Monday, January 8, 2018

2017 Year in Review and 2018 Hobby Goals

2017 Year in Review

2017 started out promising in the way of hobby progress. I started to organize my space work space with the addition of some Vallejo paint racks. I made some progress on an Ordos Xenos army, and even completed a Kroot Mercenary which went on to win at the IPMS Nationals. In addition to the IPMS Nationals I attended the Best of the West and Valley Con model shows, taking awards at each. I  didn't get much else done in the way of model building but I wrapped up the year with some major home improvements including the design of a new hobby room. In the middle of all that I managed to pay off all me debt (except for the house), get a promotion at work, complete several home improvement projects, and welcomed a new baby boy!

2018 Goals and Plans

While 2017 was a year of home improvement and life altering changes, I'm looking to find a new normal in 2018. I have a couple of closets in the garage full of model kits, some new, many in various stages of completion. I want to put a dent in my collection this year and I think that regularly attending my local IPMS meetings, and competing at several model shows will help to keep me motivated. There is nothing quite like a looming deadline to light a fire under my butt.

Model Shows

A model show is a great opportunity to set a deadline, display my work, and get some critical feedback on my work. This year I plan on attending at a minimum:

Model Projects

I've got a lot of partially completed projects and I'd like to get a few of those finished this year. There are a few other new models I plan on starting and, as you'll note, I plan on diversifying my skill set this year by including a few autos and other non-warhammer builds.
  • Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper (started)
    • This is a 1979 kit. I started it last year but I'm not happy with the initial paint job. I'll be doing a bit more putty work before restarting the paint on this one.
  • Ready Player One De Lorean (started)
    • I LOVE the novel by Ernest Cline. I have purchased a Back to the Future II De Lorean kit from Aoshima and plan on building it accurate to the novel including a functioning KIT light bar.
  • Skaven Army (started)
    • I started this army last year using the "Start Collecting Box" along with a couple of additional acquisitions. I plan on building a display board for this army. After it has completed the model show circuit I will be sending it to a friend.
  • Duff Beer Wagon (started)
    • My father bought me a Monogram Tom Daniel Beer Wagon kit complete with a custom set of Duff Beer stickers. I'm looking forward to completing this kit, I've already done some extensive customization including a scratch built bed with real wood planks.
  • Star Trek Space Ship Set (started)
    • I picked up this 1976 AMT set of 3 small models at the IPMS nationals. It was partially assembled when I purchased it.
  • Edelweiss
    • This amazing anime tank from Zoukei-Mura Inc. was another gift from my father. I'm excited to see how this extremely detailed kit comes out.
  • Grombrindal
    • I hope to have last year's holiday model completed in time for Modelzona next November.
  • Roboute Guilliman
    • What can I say? This is one hell of a figure. I'm sure he'll be a blast to paint.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Hobby Room Remodel - Part 3

In Part 1 of this 3 part series I discussed the remodel of an unused den space into my new hobby room. In Part 2 I showed you how I assembled a custom closet library from Ikea Billy bookcases. In this part I'll show you my design and process for constructing a custom wraparound hobby desk from various Ikea furnishings.

Using the SketchUp model I discussed in Part 2 I designed the hobby desk of my dreams. In addition to the library, this hobby room would have to display my models, have a work space for building those models, a separate space for my computer, a printer station, and a desk space for the little lady where she could work from home and work on her scrap booking hobby.

I already had two display cabinets from Ikea so I simply arranged those in the model. I placed the Detolf cabinet in the corner nearest the library, and the long one I've had for some time, not sure of the name but it also came from Ikea was centered over the far wall. With the library and display taken care of I could focus on the desk.

Ikea has many options for those who wish to build their own desk. They have a wide selection of table tops, legs, and under desk cabinets/drawers. 

I decided quickly that I would use 3 of the corner desk tops and one rectangular desk top. As far as what I would set those atop I wasn't quite sure.

