Westville: Shingles

The Westville kit comes with shingles in sheets. An advantage is adding the shingles in strips instead of individually. The disadvantage is punching out the strips. Challenging!

While the shingles are still in the sheet, I ran a piece of masking tape across the top of each row, then punched them out of the sheet (tore them out, wrestled them out, however you want to put it).

Guidelines are a good idea, and help keep the rows straight. First row is 1 3/8″ from the edge. The rest of the rows are 3/4″ a part.

Strips are hot-glued in place. Once dry, masking tape gets removed.

The next row is glued on, the shingles staggered (this means at the end of every other row, you have to do a half shingle to keep everything on track).

I used hot glue, because any water-based glue (tacky, Elmer’s, etc), will make these very thin wooden shingles curl. Another, non-water-based glue would be fine I think.

If shingles overhang the edges, that’s ok–they can be trimmed off later.

To cut the shingles to fit the angle of the gable, I made a template out of paper.

This serves as a gauge to cut the shingles to the correct angle.

Using the gauge ensures the end of the row will fit. I did a template for the front roof too.

The nice thing is, the templates I used for the front worked on the back roof angles as well.

All shingles in place, and ragged edges trimmed off. Whew!

The shingles looked a little too bright for me. I debated what to do … Stain? Paint? Dirty-water wash? I feared loosening the shingles with too much water or stain.

I dabbed on a little stain on one shingle–way too dark!

Then it hit me–instead of brushing stain on and wiping off, how about if I wipe the stain off the brush and sort of dry-brush the shingles?

Used a foam brush, stain, and lots of paper towels. Dipped foam brush lightly into stain can and then wiped of a *lot* of the stain from the foam brush.

I started with a downward stroke, then later stroked upward to make the edges of each shingle more defined.

The stain gives it a weathered look.

This is the result. I got some darker blotches I don’t like, which I will tone down with a wash or something, but I like how it turned out. In keeping with the “rustic” feel of the house.

I learned some new techniques with this roof–shingling in strips and dry brushing with stain.

I want to use trim to finish some of the roof’s raw edges, fill in the channel between the front and left roof angle, and do some kind of ridge pole, but the roof is just about done.

With that, the exterior is finished. I will next paint / paper / floor in the interior, figure out what lights I want where, and trim the interior. The kit has trim for the bay windows and the main windows, which I’ll paint and install after I’ve papered and painted.

The last project in the kit is the railing for the stairs and the second floor bannister. I’ll do those after I put in the floors.

Then I’ll start moving in all the antiques! (And at some point do the landscaping).

I might take a little break first. My goal was to get the kit mostly done–now I get to play a little!

Westville: Chimney, Door, Closet


Note that the written instructions for the chimney are right, but the line drawing shows it glued together wrong. I’ll demonstrate the right way.

The nine pieces that make up the chimney.

The line drawing shows the slanted sides glued so that the long edge is against the front (the long rectangle), but if it’s glued that way, the chimney top (with the hole in it), won’t fit. The correct way is that the two slanted sides enclose the back and front rectangles; that is, the sides go on top of the back and front. You get a long, narrow box.

Also make sure that the side with the jagged slant goes on the LEFT side of the long rectangle.

This is the piece that will go in the slot of the roof, so it needs to be on the left of the finished chimney.

I found it easier to glue three of the sides together, put in the top piece, and then glue the fourth side on. That way I knew exactly how the top fitted in.

The chimney top is set in about 1/4″ from the edges.

The main pieces glued together.


The four trim pieces glued around the end. I of course couldn’t make mine fit exactly (two shorts are supposed to rest against ends of the two long pieces. I filled in the gaps with wood filler, sanded, and painted. (The trim pieces are glued about 1/8 of an inch from the edge).

The finished, painted chimney (upside down).

The finished chimney in place.

Front Door

The front door is three pieces sandwiched together, with the “glass” in the middle.

Decided on burnt orange for the outside, over stain in the middle (the opposite of the shutters). The interior side of the door is ivory.

For fun, on the interior, I thought I’d add wallpaper to show through the panels.

The interior side of the door glued in place, with the plastic sheet in the middle.

