H.M.S Fly Captains Cabin Writing Desk

Great Cabin Writing Desk (Bureau) (Scale1:64)

An eighteenth-century desk was researched at this furniture storage company. Figure AI1 and Figure AI2.

Dimensions = overall height x depth x width x height to fall of desk.

Inches = 41.75ins x 22.25ins x 40.25ins x 30.66ins

Millimetres = 1060.45 x 565.15mm x 1022.35mm x 778.93mm

1:64 scale = 16.57mm x 8.83mm x 16mm x 12mm

Figure AI1 – George III Mahogany Bureau Desk
Figure AI1 – George III Mahogany Bureau Desk

 

Figure AI2 – George III Mahogany Bureau Desk
Figure AI2 – George III Mahogany Bureau Desk

From Figure AI1 and Figure AI2 a 1:64 scale image was made, Figure AI3; this is printed scale 1:1 onto 80gsm plain copier paper at best quality. Authors printer - Epson Stylus Office BX450FW Plus, print setting: - plain papers, photo.

Figure AI3 – Writing Desk (print scale 1:1)

It will be noted the feet of the desk in Figure AI3 are a little different to Figure AI1 and Figure AI2; these would have been difficult to reproduce in 1:64 scale so the desk feet as shown on the Bark Endeavour Figure AI4, were copied.

Figure AI4 – Writing Desk on H M Bark Endeavour
Figure AI4 – Writing Desk on H M Bark Endeavour
(© H M Bark Endeavour)

The dimensions in Figure AI3 cannot be changed, therefore the wooden base on which the image will be glued will have to be made to the exact size to fit the image. To achieve this, templates are made; this author will always have a good look around ‘Haberdashery’ departments as many useful items can be found which can be utilised for modelling. ‘Sew Group International’ produce a ‘Template Plastic Plain’ Item Number ER398, which was ideal for these templates however, any suitable acetate plastic could be used providing it is of a suitable thickness. For example, plastic report covers could be used.

Figure AI5 and Figure AI6 are printed (scale 1:1) and are fixed to the template material; this author used ‘3M Craft Mount Permanent Adhesive’, Figure AI7.

Figure AI5 – Writing Desk Template (print scale 1:1)
Figure AI5 – Writing Desk Template (print scale 1:1)

Print Figure AI5 at scale 1:1 Link to print page here

Figure AI6 – Template for Width of Writing Desk (print scale 1:1)
Figure AI6 – Template for Width of Writing Desk

Print Figure AI6 at scale 1:1 Link to prnt page here.

Figure AI7 – Templates for Writing Desk
Figure AI7 – Templates for Writing Desk

Note: - Feet of the Writing Desk on Figure AI3 are 1mm, but on the template they are 1.3mm; this author found when the wooden base had been finished it was better that the feet were just a little longer, then they could be filed when the image had been fixed onto the wooden base to the correct height, which will be explained at the end of these notes.

The wooden base of the Writing Desk is made from 1.5mm thick x 10mm wide strip limewood; the patterns for the base are shown in Figure AI8 and are printed scale 1:1 on ordinary copier paper. Link to that page Here

Figure AI8 – Patterns for constructing wooden base for Writing Desk
Figure AI8 – Patterns for constructing wooden base for Writing Desk

The long straight edge of the limewood is known to be perfectly straight and square, so the back of the Writing Desk patterns are lined up with this edge. This is illustrated in Figure AI9, where a heavy book; this author used a ‘Collins Thesaurus’, acts as backstop for a wooden block of wood which the limewood is pushed against with a strip of wood (1). EVO-STIK P.V.A. wood glue is applied to the limewood (2) then the pattern of the Writing Desk is applied to the limewood with a pair of tweezers ensuring the back of the writing desk is pushed squarely against the block of wood (3).

Figure AI9 – Writing Desk patterns are fixed to the limewood
Figure AI9 – Writing Desk patterns are fixed to the limewood

Figure AI10 shows the patterns glued to the limewood.

Figure AI10 – Patterns glued to the limewood
Figure AI10 – Patterns glued to the limewood

Referring to Figure AI11, a chisel craft knife is used to cut approximately around the patterns (1). Using needle files, the patterns are filed until they will fit exactly into the Writing Desk template Figure AI7 (2 & 3). Ensure that the back edge of the patterns are not filed.

