Monday, December 14, 2015

Fencing Assembly Illustrated Build

Not clearly shown in the current set of plans is the method of assembly and build of the Fencing that goes around the roof line in front of the Atrium.  For those of you asking and waiting for details on how this works, wait no longer - here it is, the Illustrated Build of the Fencing.


You’ll need a number of tools to complete the Fencing on this Advent House as shown in these images. Here is the initial list:
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  • Thin CA Glue (Hobby/RC Airplane shop)
  • X-Acto Knife
  • Black fine Point Sharpie
  • 1/8" Drill Bit
  • Paper Towels (for clean up)
  • Wax Paper/plastic to protect surrounding areas from the CA Glue. (or a work piece)

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So – let’s get started on the Fencing:

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Paint Fencing


Start by Painting the Fencing Pieces.  This includes painting BOTH SIDES of the Fencing Pickets (7 pieces) and painting 1 side of the Fencing Beams (7 pieces).  The image above shows the pieces laid out.  You can see the piece in the upper left hand corner has the beam laid on top of the bottom section of the fencing.

Allow the paint to dry sufficiently.

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Mark Hole Locations


Lay each Fencing Pickets piece on the top front edge of the roof.  While holding in place, mark the hole locations on the front edge of the roof piece using the Fine Point Sharpie.  Simply mark inside each hole on the Fencing Picket Pieces.  The order of marking these is not so important as long as you plan ahead.  For example, make sure the front piece is centered, make sure the other pieces fit where they belong.  Mark all hole locations.

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Hole Locations Marked



In this image you can see where I have marked the 2 hole locations for the Front Fence piece.  Mark All Fence Hole Locations (16 places)

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Drilling Hole Locations


Using a 1/8" Drill Bit, drill the holes for the matching magnets.  ** CAREFUL - DO NOT Drill too deep.  You only want to drill just deep enough for the magnet to sit flush with the face of the roof edge.  Drill about 1/16" deep is all.  It's OK if it's a little deeper, but if you go too deep, you may need to backfill with something (like drill dust) so that the magnet doesn't go too deep when gluing.

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Hole Drilled


It's hard to see, but this image shows the one hole drilled in the face of the roof edge..


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All Holes Drilled


This image shows all of the fencing piece holes drilled in the face of the edge of the roof piece.

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Prep for Glue


It's now time to match the unpainted side of the Fencing Beam to the face of the Fencing Picket.  You may want to check your picket pieces for the 'best' faces and glue the beam to the other side.

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- – WARNING – - 
Now seems like a good time to make a point of the caution needed while using CA glue. In case you are interested, you can read more about CA glue online, but in short, CA glue is a fast acting and powerful glue used in many different applications. CA Glue can be dangerous. Be very careful not to get it on your skin – it can take days to wear off, and please, please, please don’t get this in your eyes. Safety goggles aren’t a bad idea here. Lastly, once this stuff drys/cures – it’s solid and trying to separate 2 pieces of material once it is glued will almost always result in broken material and not a broken glue bond. So please be sure you know where the piece is going before you glue it down. ok? – ok, enough of that.

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Glue Beams and Pickets


Run a small bead of thin CA Glue on the chosen 'back' side of the fencing beam, only along the bottom where the beam will attach.  And don't get it in the holes just yet, you'll be adding glue there later.

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Fence Beam Attached



This image shows the Beam glued on the Pickets.  Repeat this gluing process for all fencing pieces.


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Test Fit Magnets to Pickets
*** WARNING ***   This next step is IMPERATIVE that it is done correctly.




Turn each piece upside down (front facing down) and place a magnet in each hole for a test fit.

You MUST ensure that the magnets are aligned properly with their counterparts  When this is all glued up, you don't want your magnets repelling each other!  Otherwise the fencing won't really stay on too well! (or at all!)

To ensure the magnets are all set properly, we found the easiest way is to take the entire stack of magnets all stuck together (so that none are repelling each other).  Place the bottom magnet (still stuck on the bottom of the stack) in the hole of the picket, then, while sliding the entire stack to the side (thus sliding the 'next-to-the-bottom' magnet to the side), use a non-metallic item (fingernail, plastic stick, wood stick, etc,) to hold the 'bottom' magnet in its hole.  This may take some practice.  Do this to each hole until you are sure that each are in the proper orientation and your process works well.

Once you are comfortable with this process and you are absolutely positive that each magnet is staying where it belongs when you place it, you can then get the glue out. (especially make sure the magnet isn't turning itself upside down when you remove the full stack of magnets from the bottom one)

Now, remove all the magnets.  Place a small drop of thin CA glue in each hole, then place the magnet in place.  The goal here is to keep the magnet flat, and be in proper orientation.  After you are sure the magnet is where it belongs, place another drop of thin CA glue on top of the magnet and allow the glue to work it's way down a bit around the magnet.  After waiting about 30 seconds, use a piece of paper towel to wipe (side to side) any extra glue off the magnet and the painted fencing picket.