Here’s where the door will go. My front wall came apart when I punched it out, so I’ll have to replace a part of the wall above the door. Or I might go with a transom.

I won’t put the door in until I’m finished wallpapering / painting the interior.


The closet under the stairs is nicely versatile.

Parts for the closet from left to right: Door, door trim, closet wall, closet ceiling.

The closet set in place (not glued yet). I went with simple white walls and door for now.

The neat thing is, you can have the door closed, or you can glue it partway open to reveal a closet under the stairs, or you can hinge it to make a working door to the closet.

I have not yet decided whether to have the door closed to make a closet filled with antiquey clutter. If so, I will want a light in there so the things can be seen. My tape runs through it, so it’s ready for lights.

If you go with showing the closet, make sure to paint / stain or otherwise finish the backside of the stairs and the inside of the staircase wall (I did not, so I’ll have to stick my paintbrush in there to finish it before I turn it into a closet).

Next–Shingles! And that’s pretty much it for the exterior.

Westville: A look at the interior

Before I continue with the chimney and door (and shingles), I wanted to look at the interior and its possibilities.

Now that the roof is on, it’s easier to see what we have to work with.

Front / entrance room. Nice space with recessed bay window.

Other downstairs room (there’s only two). This room is fairly large. If I were doing a conventional house rather than a shop, I might put a partition wall crosswise somewhere in here, making a front room and a back room. The windows are large enough that the interior can be seen through them.

Upstairs room where staircase comes out. Again, this room is deep, like the one below it. If I were doing a regular house, I might put a wall across and the bathroom behind it, visible through the front windows.

The upstairs room above the entrance. A cozy space.

The attic is fairly large, with a T-shape that covers the entire width and depth of the house.

While the attic is too short for big furniture (or in-scale people–it’s about 4-5 inches from floor to ceiling), I can see putting tons of accessories, chairs, stools, and “discards” from the rest of the house up here. Or, in my antique shop, special bargain finds!

Next time, I’ll show the chimney, front door, and under-stairs closet, and then tackle the shingling.

Almost done!

Westville: Shutters

So many shutters! Every window gets a set, even each bay window. That’s nine windows, meaning 18 shutters to make.

Narrow shutters go around left side windows and bay windows. Larger shutters are for double windows on the second floor (one pair each). There is a shorter pair for the porch window.

I sealed the wood of the shutter backs with shellac, as I wanted to paint them. Shutter frames will be stained, so I don’t seal those (Minwax stain is great for sealing and staining at the same time).

The wood on the “good” side of a couple of my shutter frames was bad and beat up–even before I punched it out of the sheet. I am turning those over and using the “bad” side, which looks much better.


The shutters are easy to assemble. One frame goes over one back. Simple. I went with burnt orange on the shutter backs to lend color to the house, matching the gable trim.

I’m finding that old-fashioned wooden clothespins make terrific clamps.

Finished shutter is glued on the edges of the windows. Bottom rests on the window sill.

On the bay windows, the shutters that butt together cover the entire side of their window frames. Only way they fit.

Below–photos of the finished shutters in place.

The stonework and stain give this a kind of Olde Worlde feel, which is fine for the antique shop I’m planning. But I can picture this house sided and painted in pastel colors, like a painted lady, either as a bakery or shop or cute cottage. Many possibilities!

Next is the chimney, front door, and under-stairs closet, then I start shingling! (yuck)

Westville: Gable Trim

The gable trim consists of two pairs of long pieces for the front and right gables, and a long and short piece for the back gable.

Notice that for the long pieces, each gable will have a long piece and one slightly shorter piece. This is because the slightly shorter piece butts against the long one.

I chose to paint these burnt orange (toned down with a light wash of stain) for a pop of color on my brown and white house.

The trim gets glued flat against the underside of the roof piece.

None of my pieces met at the peaks as they were supposed to because my roof never fit exactly right. That’s ok; I can cover that up later.

Next, the verge boards. Two sets of long and one short.

The verge boards stained and ready to go.

I found it was easier to glue them together at the top first (as the instructions indicate). The top of the pieces form a heart. Once they are thoroughly dry, it’s easier to position them on the house.


The verge boards go behind the trim pieces.

The verge boards give the house a cute, gingerbread look.

Next come the many, many shutters!

