Monday, January 13, 2014

+3 Craftsmanship: The under-stairs shelf

This project was a not a necessity. I mean who, in this day and age, builds their own furniture (unless it is your profession or you are crazy about wood). That said if one cannot enjoy the smell of new freshly lacquered wooden furniture in their house then one is missing a whole sensual dimension when it comes to appreciating interior design. Yet the under-stairs shelving unit in question was built from your run-of-the-mill MDF wood available at your local B&Q.

The Finished Unit
Medium-Density Fibre Wood (MDF) is a type of processed wood that it very popular in Europe. In fact, most cheap IKEA furniture is made of MDF wood with a laminated finish layer to present said furniture in a better light.

Our living room had this indent wasted space under the stairs which I found to be a very irritating non-functional space. It was not small enough to be ignored or big enough to be functional. Additionally, nobody I could find sold under-stairs units. To be honest, each under stairs space is too different from each other to warrant anything but bespoke builds. The rampant nerdism in this house and lack of bookshelves made the design of the unit I was going to build quite straightforward. I needed a shelf for all the travel scrapbooks, novels, comic books,art books, Gundam, board games, figurines and Dumbledore’s wand.

Previously to this project, I had never done any wood working so when this opportunity showed itself I just had to know if I could do this. In hindsight, MDF wood was a good choice because of it was relatively cheap costs (not to mention disappointingly only available wood type at B&Q) and also I would not be wasting some nice wood if the project was a failure.

Since we were building this, we wanted it to feel like something we put together and yet went with the whole living room space, which currently is still a horrible and ghastly boring shade of beige (that is what you get when you are renting a property).

Lauren’s dimension doodle was failure, so I set out to draw the unit on AutoCAD mostly to bring a general idea on how much wood we would need. Additionally we got wood glue because we thought that the shelves within the unit would split if we tried to drive screws or nails through it. For our personal touch we decided to airbrush some pop-culture references very dear to our hearts onto the back board of the unit. To our dismay but not surprise, wood and bits and bobs still left us £65 poorer even though we had to build the backboard out of two MDF planks because they don’t come wide enough. What a rip-off.

After printing the stencils for the background of the unit, we set off to sawing and boy is it fun- messy and exhausting. Leaving the two backboards to dry we proceeded to cut out all the other shelving components. Using a pot of paint left in the garage by the previous owner we were saved the trouble of colour matching and painted the components of the furniture. On a side note, furniture building in pyjamas is the best. We were not surprised when the glue did not perform as well as we would have wanted it to because glue ladies and gentlemen, glue. Placing the semi held together backboards on the ground we proceeded to stencils and spray canning which neither of us nerds had any notion how to use (Sometimes one does wish that he had +1 in tagging so one could use a spray can in a minimally adequate fashion). After a messy first attempt at the FF7 meteor, we got better as we moved on to Navi and the Chocobo.

The Finished Backboard
We also settled on the idea that if screws don’t work then this project would probably be scrapped, but if screws did not split the wood it would only help the glue hold the unit even better. Since the shelf components would run across the width of both backboards, once they were screwed onto the back they would provide additional compressive forces preventing the components of the backboards from falling away from each other and holding the glue parts tighter together over a longer period to settle. 

The unit fit perfectly under the stairs with space for the vacuum cleaner behind it. The screw heads stick out a bit because we were lacking the appropriate chamfering drill head addition. We finally put the toolbox that Lauren’s granddad gifted us to good use and completed the unit to a level that, I would say matched our skills.

Would I do it all over again: hell yeah!!!

+3 to craftsmanship +1 to tagging + 10 fun

Cyber dog out  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Phase 2 The Itch

Leaving the 'grey' area on the side of the train station just left and itch. Cured it. Let me know what you think.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Phase 2 Rail Station LDD

 Phase two is complete and I am more than satisfied with it. Nevertheless, there are many things that can be added to this set. I have yet to post it on the Lego website. Between CAD designs and gaming, this little beauty has multiple sources of inspiration.

The model sits on a 48x48 base plate adjacent to 3 road plates for coherence.

There are three dominant exterior colours: the black, grey and burgundy bricks. For some reason the black bricks look blue-ish when rendered by the Lego Digital Designer software.

Overall, the key features from phase 1 are still present:

  • The mini train figure is still there,
  • The inside of the main station has the coffee and ticket place,
  • There is an overhead crossing,
  • Covered waiting area and
  • Smaller waiting area on the second platform.

except for the bike rack but there is space on the side of the building for one. The burgundy and grey brick arrangement is similar to the fire station set. I feel it gives the build a bit more character and more coherent to the existing Lego sets I own. The round transparent bricks add a lighting effect on the flower beds.

From the opposite angle the features of the overhead crossing are visible. I have added the fencings and rails to mark the end of the platforms. Do note that the covered waiting area is longer than in Phase 1. The 3 brick space is just enough for the train doors to open which was a relief when designing.

The inside space has the ticket office with swivelling chair and computer and bureau drawers. The back wall of the office has a wooden table and shelf.

The coffee shop has an angled display which for the life of me I could not get the software to fit flat squares on to represent chocolate bars and cookies. The back has a sink similar to the fire station set and the shelf has a coffee machine with multicoloured transparent bricks to represent the different flavours of shots that go in drinks. Lauren thinks it looks more like a pharmacy. Let me know what you think. There is no keyboards associated to the coffee shop since I wanted it to be more of a touch screen. I can still include a few chairs on the inside for seating but decided against it for clarities sake.

While it is not visible from the shots taken each platform has a digital clock under the covered platform.

Let's post this on the Lego website and see what comes of it.

Cyber-Dog Brick Out

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Phase 1 Rail Station

Phase 1 of the train station is complete. I am quite pleased with it. While there are significant improvements to be made let us have a walk through the rail station while highlighting the key features to the build.

The front of the rail station is marked with some features like the
  • double lamp post before the steps
  • flower bed on the left
  • bicycle rack on the right
  • The little yellow sign was taken from the set because it is the 'transport sign'  Lego uses and it features on the minifigure of the train conductor in the Green Emerald steam train.

The facade of the build has a swing door as well as a sliding door. Except for the office side of the building the windows go all the way to the floor. After much 'motivating', the mini train sign on the station is a collaboration with Lauren. I am quite proud of it.

As you walk in, to your left the ticket booth is present and to your immediate right are seating arrangements and to your far right is the cafeteria complete with coffee machine and wall shelf. The roof technique is emulated from the creator sets which allows it to be easily detached to see the inside.

On the rail side of the build there are two doors one is for passengers to get onto the platform and the other one is for the station masters access to and from the platform and the ticket booth. The arched overhead is very much imitating how stations are in UK countryside. There are seating arrangements ending with a bin on the far side of the platform. The platform ends onto the overhead crossing that leads to the other platform.

Finally, when it is integrated at the end of the high street:

Pre Rail Station

Post Rail Station

Close up
Surprisingly enough, I had bricks to complete the station. However, the rail is not in the most ideal colour. Phase 2 will include completely redrawing the rail station on LDD in a suitable colour and possibly trying to obtain them by means of theft/begging/etc. What colours do you guys suggest the build should be in? Lauren thinks that the burgundy used in the existing buildings would be a good choice for harmony. Transport in Lego is often coloured in yellow and white; this is another option. What do you guys think? What other improvements or key features are lacking or you think it would be nice to have? Comment here or on facebook and I will pick up on them.

Cyber-dog brick out.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Brick Touch

While Terraria and Minecraft became my pseudo Lego because of its financial implications, they never could quite cut it. Let us blame it on nostalgia. Nothing cuts it like the real thing. Enter Lego Digital Designer (LDD). Infinite Lego bits, if the build gets approved through moderation you can even order the original build in. Purr-fect. That said I have tried many things on LDD, namely, a Museum, spaceships and the only actual successfully completed one the Oriental walk bridge. The organic nature of the architecture just challenges the orthogonal nature of Lego and really it made it worth it.

You can already see the lack of depth to this construction. This is why during this jobless time of mine and the downtime in the League of Legends EU server. I got the old wicker basket out with the red lined cloth. That one basket actually belongs to Lauren but it contains all the Lego bricks that Lauren and me did not find a home for.

Yet there it was the definite lack in the town become we have enough Lego sets to call it a high street with just enough houses for a residential area (Photos will be posted when they are taken. It is 03 18 and flash photography would even disturb my eyes at this point; but hey once you get going...).

Bottom line is our town which consists of the Grocery Store/Mall/Hotel/Retro Fire station and umm a space shuttle launching pad  o_0  was lacking the obvious. We have had the Green Emerald Steam Train for quite a while and the tracks but no station so today except for a job application to someone who probably will not employ me anyway because awesome is not good enough, I set myself to making the station. I actually set out to build the station two days ago but when I stared at the basket, it stared back at me.

I was not sure if I had the resources for the build so after two days of sorting the basket in logical piles - and when I say piles these now have taken over half of my living room, I set off to undertake the build. My unfaithful 'main d'oeuvre' left me for sleep because past 21 45 it seems a switch is just knocked into a woman's brain that says, 'neEEeeed sleeeEEEeeep.'

I powered through and the build is almost complete except for the missing pieces. Photos will follow. The station has the regular features namely 'station' and ticket office. However, compared to the lame backless city set (anything backless is lame unless it is a dress. Seriously how would you like to live in a backless house and hell the backless prison sure is impregnable.). This one has an overhead footpath and a cafeteria and overhead cover for people on rainy days.

Phase two, as I will call it, will consist of identifying bricks that require replacing because of wearing and also LDD of the Clock on the front of the station because I definitely do not have the parts for it. Then identify the bricks that are missing. For specific numbers I will be using LDD. I found some interesting websites that sell second hand Lego bricks.

Phase three will be the completion of the project.

Good Night my friends. I will try and upload photos of the build tomorrow and also maybe the high street itself.

PS.: I thank LegoLord on Flickr who inspired me to forge on. One day I will have to raid his house for all his Lego

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Brick Love

This blog has been inactive for a while now. Mostly, because I get distracted. As much as I'd like to get back into Terraria decompilation, what the developers have done in Starbound looks really neat. Their pixel art make my tunneller look drab.
Why am I here I ask myself?
I had a panic attack today when I thought my Terraria character and map files had disappeared. After I found them nostalgia kicked in. Which is why I probably went and looked for the Starbound website to see if the developers were making utter rubbish or actually a gem.
I feels like a gem. Looks like a gem. Hell, their website just so full of thumbs ups. The cutesy nature of Starbound, the colour palette choice. They have an actual transport system in place. I would kill to see their coding.
At the same time, the game has a back story. To what extent is the world dependent on the back story scares me a lot as it will shift the game from the endless randomised worlds with endless replay ability to a more streamlined environment.

I love Terraria to bits. So I will every so often poke myself into breaking my mining fast and well, this place might gain some momentum again. 

Until then

Fair thee well internets!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Active Bricks

Active silver blocks have been successfully created. I have to learn more about the behaviour of inactive stone walls before I move on to completing the primary set which will be the mother code for all the other active blocks. Took me the whole day to figure this out. Previous active/inactive block systems seem to rely on the inactive walls being 'walk through' bricks which I would like to avoid using. Furthermore, the present 'walk through' bricks do not allow bricks to stack vertically while building unless there is an interfacing tile next to it.

Good night

P.S. I have not watched any anime series for more than a week now. Troubling thought that.