I noticed that all the legs and cabinet options in the desk building section of the Ikea website were 27 1/2" in height. Since Ikea provides great measurements of all their products I decided to search the website for all furniture with a measurement of 27 1/2". The results I received gave me a much larger variety of options for creating my desks. Searching for items with a measurement of 13 3/4" gave me even more to chose from.

I downloaded and/or built a variety of different Ikea furnishings to test in my SketchUp model. After a few variations, and some input from the little lady, I decided on the below arrangement.

Although not pictured, I would later have to add two additional table legs, one for the back of each corner desk.
The above desk build includes the following items from Ikea:
  • 4x Adils table leg
  • 3x Linnmon Corner table top
  • 1x Linnmon Table top
  • 1x Gerton Table top
  • 2x Alex Drawer unit/drop file storage
  • 1x Eket Cabinet with door 13 3/4" x 13 3/4" x 13 3/4"
  • 3x Eket Cabinet 13 3/4" x 9 7/8" x 13 3/4"
  • 2x Eket Cabinet 13 3/4" x 13 3/4" x 13 3/4"
  • 2x Eket Cabinet with 4 compartments
    • Total Price: $563.97
For the most part the assembly was straight forward following the Ikea instructions. I did make a few modifications. The smaller Eket cabinets were connected with screws from the back to form the configuration above. The Alex drawer units come with 4 rubber pads to place on the top corners to pad the desktop. Since I was also using the Eket cabinets as table support I picked up a few packs of small rubber feet from Home Depot and applied those to the top corners of all the support surfaces.

One major modification was with the Gerton tabletop. I cut this quite expensive table top down to make the two shelves of my printer station. I cut a couple of 1" wide strips from the Gerton tabletop. these were mounted to the side of the Alex drawer unit and topped with a couple of the rubber feet. The shelves were mounted to the Adils table legs with 1 1/4" galvanized pipe straps. These straps were secured to the shelf and the Table legs. In the end I'm quite happy with the look of my printer station but in retrospect I probably could have found a more cost effective solution.

The next major modification was the organization and monitor stand for my computer table. The top of this was made out of laminated shelves from Home Depot with scraps from my library project forming the vertical supports. Each vertical support was also drilled to accept shelf inserts in the future for added organization.

My hobby space is still a work in progress. As I use it I continue to see ways in which it can be improved. Storage is lacking for sure. I'm currently designing a storage system which will elevate the Vallejo paint racks and provide ample storage place in arm's reach. I'm also debating integrating a spray booth into the corner of the desk space. I currently airbrush in the garage but the hot Arizona summers can make long painting sessions in a garage unbearable.

The corner desktop provides ample space for all of my paints as well as my current projects.

The back edge helps to support multiple desk lamps.

My side of the office

My better half's side of the office.

Lots of under desk storage for all out board games.

Completed armies and works in progress are displayed in easy reach.
As with any work space I'm sure I'll make additional modifications over time but at the moment, this is a vast improvement over the previous arrangement and I'm extremely happy with how closely this matches my initial design. Whether it be model building or home improvement prep work pays off.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Hobby Room Remodel - Part 2

In Part 1 of this 3 part series I discussed the remodel of an unused den space into my new hobby room. In this part I'll show you my design and process for constructing a custom bookshelf/display cabinet from Ikea Billy bookcases.

The closet in my new hobby room is rather long an narrow. Approximately 8 feet wide by 2 feet deep. I didn't want the typical long closet doors blocking off it's contents. I find those doors to be a rather dull use of space. I decided that keeping the closet open to the rest of the room and lining it with bookcases would be a much more productive use of the space.

I began the design of my new hobby room in SketchUp. The software is a free CAD program from Google. Sure there is a premium version but for most users the free version is plenty.

The first step was to lay out the dimensions of the room. Once I had the floor plan in place I locked that layer and began placing the furniture. Fortunately much of the Ikea catalog can be found in the SketchUp 3D Warehouse but for those items not available it isn't too difficult to draw your own. The Ikea website provides ample descriptions to many products on their website.

