Keeping in touch December 5, 2020

December 5, 2020

Today’s post features a complex project accomplished by Jay Finkbeiner. It involves creative problem solving, use of resins, turning, and making a daughter delighted.


For her sixth birthday, our daughter Fiona received another floor for her Playmobil house. Unfortunately, they have discontinued the spiral staircases. The people could not get to the top floor. Initially, I had designed a ladder for that final floor, but my daughter decided that we should go for Universal Design, and put in an elevator that everyone can use. Her words, not mine. I think we’re raising her correctly.

Here, viewing the back/inside the house, you can see that it was a 3-piece project. The cap and base were turned from the same piece of birch,finished with Zia Teal Unicorn Spit and Liberon Wax, and the glass was made by creating a mold made out of two separate size bottles, filled with resin and Dollar Store sparkles. Because of imperfections and mistakes involving CA glue, the resin was finished with another coat of resin. It repaired all my errors, beautifully.

The winch was another story. This is what I cobbled together. I’d like to improve upon it, some day, and this is not the final design. It was too free spinning. The final design broke my rules to not use any metal. Two tiny taper head screws created a cleat for a nylon cable to tie to, after wrapping around the spindle, between the handwheel and the structure. Few wraps of the cable around the spindle, with the right amount of tension on the cleat design, and it cranks freely, but has enough resistance so that it doesn’t plummet to the ground, terrifying the rider.

One final addition, not shown here, was a cable guide, because it was tending to get caught where it was not supposed to be.

A magnet on the roof of the elevator is what holds the light in place. As you can see, we decorated the whole house with these little tea lights, held on to the plastic everywhere else by velcro. I was glad to be able to use a magnet for the one inside the lift.

Fiona is quite satisfied by the variety of light colours we are able to get with these. A whole lot more versatile, interesting and cost-effective than the OEM version. I know what it was like to be a kid, always wanting everything factory-made. I now appreciate handmade much more, obviously, and I’m glad that she understands the value of uniqueness, as well.

It is a pretty fun house at this time of year, the sun setting so much earlier making artificial light that much more fun in the evening. You can almost feel the warmth from that roaring fireplace by the entrance, before a lift upstairs to the bedroom.

If I did it again, it would involve starting with a blank, instead of making three separate parts and combining them. I wasn’t certain about the hollowing, or cost of resin. But, either way, the roof would’ve been an afterthought, and my many mistakes on the journey to this, taught me a lot.
Jay.

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