We've already got a few "standard" building shapes, which can be mixed-and-matched to create a variety of different buildings. But if we simply repeated our few building designs over and over, we'd end up with a pretty boring looking wild west town! So we've been getting a little bit more adventurous with our designs.
All of our building designs start out like this - a reference photo and lots of overlaid, overlapping parts, drawn to try to give some idea about how they all fit together. Then we produce a "cleaned up" version of the drawing, and send it to the laser cutter:
Given we've had such a miserable "last-bank-holiday-before-Xmas" and the summer seems to have deserted us even before August is out (thanks, Hurricane Bertha) we've spent a bit of time stuck indoors. But it's not all been watching New Tricks and Great British Bake Off. No, we've been busy designing loads of "interesting" looking buildings for our wild west town.
And last night, managed to spend a good few hours at the laser cutter, cranking out kits for our miniature buildings. As yet they're untested, so it's likely that we'll have to amend the final designs. But so far, things aren't looking too bad....
(what's with the half-uploaded files, Google? There are more than just a couple of photos turned out like this in recent weeks)
As well as our standard, 3-inch-wide buildings (tall and short) we found a photo of a tobacconist, squeezed between two larger buildings, so set about creating a super-small building that we could use as a trading post, a telegraph office, tabacconist and so on, by simply changing the top part used to display the signage.
To add a bit of character, we even created a windmill and a water tower for our miniature town.
We've got a jail building on the maker-table too - made entirely from lollipop sticks, to simulate a log cabin (it's hard to create an interesting looking textured surface out of flat, laser-cut planes) so we squeezed some jail bars onto the relatively small windmill section
After cutting out the pieces, we thought that the windmill blades looked far too "chunky" for the model (in truth, the uprights don't look quite right carved out of 3mm mdf, when the design was built for 2mm stock, but it'll do, as a test piece). So we quickly transferred part of the design onto some 0.8mm birch
As we'd run out of "laser-friendly" mdf, we started using some cheap-n-cheerful 3mm mdf from Wickes. Unlike the laser-friendly stuff we got from an online supplier - which has an almost fluffy, untreated surface - the Wickes mdf was really nasty to work with. Both sides are really smooth and shiny, and left a sticky yellow film over everthing - the surface of wood being cut, the cutting bed, the insides of the laser cutter - it got everywhere!
Just before finishing up for the evening, we quickly hacked out a toilet/dunny from a piece of scrap!
With about five "structures" (a few of buildings, a windmill, a water tower and a dunny) bagged up (to keep the different parts separate) we set about cleaning up. The sticky yellow film took quite some removing on its own, so we ended up resorting to some Mr Muscle.
Hopefully this hasn't leaked under the bed. And if it has, let's hope it doesn't do anything drastic like make the belt perish!
After about two and a half hours of lasering almost non-stop, it was time to give the laser cutter a rest and bring our home-made Airfix-a-like model kits home. As each one takes anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour to assemble (including glue drying time) there's probably a full day's work in putting them together. So, softly, softly, over the next few nights, we might actually make some progress....