I wanted to entirely line the interior of the closet with bookcases with a display cabinet front and center. The products I chose were:
  • 1x Billy Bookcase with Doors (31.25"W)
  • 2x Billy Bookcase (31 1/4" W)
  • 2x Billy Bookcase (15 3/4" W)
  • 2x Gnedby Shelf Unit (7 7/8" W)
  • Total cost: $463 with promotional free delivery
I centered the bookcase with doors in the closet and followed it on either side with the Gnedby shelf, and the 15 3/4" wide billy bookcase. The other 31 1/4" wide bookcases were placed on the sidewalls of the closet. Now if you're paying attention you'll notice that these measurements don't add up, and you'd be right. I was going to have to narrow the shelves. I chose to narrow the Gnedby shelves to 5 3/4" wide and would have to narrow the 31 1/4" outer shelves to approximately 23" wide. This was the result in SketchUp:

During the first 3 days of November Ikea was offering free delivery and a jumped on the chance. Upon delivery I had to determine an order of operations to my installation and customization. I knew what the measurements should be based on my model in Sketchup but walls are rarely ever perfectly square or even level so I was sure to encounter some variation. I began by building the center bookcase and mounted it to the wall on center. I decided that next I would have to build from the outsides in. 

I started with the right side. I began be remeasuring the nook in which I would be placing the 31 1/4" bookcase. I noted that the width of the space was approximately 23 1/2". Could I modify both of the side shelves in one batch? It would save a great deal of time. I measured the other side. 24" even. I framed the closet so I only have myself to blame. I had to do these one at a time. I set up my table saw and cut all the center pieces of the shelf to length so that the fully assembled bookcase measured 23 1/2" wide. 

My next difficulty was going to be in assembling the bookshelves. As most of us know Ikea furniture comes with easy to assemble hardware which, in this case, means cam locks and wooden dowels. I had, of course, just cut half of the pre-drilled holes off of the shelves when I narrowed the pieces. To re-drill the flush cut holes that the cam locks plug into I used a 15mm forstner bit. I picked mine up on Amazon. I should also note here that to re-drill the cam lock holes on the Gnedby you will need a 1/2" forstner bit.  I got both of mine of Amazon for less than $10 each, you could probably pickup a set of several for that price but I didn't realize I needed two different sizes until I had already received the first one. 

To make sure the holes were drilled properly I set up a jig on my drill press. 

Forstner bits make nice clean flush cut holes. I used the above piece of scrap to test my first attempt.

I used the extra length I had cut off the shelves to align my jig and set the proper depth of my drill bits. 

Make sure you set your depth gauge! The last thing you want is to punch a hole clean through your shelf. I couldn't afford to make any mistakes so all first cuts and holes were made on scrap pieces of wood.

I used the cut off ends as gauges to mark the holes for the dowels and cam lock pins in the sides of the shelves. I did the long shelves with a cordless drill 

Billy shelf fastener mounting hole
The Billy Bookcase shelves don't simply sit atop brackets, they use fasteners which insert into the bookcase walls on the horizontal but into the shelves vertically. The fasteners are somewhat conical in shape and the holes they insert into have two different diameters. I setup a jig on my drill press for these and used a 3/8" bit and a 3/16" bit to recreate the original holes.

Once this was completed I assembled the first of the two bookcases which would line the sides of the closet. I was pleased to find that it went together as if I had just removed it from the box. It was also a perfect fit for the space.

I then ran an extension cord up the back of the wall behind the next set of bookcases. Then I assembled the 15 3/4" wide bookcase and mounted that against the back right wall flush with both the wall and the modified bookcase. I repeated the process on the left and then measured the space left between the center bookcase and the 15 3/4" cases. I was again pleased to find that all my measuring paid off. The space between was 5 3/4" on each side. Now I went about narrowing the Gnedby shelves.

This proved a bit easier as I had already developed a process and could tackle both units at the same time. I returned to the table saw and ripped all the horizontal components down to the appropriate width.

Above I'm cutting all the horizontal pieces of the Gnedby shelves to the proper width.

After all the cuts were made it was off to the drill press to re-drill the holes for all the mounting hardware and dowels. Because the shelves for the Gnedby were so narrow I was able to use my drill press for all of these holes. 