WHEW!  Did you do it?  That was a long step!


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Magnets Glued in the Pickets


And this is the goal of the first gluing.  Each fence piece should now have a magnet in the holes.  After allowing to dry for a few minutes, it wouldn't hurt to put another drop of Thin CA glue on top of each magnet, let it set for 30 seconds and wiping clean again.

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Prep for Assembly



Now that each magnet is glued nicely in the pickets, place a matching magnet on each of the fencing magnets, as shown in this image.  These non-glued magnets will self align and orient (because of the polarity)

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Prep for Attachment (Practice First)


Now match the magnets to the holes on the roof piece and slide the piece to the side (holding it down tight)

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Slide the Pickets



As shown here, the picket is to be slid to the side while holding down pressure.  This will release the non-glued magnets from the glued magnets that are attached to the pickets.

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Slide Picket Up


Now slide the pickets forward (or up if you have it that way) so that the non-glued magnets stay right where they belong, in their holes, as shown in this image.

Assuming this works as expected, You can then restart this step, but first, add a drop of glue to the hole on the face of the roof piece.  This will glue the magnets into place.  After sliding the picket out of the way, be sure to wipe the backside of the pickets with a paper towel so that you don't have extra CA glue sticking around back there.

Allow the roof magnets to dry/cure for just a moment, then carefully wipe the extra glue from them as well.

Wait a few minutes, then place a drop of thin CA glue on the roof magnets, allow to set for 30 seconds or so, and wipe clean again.  It wouldn't hurt to wait another 5-10 minutes, and repeat this 'extra drop of glue' step just to be sure the magnets are glued well.

Now repeat this same process for each of the rest of the pickets and magnets.


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Fencing DONE!



Once glued up, each fencing piece should easily attached and detach from the structure.  Make note that it is on purpose that this magnet bond is not really strong.  The fencing pieces are fragile so you don't want them to attach too well or they may break if they get bumped or while trying to remove them,

Also note - this is NOT a toy - children should be carefully supervised if they are attaching or detaching the fencing.  The fencing is removable for storage.  Wrap them up in a piece of foam or bubble wrap when the house goes into storage.

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Next Steps

Be sure to remove and carefully store the fencing pieces while finishing work on the rest of the Advent House.  Now you can move on to finishing the windows.

If you haven't already, get moving on the Atrium, the Tower, and/or the Windows.  Watch this blog for updates to other Illustrated Build Posts.




Questions?  Comments?  Feel free to contact me.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Mansion Advent House Plans now Downloadable!

For many years now, Advent House Plans have only provided printed plans for those who wanted to build their own Christmas Advent House. This is now changing to allow for a downloadable file.  This allows for quicker access to the plans so that you can get started sooner.

Simply add the Advent House Plans to your cart, login to/create an account and make your purchase.  Your downloadable file will be available in the 'My Account' area on our website.




Friday, November 20, 2015

Illustrated Structure Build


*** Update November 2017 ***
Please note, the parts numbering has changed from what is shown in the steps below.  While the steps shown below remain the same, we have updated the numbering to make it a bit easier to assemble.  Please visit this link to see the information on the updated parts numbering.
*** End Of Update ***


Advent House Plans has recently completed a remodel of the Mansion Style Advent House and this post is to show you, step-by-step, how to build the main structure of the Advent House from the new model, parts and pieces.

You’ll need a number of tools to build this Advent House Structure as shown in these images. Here is the intitial list:
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  • Super Thin CA Glue (Hobby/RC Airplane shop)
  • Extra Thick CA Glue (Hobby/RC Airplane shop)
  • X-Acto Knife
  • Sharpened Pencil
  • Optional: Dremel Tool with a 618 Chamfer Bit
  • Paper Towels (for clean up)
  • Sandpaper (100-200 grit) or a dremel tool with sanding drum(s)
  • Wax Paper/plastic to protect surrounding areas from the CA Glue.

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So – let’s get started on this new model:

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Labeling the 1/4" Material Blocks


Start by labeling each of the parts and pieces in the 1/4" thick MDF blocks.  Use the included printed sheets to reference for the part names/numbers.

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Each Piece is Labeled


You can see in this picture that each piece (on this particular block) is hand labeled with a pencil.  This prevents us from cutting out all the pieces and then forgetting which piece is which and where it is supposed to go.  Label every part from the 1/4" MDF Material.

