Sunday, 31 May 2015

Sofa tutorial Mk2 (all scales) - building the frame

I've been asked a number of times to explain how I make a scaled down sofa. So for anyone interested, here it is. In essence, this tutorial is exactly the same as the original 12th scale tutorial here and here
but in order to explain how I get the sizes, I'll start from the very beginning.

The simplest way to make any piece of furniture in miniature is to measure the actual life-size item. In the picture below, I've marked the measurments I've taken from my own sofa.

This is not my actual sofa. My actual sofa is plum leather and covered in cats, but it is a similar shape

A - the length from the back of the arm to the front (make sure you measure at the bottom of the arm)
B - the length from the back of the arm to the front (this time measure at the top of the arm because this will give you the angle at which the back leans)
C - the height of the arm
D - the height from the top to the bottom of the sofa (without the feet)
E - the height of the feet
F - the width of the seat

I take the measurments from the real-life item and use a scale model calculator to scale them down. You can find scale model calculators all over the net but here are a few I've used.
Small stuff's print mini

For this tutorial, I am making a 1/6th scale replica but I could chose any scale. Once I have the full-size measurments, I can alter the output scale on the calculator to whatever size I want to make.

I then draw out a sketch with the scaled down measurements so that I know how much material I need and work out the cutting plan. There are four pieces to this sofa, (2x arms, seat and back) and for 6th scale, they fit onto a 300 x 320mm piece of wood.

For this tutorial I'm using 18mm MDF because the arm of the sofa, (scaled down), is close to 20mm wide. I don't always copy the real-life model exactly, but I need to be aware that using thinner/thicker material could make the model look out of scale.

I start with the arms and cut a 90 x 300mm strip from the piece of wood.

I measure 150mm from the left edge at the top, 135mm from the left edge at the bottom, draw a line inbetween and rotate the chopsaw table until the blade is parallel with the line.
I then put the cut piece on top of the wood that remains and line up the straight edges so they are flush

With the chopsaw still at an angle, I use the wood on top to guide the blade for the second cut.

What I'm left with is two identical pieces 135 x 150 x 90mm

The next piece I cut is the back at 300 x 120mm

The back lines up with the angled edge of the arms. I don't glue anything at this point
Next, the seat at 300 x ?mm

At this point you will notice that the seat is longer than it needs to be (not as long as in the picture - I cut more wood than I needed in case I made a mistake). The reason for this is so that I can cut it completely flush with the arms. I push the seat in between the arms until it touches the back and mark a line across (shown in the photograph above), and cut it.

Because the back reclines at an angle, there will be a small gap between the back and seat. This will be hidden under a cushion and all the upholstery. Once I'm happy that everything fits, I glue it together.

This is how it should look
At this point, I need to think about the feet and how I can attach them to the sofa. One of the reasons I use wood and one of the reasons I urge anyone building miniatures to use wood is that it is by far the easiest material to attach other materials to. Because the sofa will be covered with fabric, It's very hard to glue the feet in place and get them to stay there. I need something for the feet to hold onto so I use a toothpick as a dowel running through the foot and sofa frame to give it extra strength.  

I drill a hole (the size of a bamboo toothpick), at each corner of the sofa. I will drill a hole the same size in whatever I choose for the feet. AFTER the sofa has been upholstered, I glue the toothpicks in place, and then glue the feet on the toothpick.

Next - Upholstering the sofa



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