The adjustable shelves of the Gnedby use round pegs in the side walls which set into half cylinder recesses in the shelves. I used a 3/8" bit on my router table to reproduce these notches.

Once that was finished I assembled the Gnedby shelves and mounted them into place. They are more shallow than the Billy bookcases so I mounted them slightly set back from the Billy bookcases for a more pleasing appearance.

Now that the bookcases were in place it was time for a bit of lighting. I purchases a flush mount LED light strip and a grounded lamp cord from Home Depot. I then wired up the light, installed a toggle switch, and mounted it to the back side of the front closet wall.

A 20A 125V toggle switch I salvaged from some appliance many moons ago.

An inexpensive lamp cord can be used to turn in a hardwired lighting fixture into a plugin lamp quite easily.

In the end it all turned out quite a bit better than I expected. In Part 3 of this series I will cover my custom hobby desk also assembled from Ikea furnishings.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Hobby Room Remodel - Part 1

I've been a bit busy lately. Working on getting the house ready for a new baby has left me little time for working on my favorite hobby. In fact for quite a while I had no viable space in which to work. My garage was overrun with furniture and boxes of belongings, my former office was being renovated to become the nursery, and my new hobby room was being renovated into a separate room from a previously open den. I had the carpets replaced in each bedroom and all the tile removed from the common areas to make way for new flooring.

Needless to say I didn't make any hobby progress for the last few months. This marks my first year not entering a model into Modelzona (my local IPMS chapter's yearly model show). With Scorpfest in Tucson only a month away, ValleyCon at the Petersen Automotive Museum in March, Best of the West in May, and the 2018 Nationals being hosted right here in Phoenix Arizona; I have some serious building to get done.

But since I don't have any hobby progress to share I thought I'd share my biggest project of all: the remodeling of my hobby room. Unfortunately I don't have any before pictures but the space was initially an open den. It was clear from the layout that it must have been an optional 4th bedroom when first built so I thought I'd make good use of the space and enclose it.

I framed in the hallway wall, closet, and hung the door. My father is an electrician by trade so he came out to help me install the wiring, reroute some of the previous wiring, and set it all up on a new circuit.

I hung all of the drywall myself and my father showed me how to fill the seams. After all the initial inspections were completed I finished hanging the drywall. I didn't feel comfortable trying to match the texture of the rest of the walls so I hired that part out.

View of the room and hallway wall.
Once the texture, trim, and paint were completed I had my final inspection from the city and got the green light.

My next step was to get the carpets installed and start bringing in the furniture. I decided to design the new hobby space in Google SketchUp. The space would be furnished with furniture from Ikea with a few tweaks. I'll cover my custom bookshelves and display cabinet in Part 2.

Monday, November 13, 2017

IPMS Nationals 2017

This summer my father and I took a long road trip from Las Vegas to Omaha to attend the 2017 IPMS Nationals. Each of us brought many models to enter in competition against the Nation's most seasoned model builders.

The convention took place over 4 days. Each day was filled with various modeling seminars, talks, and tours. We were fortunate to attend some outstanding seminars on how to weather armor with oil paints, an impressive talk on scratch building from a true master, and a how-to clinic from Badger Airbrush on airbrush care and maintenance.

 This beautifully weathered scratch build has already graced the
cover of Fine Scale Modeler magazine.

There where many Games Workshop models entered in the competition.



 My local chapter put together this Star Wars group build.

The below Machinen Krieger diorama was my favorite build of the convention.




Part of the convention was a tour of the Strategic Air Command Museum just outside Omaha. Included in the private tour was a dinner under the belly of an SR-71 Blackbird. What a treat!




 Close up picture of items like this make for great reference when
scratch building details for your projects.


And back to the competition...

 This helicopter was completely scratch built!

This collection of 1/72 scale armor was quite impressive.

and the winners are... okay so I only got pictures of some of the winners, but here they are.

and my models that took an award...

I encourage anyone interested in competing or even just observing to come by the 2018 IPMS Nationals to be held next year by my local chapter in Phoenix, Arizona.