Westville: A Roof and a Floor

Because the attic will be much enclosed by the roof, I wanted to finish the attic floor and walls (including the windows) before I put the roof on. Much easier to do it while the attic is exposed.

I didn’t use the siding that came with the house, so I have this pile of very thin wood strips lying around. I decided to use them to make the attic floor. Why not?

Above, I’ve started laying out the strips and cutting them to fit.

I glued the strips in with hot glue to avoid warpage and then finished them with shellac.

The floor turned out so well I might use the wood strips on other floors in the house.

Time for the roof.

There are only four roof pieces. Here I’ve painted the undersides (which will show inside the house). The big piece is the left side. Slim L shape is the back. The piece propped behind that is the front left roof, and the larger piece behind that the front.

By the way, I sealed all the roof pieces with shellac before I painted to prevent warping.

I’m finding I like shellac as a sealer–I didn’t know it was a wood sealer before I took a class on finishing (I thought it just made things shiny). It can be diluted 50/50 with denatured alcohol. I used it straight from the can and that’s working well.

I fitted the roof on before I glued it. This is the left side piece.

Notice that one slot is very long, longer than the wall tab:

The chimney will go in the lower half of the slot.

Front left roof piece on.

Front piece.

Back piece in place.

Once I figured out how everything fit together, I glued it all in place. I did have to sand some of the tabs and use a round file on the slots before it went together smoothly.

With this step, the basic structure of the house is done. The rest is trimming.

From here on, the choice of finishing outside or inside first is up to you. I’m going to plow on through the instructions to the end.

Next time: The gable trim, and then the shutters.

Westville: Porch and bay balconies

The balconies that go on top of the porch and each of the bay windows are fairly easy.

Pieces for the porch balcony. Note that while the instructions say there are “wide” posts and “narrow” posts (see eight pieces in back), the posts are all the same size. I checked and double checked. The layout sheet doesn’t differentiate the sizes. I suspect they were made all the same size but the instructions never got changed.

Anyway: Three posts go on the front of the front fence. One each on the front of the two side fences.

One post goes on the back middle, and one each on an end of the back of the left and right sides.

The instructions are a bit unclear as to whether the post ends of the sides go against the front fence while the bare backs are against the house … like this (above).

Or whether the posts were on the ends (below)

I decided I liked the posts at the ends–looks more finished. Here I’ve glued the fences together and upside down on the L shaped railing.

The porch balcony in place on top of the porch.

Bay window trim and balconies were easier.

Left: The balcony pieces. Right: Trim for the top of the bay windows.

I debated whether to use the trim over the top of the bay windows, with the stucco, but I thought, what the heck. Here it is stained and glued on.

The balcony pieces stained and glued upside down onto the V-shaped railing.

Front bay balcony and porch balcony in place.

Side bay balcony finished.

Next step is the roof!

Westville: Stonework Painting

After making sure the paperclay was thoroughly dry and gaps filled in, I started painting the stonework foundation by giving it several dirty gray water washes.

The wash is mostly water with two drops of hippo gray and one drop of black. I went over the stone work three or four times with this, letting it dry between washes. Gradually building up a base of very light gray.

Next I started painting in colors, keeping the paint very watery.

I used Burnt Umber, Hippo Gray, with a touch of Black Green. I later added a color called Latte (which looks like very milky coffee).

I added the colors one at a time: First wetting the brush, dabbing in paint, wetting brush again, dabbing off excess on waxed paper, and then applying that color to individual stones, choosing them at random. I didn’t so much carefully paint each stone as simply dab dab dab with the brush (sometimes more like smoosh smoosh smoosh).

If any one stone color seemed too dark, I’d rinse the brush and use the dirty water to tone it down.

I did a lot of trial and error, wiping off with a paper towel before it dried if I really didn’t like the result.

I went over the stones I’d say four or five times until I liked the look. I still might go back over them and smooth out the colors, making sure none of the white shows through.

It was fun to experiment. The house is taking on a rustic, old-world feel, but that’s fine as I’m doing an antique shop.

Now that the foundation is done and the porch is finished, the rest is going pretty quickly and easily. Next, the bay trim and balconies, then it’s time for the roof.

Westville: Porch

I worked on the porch while I waited for the paperclay stonework to thoroughly dry. I’ll show the porch build here and then how I painted the stonework next time.

The many pieces of the front porch: Railings, trim pieces, and columns.

I roughed out how everything will go. There are lot of similar pieces, so it’s a good idea to figure out what goes where before the glueing starts.

Pieces stained and sorted into their respective places. On the left, pieces of the main front railings and columns; on the right, the right side railing; bottom, the left railings / trim which will go on the top and bottom of the left side of the porch.

Long piece gets glued horizontally to the top of the front railing piece.

Adding the front posts. The layout sheets specify “left front post, middle front post, right front post” but I couldn’t find any difference in shape–they looked interchangeable to me. If there are differences, they are too subtle to matter.

However, the front and back posts are different. Front have shorter top parts, and backs have big slots for the left and right railings, as in the pic below.

Back posts affixed to the back.

Right railing slides into slot made by back post.

Left railing will fit here.

Right side porch pieces.

As on the front, the horizontal trim goes on top, flush with top and right side.

Right side posts added.

Left side posts are simple, front and back.

Top and bottom railings on the right porch side. The front and left sides are similar.

Front goes on first. I had to do some sanding to get the posts into the holes, and to even out the top so it fit under the porch roof.

Right side fits against front porch piece, into the slot created by the back post.


Left side pieces, top and bottom.

Better shot of the top left piece.

Finished porch.

Next time, the stonework gets painted.

Projects: Veneered box and Dora’s Little Loft

I want to share two little projects I did when the Westville grew too frustrating, and then I’ll turn back to the Westville build.

First, I finished up the box I started in the class with Geoff Wonnacott in Chicago.

I added the hinges myself, plus all the filigree and lock. Papered the inside of the box and then finished the outside with shellac.

The hinge pins were long pieces of wire snipped as close to the hinge as possible and then ground down with a Dremel. I was amazed at how well that worked! New techniques to know.

The second fun project is a kit called Dora’s Little Loft–almost 360 degrees different from the box above.

This is a kit by a Chinese company called Robo Time, which specializes in 3D puzzles and miniature scenes. I’ve seen these kits in various catalogs that come through my house (like Acorn and others), and I purchased this one because it was just cute.

It has a retro feel and is very colorful. The kit contains *everything* in the room–you make all kinds of accessories and little decorative objects, all out of paper, wood, wire, clay, and findings and beads.

Everything here I made from the bits of wire, paper, and fabric in the kit. It’s cleverly put together, even if some of the accessories are a little fiddly.

A tip: Superglue (krazy glue with brush applicator) saves a lot of grief when working with the projects made of wire.

I can put together another post with tips and tricks on this build.

Meanwhile, here’s details of the finished piece.

I used my own pink fabric for the chair, but everything else came from the kit (they include the chair’s fabric, but I liked my color better.)

I chose this kit instead of the plant shop, because I didn’t want to make so many plants. Ha! This one has 19 different potted plants, plus the rose vine and a tree! I cut out many leaves …

I love the details of the cat’s food bowl, milk, and enclosed litter box.

The light fixture with led light and battery box is included–battery box is hidden in a niche beneath the scene. It was one of the easiest lighting hookups I’ve done.

Scale? It’s sort of 1/2 inch, sort of 1 inch. It’s not really exact. But it looks fine. The finished scene is about 8 inches x 10 inches, maybe 10 inches high.

I enjoyed this kit so much (when not cursing at it), that I looked to see what else they had.

HBS (miniatures.com) has four–this one (Dora’s Loft), the plant shop, a kitchen, and a mini camper (I like that one and might get it too).

I searched Robo Time’s website for more, and there are many more. A bookstore, a coffee house, a porch, other shops, all kinds of them. I purchased another one–a music studio–because I play guitar and piano, and it looks cool.

You can purchase directly from Robo Time–they have a U.S. warehouse, so the shipping is from the U.S. (and shipping is free if you spend about $50). They’re also sold through other retailers, and Amazon. Prices are cheapest at the Robo Time site or HBS (miniatures.com)

Anyway, a fun little interlude before I got back to the Westville.

Next post–Westville porch, bay windows, and starting the roof.