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My Miniature Process Part 2: Wood and Tools

In this entry, I’m highlighting a few tools I use to create the parts I mentioned in my previous post. When I first made a number of miniatures 25 years ago, I was limited to only what wood was available from Micro Mark and other suppliers, such as walnut, mahogany, cherry and basswood. And they usually only came in a few thicknesses.

Now, I can use any wood in my stockpile of exotic woods. To begin, make sure the piece is perfectly flat:

Then I move to my bandsaw:

Then to my MicroLux drum thickness sander:

This is a great tool, but it takes a lot of maintenance and careful handling to produce wood good enough for miniature projects. For the current one I needed wood in .0325, .04, .0625, .08, .09375 and .125 inch thickness. For anyone who may consider using this drum sander for their own projects, the best advice I have is the longer the wood you have to feed through. the better. Having one smooth side is very important to getting good results. After each time I slice wood on the bandsaw I make sure to put it back through the planer before the next cut. Generally I have to feed the wood through the drum sander 5 to 10 times to get just the right thickness.

I do most of my cutting on my homemade CNC machine, which I’ll get to in another post, but when I don’t want to bother with two sided jobs I turn to this:

That’s a Dremel drill press which I’ve modified with a 3D printed mount for a Proxxon rotary tool and an XY table to use as a milling machine. I wouldn’t try using it to mill metals (I have a real milling machine for that) but it works fine for wood and doesn’t weigh 20 pounds.

I have power tools for just about any kind of work, but perhaps the most useful tool I have for miniatures is this humble “True Sander” I purchased from Micro Mark almost 30 years ago:

It’s the absolutely best way to precisely size parts and ensure they are perfectly square.

And here I have arrived at finishing the first two parts for my next piece, a couple of raised panels and the shelf they will attach to: