work for a variety of reasons. I got the exact same result. The issue is, balsa is kiln dried and lacks the moisture content needed to bend.

Anyway, what I got will work, since neither piece broke completely through and through. If it did, I would have gone back outside to get a small fresh stick and try again. Which I might anyway, but not for this build.

Bamboo cracks, not bends. 
Dried balsa wood also cracks.
Now, bending wood requires wood, moisture and a temperature of at least 200 degrees F. Wood is a poor conductor, so you might be able to hold it but don't. You will not be able to hold it long enough to work with it. I took a ball jar lid and rammed the wood inside. I left it to dry over night.

The results were not too bad, so I'm going to work with these. While they are cracked, I can cover this up with the roof and walls.

Now let me warn* you about this technique to bend wood. You need wood with moisture content and some way to manipulate the product without touching it. A steamer is helpful, as are heat proof gloves. I would not trust heat proof gloves against a steamer. Don't hold the wood if you use this method. I simply dropped the wood in a boiling pot of water. If this was a larger piece, thick gloves would be necessary in case the wood breaks in your hands.

Here is how the end product looks. Both are usable, but the bamboo feels like it would break if put under any more pressure. I might use the bamboo for another model as it looks cool.


If you are following along at home and want to try your hand, here are some suggested products from Amazon.com which could help you start your own byre house. Purchasing via these Amazon links supports this site with remuneration.

Foam Cutter Sandpaper Tacky Glue Balsa Wood Styrofoam Blocks

*I don't generally do things that would require a warning or caution, but I managed to remove a chunk of skin doing this and might have burn my palms. This is more a commentary on having diabetic neuropathy as opposed to doing something dangerous. I'm not sure how it happened. Neuropathy is a demon because not only can you have numbness, you can have tingling or pain so you are convinced that sensations aren't important or aren't real. I might have burned myself, or scrapped skin off on the counter top or ball jar lid. I'm not sure which. Just be careful.

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