Figure AI11 – Patterns are cut out and then fitted into the Writing Desk templates
Figure AI11 – Patterns are cut out and then fitted into the Writing Desk templates

Referring to Figure AI12 the paper patterns (1), are removed using water and a ‘PIAS’ Eye Brow Brush (2), producing the finished limewood patterns (3).

Figure AI12 – Paper patterns removed from the limewood
Figure AI12 – Paper patterns removed from the limewood

A metal set square is fixed to a cutting mat with two-sided sticky tape; a square length of wood is fitted against the set square with two-sided sticky tape and a piece of acetate is placed beneath the set square as illustrated in Figure AI3.

Figure AI13 – Metal set square fixed to cutting mat
Figure AI13 – Metal set square fixed to cutting mat

Note: - There is a lack of continuity with the following photographs as this author experimented with producing the Writing Desk with different methods, but the sequence for building the Writing Desk is correct.

Referring to Figure AI14, the right-hand pattern with feet is placed against the set square with the back edge of the desk facing downwards (1). The second pattern, without feet has EVO-STIK placed on its side and then pushed against the first pattern (2), and this is repeated 3 more times. It is important that each pattern is pushed against the set square as illustrated in Figure AI14. This author used a small square block of wood to push toward the thick part of the set square, whilst a length of thin wood was used to push against the long side of the set square. The left-hand pattern with feet is glued against a pattern with no feet (3) and this is repeated two more times, constantly ensuring that the patterns are being pushed against the set square.

The left and right hand-side patterns are then placed into the ‘Template for Width of Writing Desk’ (4), and it will be seen that there is a gap between the left and right hand-side, Figure AI14.

Figure AI14 – Writing Desk wooden base being assembled against a set square
Figure AI14 – Writing Desk wooden base being assembled against a set square

A pattern to fit between the gap is sanded on its flat side until it will fit snugly in the gap whilst in the template, Figure AI5. The assembly is again placed against the set square and the middle pattern is glued in place ensuring that everything is pushed firmly against the set square and the finished wooden base can be seen in Figure AI16.

Figure AI15 – A pattern is fitted whilst in the ‘Template for the Width of Writing Desk’
Figure AI15 – A pattern is fitted whilst in the ‘Template for the Width of Writing Desk’

 

Figure AI16 – Completed wooden base for the Writing Desk
Figure AI16 – Completed wooden base for the Writing Desk

As was mentioned at the beginning of these Guidance Notes, the printed image from Figure AI3 is fixed in its dimensions, so the finished wooden base of the Writing Desk will need to be adjusted to fit the printed image through using a combination of flat needle file and P120 grit sandpaper. Patience is required to achieve this, but it is achievable; it is the first time this author has attempted to produce the 1:64 scale Writing Desk, so the difficulties are fully understood, and these Guidance Notes are really reflecting the ‘learning process’.

Whilst any sharp craft blade can be used, this author has found the X-ACTO Z series #11 are very good for the precise cutting required with all of the ‘Captain’s Cabin’ furniture.

There is a sequence to cutting the Writing Desk image out, and it is better to have several trial runs to gain practise. Firstly, do the small cuts through the paper on the red lines as shown in Figure AI17; these will act as a guide for when scoring on the reverse side of the image. For the scoring, practise on a scrap piece of paper to get a feeling of how much pressure is required on the craft knife. All that is required is like a ‘light scratch’ so the paper will fold in a clean and sharp bend, but not to cut through the paper completely.

Figure AI17 – Score lines are made on the reverse of the image
Figure AI17 – Score lines are made on the reverse of the image

This author found that after the small guide cuts are made in the paper, the lines to be scored are drawn on the reverse side as shown in Figure AI18.

Figure AI18 – Guide cuts seen on the reverse side of the image
Figure AI18 – Guide cuts seen on the reverse side of the image

Figure AI3 is carefully cut-out, and the parts which require creasing are bent according to Figure AI17. Note, the crease for the TAB is scored on the image side as this will be eventually cut away. The TAB is used for locating the image on the wooden base as illustrated in Figure AI20 and Figure AI23.

Figure AI19 – Image of Writing Desk cut out and bent as required
Figure AI19 – Image of Writing Desk cut out and bent as required

As stated previously, the wooden base for the writing desk is adjusted to fit the image. The TAB is used to locate the image on the wooden base between the two front feet, and is fixed to the base by means of ‘TAMIYA’ masking tape as illustrated in Figure AI23. The printed image will require a certain amount of handing, and this author found it became a little ‘soiled’ and bent around the edges. To overcome this cut-out two images, one to initially fit around the wooden base, and then the second to actually glue on, Figure AI20.