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Prep for Cutting



For this demo, we are using the Dremel with a 618 Chamfer Bit to cut out all of our parts.  This is much faster, cleaner and less prone to accidental slip-scratches.  From the back side of each block/part, punch a small hole through the 'Onion Skin'.  The 618 Chamfer Bit is not a plunge bit so it won't push through the onion skin.  Punch a hole through each block that will need Dremel Access.



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Cutting the 'Waste'



To use the Dremel Method, place each block face-down onto a solid and flat piece of material.  I used another piece of MDF, but a large metal piece would also work.  Keep in mind that The very tip of the Chamfer bit will be spinning rapidly on the base material and does tend to heat up.  So don't use a plastic or other melting material.

Now with the material face-down on a base piece, insert the Dremel Chamfer bit into one of the holes you punched through the Onion Skin.  By simply running the Dremel around each piece, you will get a clean cut of every part.  The dremel tool is exactly the correct length to be pressed down on the base peice and even cut the top edge of the parts you want to keep.  You may get a tiny chamfered edge, but that's OK and actually comes in handy later.

** Be careful and take safety precautions such as mouth and eye protection. ** Have a vacuum on hand for all the dust and cleanup.

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Roof Pieces Prepped



Here you can see I have the Roof pieces all cut out and cleaned up.

** This seems like a good place to note the orientation of parts.  For most of the parts, you can only put them together one way.  The roof pieces are NOT like that.  Please note that the window openings are to be nearer the top of the pieces, and that the angle cut on the tops and bottoms of the parts are to be oriented to provide gluing area.  In other words, the angled top and bottom edges will actually end up being horizontal (Because the roof pieces all slope backwards).

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Cutting Parts

Here you can see several of the pieces as they are being routered out of their respective blocks.






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All Parts Cutout and Ready



I spend about 1 hour cutting out all of these pieces.  That's from opening the box to being ready to start assembly.

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- – WARNING – - Now seems like a good time to make a point of the caution needed while using CA glue. In case you are interested, you can read more about CA glue online, but in short, CA glue is a fast acting and powerful glue used in many different applications. I was introduced to CA Glue when I got into RC Model Airplanes. I found that CA Glue is particularly useful in bonding MDF due to how smooth and dense the material is. However, at the same time, CA Glue can be dangerous. Be very careful not to get it on your skin – it can take days to wear off, and please, please, please don’t get this in your eyes. Safety goggles aren’t a bad idea here. Lastly, once this stuff drys/cures – it’s solid and trying to separate 2 pieces of MDF once it is glued will almost always result in broken MDF and not a broken glue bond. So please be sure you know where the piece is going before you glue it down. ok? – ok, enough of that.

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Prep for Assembly

These next two images show the solid and super flat base piece I'm putting under the plastic covering.  This is just a piece of Pressboard that I had laying around.  It's lots flatter than the plastic table I work on.  Be sure to use some sort of covering (Wax paper, plastic, etc) because CA Glue WILL get on it.




Once you have a good solid base, we're ready to start assembly.

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Back Pieces



Lay out the back pieces, BK1 through BK6 as shown.  The tab system should allow you to only lay these out one way.  In this image, the bottom three parts is actually the top back piece, and the top assembled parts in this image is actually the bottom back part.  You'll see this when we assemble to the floor.


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Glue Edges




Apply the 'Extra Thick' CA Glue to all of the inside edges (First Image) and press together.  Keeping the assembled parts flat on the good base you are using, hold them for just about 20-30 seconds.  Then let them sit for another 45-60 seconds (Second Picture).  Now use the Ultra Thin CA Glue (Be Careful!), run a line of glue along the seems (Third Picture).  This ultra thin glue will work down into the seem to give you an even stronger bond.

In the unlikely event of a seem not being perfect, you can go back to the extra thick and help 'full the gaps'.

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Flip and Glue Again


After letting the Thin CA dry a little, flip the parts over and run the thin glue on the backsides as well.

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Assemble the Other Flat Pieces





Assemble the 3 Floor Pieces (F1-F3), as shown in Picture 1
Assemble the 3 Roof Pieces (RF1-RF3), as shown in Picture 2
Assemble the Atrium Back (ABK1 & ABK2), as shown in Picture 3

Follow the same gluing steps as above, starting with the Extra Thick, then following up with the Ultra Thin.  Allow these all to dry well before moving (Maybe 2-3 minutes each)

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Let's Put up some Walls


Glue the Bottom Back Wall Assembly to the Floor Assembly as shown.  Following the same gluing pattern as before.

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Attach Wall 1 (W1)



Attach W1 to the floor and bottom back piece.  The Tab system should prevent you from assembling it in the wrong place or wrong direction, but just be sure it looks right (Edges line up, etc).

** Please Note ** - Walls 2&6 need to be double checked for proper orientation prior to gluing.  Check the tab system to ensure things line up properly.  If you have any concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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Continue with Walls


This image shows walls 1-4 are all attached and glued in.  In this image I have not yet come back with the Ultra Thin Glue.  I'll do this in the next step.

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Inside of Walls



This image shows where I have started to apply the Ultra Thin CA Glue to strengthen the wall/floor connections.

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All Walls Up


Now all the walls are assembled and glued in.

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IMPORTANT:

The assembly of the Soffits must be done in a specific order.  Please follow these steps carefully.

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Soffit Assembly




Assemble the Front 3 Soffits (Parts S3,S4 & S5) as shown here.  Follow the same gluing pattern as before (the thin glue is not yet done in this image)

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Install Soffits (S2 & S6)


These are the next two parts to install.  (Note the orientation of the tab/grooves)  Glue the same as before, but hold off on the thin glue until all Soffit parts are in.

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Install Soffits (S1 & S7)



Install these end pieces next.  Note the 'Tongue' on S1 fits in nicely with S2.

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Install Center Soffits


Now the assembled front 3 Soffit pieces should slide nicely into place.  Once you verify fit, remove, glue and assemble.

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Upper Back Wall


Using the tabs, align the Upper Back Assembly into place.  Verify fit and glue into place.

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Prep the Flat Roof


The Larger Bracing Piece (RB2) goes into the two slots in the center Flat Roof.  This part will slide in from what will become the bottom of the flat roof.  See the next step.



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Install Center Bracing


Using the tabs, Install and Glue the Center Bracing Piece.  Once this is glued, make note that the roof piece is now laying top-down on the table.  Or in other words, the Bracing Piece will be on the bottom of the flat roof piece, once it is installed on the Advent House.



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Align Side Bracing - DO NOT GLUE YET


Test fit the two side bracing pieces.  Note the Angled edge goes to the OUTSIDE edge of the Roof.  This is the angle that the the Roof Piece #1 will glue to for additional bracing support.





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Install the Roof 
Start with the Roof Piece (R1), which has a tab/slot for alignment with the Upper Back Assembly.  Ensure the Bottom front edge of R1 is aligned with the front edge of Soffit S1, and glue into place.

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Continue with the Roof 



This image shows the Flat Roof Piece in place (NOT GLUED) to help with support during gluing of the roof pieces.  You can see the Bracing Piece (RB2) in place onthe Flat Roof Assembly, and the Roof R2 is leaning up next to it.

Glue R2 into place WITHOUT gluing to the roof OR the bracing.





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Use Outside Bracing (NOT GLUED)


The outside Bracing Pieces (NOT GLUED YET) also help to align and support the roof pieces during installation.





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All Roof Pieces Installed


Install the Front 3 Roof Pieces as well.  Do the full Glue up Process.





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Glue in Flat Roof


Next step is to glue in the flat roof piece assembly (still WITHOUT the 2 side bracing pieces).  The flat Roof aligns with the tabs/slots on the upper back assembly, and sits atop the 7 angled Roof Pieces.  Lots of glue and maybe an extra set of hands will help hold this in place and ensure a good gluing connection.





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NOW We glue in the 2 Side Braces


Using the same gluing process, glue up the 2 side brace pieces.  Make note again - the angled edge of the bracing pieces is to be glued to the backside of R1 (on the left) and R7 (on the right).  Once glued up, reach inside and slide the bracing tab up into the open slit on each end of the Flat Roof.  Slide the Bracing piece up tight against the R1 & R7 pieces.

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Final Thin CA Gluing


This is the location of the tab where the side braces come up through the flat roof.  At this point, go wild with the Thin CA Glue and re-glue all connections, just to provide a solid assembly.

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Structure Complete!


And that's the Structure!

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Concrete Bases


I now glue the bases into place. I will use plastic masking to spray these separate from the hosue, but it's easier to do than painting and install each piece later.  Start with B2 & B6.  Then install B3 and B5, then B1 & B7.  Lastly, install B4 (the very front).  Save B8 for later installation, right near the end of the project.
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1/4" MDF DONE!




And it's finished!  You may have some drips of glue, like I do, but that's OK because that's all going to be covered by texture, paint, and exterior finishes.

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1/4" MDF DONE!

Congratulations on finishing the Structure portion of your Christmas Advent House.  

For reference, I spent a total of about 2 hours to complete this.  From taking it out of the box to this picture takes 2 hour of work if you buckle down and focus.

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Next Steps

If you haven't already, get moving on the Atrium, the Tower, and/or the Windows.  Watch this blog for an update to the Illustrated Window build as well, coming soon.


Questions?  Comments?  Feel free to contact me.