Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Old Wood + Old Soldiers = Old Soldiers Home

I have nothing to hide: Iv'e been playing with plastic Civil War soldiers since I was a kid.

And I think I'm not alone on this one. (note comment below, thanks Duane)

No, I'm not talking high-end pewter miniatures here (different entry for another day) but those roustabout 54mm plastic guys that can come through a kitchen-floor skirmish unscathed; Marx recasts, Imex, Armies in Plastic, Ideal, etc. I've accumulated about 2,000 of these guys over the past 25 years and even have them divided into regiments of 200.

Hey! it's a hobby, I'm entitled.

Anyway, Iv'e been storing the various regiments, batteries, supply trains, etc. in an assortment of bags, shoeboxes, and other nondescript cartons, stashed in closets, garage, and attic space. I'd always thought it would be nice to make some uniform wooden boxes for them all.

Enter the pile of garbage wood left behind my garage by the guy we bought the house from.

This rotting assortment consists of the sawed-off ends of painted planks, fenceposts, interior trim, pressure-treated dimensional lumber...a bug and spider infested truckload waiting to be hauled to the dump.

Two days ago I suddenly viewed that scrap pile as "raw materials"

I started selecting out the best of the worst of the lot, salvaging straight pieces with no nails, little or no rot, and no large cracks or splits. This new (and much smaller) stack then went to the table saw whereupon the "re-sawing" commenced.

Resawing is the process of cutting dimensional lumber to a new, slightly smaller dimension on all planes. This removed the paint, rot, and crud from each board and let me make each piece square and uniform. It's a pretty dirty process, producing large amounts of sawdust thats comprised of rot, bugs, and paint as well as wood. Definately wear a respirator and goggles when resawing.

Here's a before and after:

This would have been alot easier with a planer, but a table saw is what I have.

With this new stockpile of clean wood (which turned out to be oak) I started the design and production of the first of my "army guy boxes" roughly based upon the small ammunition crates of the Civil War.

All joints were glued and pegged.
and the surface was finished with a light Danish oil.

The resawing brought out lots of "character" in the wood, including scars, knots, and here, shotgun pellets.

And now the Iron Brigade has finally found a home.

One down, nine to go

Making the chips fly while waiting for subbing gigs,

Ranger Mannie


Duane said...

Nice work, Mannie! You have quite the talent there. Make's me glad to know I'm not the only one with boxes of lil' plastic guys stored away for passing time in the Winter!


dw said...

Nicely done! Way to put that old pile to good use. Of course, the now homeless spiders probably thought everything was just fine the way it was.