Figure AI20 – Wooden base adjusted
Figure AI20 – Wooden base adjusted

Note: - The end patterns with the feet are each 1.5mm thick and the width of the feet need to be reduced by 0.5mm either side to fit the image. This author took this from the inside however, if the ends need to sanded or a combination of the two it will depend on how the image fits onto the wooden base.

To aid gluing the image to the wooden base a toothpick was temporarily fitted into its base as illustrated in Figure AI21, but note the toothpick is NOT glued into the base! The toothpick this author used required a 2mm hole, but this will vary depending upon the toothpick used.

Figure AI21 – Hole drilled for toothpick
Figure AI21 – Hole drilled for toothpick

When using the EVO-STIK only apply a thin even layer on the surface to be glued and allow a few minutes to become a little ‘tacky’. This will prevent the glue from softening the paper too much and risk tearing when laying it down (as experienced by this author).

After having located the image with the TAB, the front of the desk is glued as illustrated in Figure AI22.

Figure AI22 – The image is first glued to the front of the Writing Desk
Figure AI22 – The image is first glued to the front of the Writing Desk

This author continued to glue following the same technique in the following sequence; angled front, horizontal top and then the two sides. To ensure that the image was firmly pushed against the wooden base a fine sponge was used as illustrated in Figure AI23. This minimises the potential of dirty fingers spoiling the glued image of the Writing Desk; the TAB is carefully cutaway.

 

Figure AI23 – Sequence of gluing image to wooden base
Figure AI23 – Sequence of gluing image to wooden base

Figure AI24 is the image for the back of the Writing Desk and is printed to a scale 1:1. Link to print page here

Figure AI24 – Image for the back of Writing Desk
Figure AI24 – Image for the back of Writing Desk

The image for the Desk back will need to be adjusted adjusted so it will cover the back exactly. As described previously for the front image, the TAB locates the image between the two back feet and it can be seen if the image will need to be reduced or enlarged in specific direction. To reduce it the amount required, this can be carefully cut of off however, if it needs to be enlarged please follow Figures AH10 to AH12 in the Sea Chest Guidance (Sea Chest Link)

Once ready, the tab is secured to the base with masking tape as illustrated in Figure AI23, and EVO-STIK is evenly applied to the back of the wooden base with a paint brush, Figure AI25.

Figure AI25 – Image glued to the back of the wooden base
Figure AI25 – Image glued to the back of the wooden base

The edge of the paper images are white and these will be seen on the finished Writing Desk however, a “Conté à Paris Pencil – Sepia 617” can be used to blend the white edges in with the brown image as illustrated in Figure AI26.

Figure AI26 – White paper edges blended in with the brown image
Figure AI26 – White paper edges blended in with the brown image.

The Writing Desk is then varnished; initially it was given a coat of Matt Flat Varnish, but then it was suggested that it should be a little more glossy, so a coat of Satin Matt Varnish was applied and it looked better, FigureAI28.

Next, the bottom of the Writing Desk will need to be painted with a colour that is close to the overall image colour. This author used a mix of ‘Humbrol’ Acrylic 20 with a touch of ‘Admiralty Paints’ Matt (metal) Black however, different paints could be used providing they produce a similar colour, Figure AI27. When the paint has dried, the bottom of the feet will need to be reduced in height and this is achieved by gently drawing the Writing Desk across 800 GRIT (FINE) wet & dry paper, Figure AI27.

Figure AI27 – Bottom of Writing Desk painted and the feet sanded
Figure AI27 – Bottom of Writing Desk painted and the feet sanded

The finished dimensions of the writing Desk shown in Figure AI28 are: -
Dimensions = overall height x depth x width x height to fall of desk
1:64 scale = 16.8mm x 8.9mm x 16.1mm x 12mm

Figure AI28 – Completed Writing Desk
Figure AI28 – Completed Writing Desk

Figure AI29 illustrates the Writing Desk loosely in position in the Great Cabin

Figure AI29 – The Writing Desk loosely placed in the Great Cabin
Figure AI29 – The Writing Desk loosely placed in the Great Cabin

Lloyd Matthews – March 2019 ©

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