Finishing The Module Frame

Installing The Middle Cross Member
Now that we've gained the experience of fastening the gussets to the end plates and the gusset/end plate assemblies to the side pieces, it should be a piece of cake to install the middle cross member.

However, one major mistake I've often made was to install the middle cross member with the "Top" up when the "Top" of the module frame was on my work space.  I managed to correct one while the glue was still fresh.  The other one..... well, we had to do a bit of sawing. 

1) Place the module frame with the "Top" down ("Bottom" up) on your work surface.

2) Make sure the "In" side of the sides are marked at the mid-point so that we can locate the position of the middle cross member.

3) Place a measuring block on each side of the module next to the mid-point marks. 

4) Install screws in the 4 holes (2 on each side) so that the screw tips are flush with the "In" side of the sides pieces but you should not be able to feel them with the tips of your fingers.

5) Liberally apply glue to both ends of the middle cross member.

6) Turn the middle cross member so that the "Bottom" is facing you. (You shouldn't see the notch in the wood!)

7) Insert and position the middle cross member so that the ends are mid-way between the two marks.

8) Screw in the screws on one side and then the other side.

9) Wipe off the excess glue.

And here's what all that work we've been doing over the past number of blogs now looks like.  Pretty good eh!!?

Filling In The Screw Holes
Nothing looks worse than seeing the ends of the screws in a piece of finished woodwork when it's so easy to cover them up with some wood filler.

All we need is a tube of wood filler and an applicator.  The applicator can simply be a wooden coffee stir stick, a small spatula, or a chisel blade on the end of an X-Acto knife. We also want a dampened shop rag close by to clean up any extra wood filler we apply in the wrong places. 

We apply the first coat of wood filler, making sure we press the paste well into the screw hole as the screw may have been countersunk a bit deeper than we expected.  If any screws aren't recessed enough, give them an extra twist with the screwdriver.

You may find that you're "chasing" the wood filler in the plastic squeeze tube and not getting a lot of filler out when you need it.  Simply press on the end of the tube with the "heel" of your hand, rather than trying to squeeze the tube.  

Let the wood filler set for 24 hours.

You may be now tempted to use some sandpaper to sand the wood filler smooth.  This is going to create a bit of unnecessary sawdust so I simply use a damp shop rag (I prefer a J-cloth) and rub the wood filler until it's smooth with the surface of the wood.

I then apply another coat of wood filler.  It will dry in 30-45 minutes.  I repeat the wet-sanding process once more and apply a 3rd coat of wood filler which will dry in another 30-45 minutes.

At this point, you may notice there are some wood chips sticking up on the edges of the dried wood filler - the chips that resulted when we drilled the screw holes.  This is where I take a sanding block (palm sander, orbital sander, etc) and lightly sand the outside of the module frame.

I then wipe the whole frame down with a damp "tack" cloth to remove any sawdust.  I'm now ready to apply the first coat of paint.

Making Sure Module Pairs Line Up

At long last we're at the point where we can apply some paint to the module frames! However, before we take the lid off the paint can, I want to check one more thing as a few minutes here can save us lots of time and headaches later on.

Remember that we are building two modules, even though you haven't seen the second one.  I've bolted them both together making use of the T-nuts (blind and threaded) that we installed in one of our earlier blogs

Before I apply any paint, I want to make sure that the top edges of the two end plates are perfectly even with each other.  If they aren't, it's easy to sand the top edges now than later on when we've got them painted or when we have the Styrofoam installed.

Painting The Module Frame
Now that the edges are flush, we can start to apply the first coat of paint.

A couple of things to keep in mind:
- Watch out for "paint drips" on the underside of the surfaces you are painting
- The recesses for the telco jacks can easily fill up with excess paint.  Make sure you "dry-brush" the excess.
- Take your time in applying the paint.  If you don't get it on the first coat, you can always get it on the second coat.

I usually use Tremclad flat black but I forgot who I lent my paint to.  So, I'm using flat-black latex.  However, not all paints are "flat".  A number of years ago, the paint manufacturers re-formulated their paints so that many "flat" paints have a "sheen" to it when dry.  We usually want a "flat" colour paint so that the main focus of the viewer will be on the scenes on our modules and not on our module frame.  Any paint with a sheen plays tricks on the eye so that our eyes get slightly detracted to the module frame.  All of which to say - stay away from gloss and semi-gloss paints for the module frame.

That first coat of paint tends to bring up the "fuzzies" in the wood.  If you're using plywood, those edges will be more than "fuzzy" - they'll be very rough.  So, before applying the second coat, give the module frames a light sanding. It will add to that "professional look" of our modules. 

You may also find some scratches and dents on the exterior of the module frame that were overlooked with the wood putty.  Now's the time to fill them in and finish them off with some "wet sanding" (a dampened J-cloth).

Make sure you keep some cleaning supplies close at hand in case things get spilled - a shop rag and water for latex paint, a shop rag and varsol/ paint thinner/ turpentine/ etc for alkyd/ oil/ Tremclad paints. 

And here's both modules with their first coat of paint.

Don't forget to clean the brush as we have two more coats to go.  If it's latex paint, simply wash the brush in soapy water.  If it's alkyd/  oil/ Tremclad, simply put the brush in a Ziploc bag and seal the bag.  The brush will stay fresh for the next coat of paint.  When we've finished with the 2nd and 3rd coats, we can clean the brush then. 

No comments: