Sunday, January 30, 2011

Your First Laser Kit 01 - Basic Barn Kit - Prepping for Assembly

A clinic that I've conducted several times is the Build a Barn or Barnstorming Clinic.  This is an introduction to building a simple laser cut kit.  These kits, like any others, have their quirks.  I'm not a big fan of laser kits, but they are VERY popular and reasonable priced.

 I used to use these barn kits from Mountaineer Precision Products (MPP) but they are not in business due to an illness of some sort.  I've not been able to buy them for clinics so I finally begged my friend Howard Garner of Cascade Western Laser to produce a similar kit.

Cascade Western Laser sent me the prototype kit, so you and I are going to put it together AND debug the kit at the same time.  I've done quite a few kit reviews and they are fun.  Usually I charge for this, depending on the value of the kit and whether I keep it or have to send it back.  First I look at the overall packaging.  I made a few notes on a Word Document that I'll send back to the manufacturer.

The picture is kind of blurry, so I'll make a note about that.  You always need a clear picture of the finished model, and I prefer a color shot.

 Here is how the back of the kit looked.  Unlike the MPP kit this one has shingles instead of a tin roof.  I much prefer the tin roof and will probably go get some Campbell material for this barn.  To me the roof just needs RUST!

The first step is to remove the pieces and to check for missing parts.  BE VERY CAREFULL pulling out the pieces as they may fall out or break.

 Here is the barn side sheet.  The cutting is very nice and sharp.  The tabs are quite thin, which is a problem for how I assemble the kit, but may be ok for those that don't like to hack away with a hobby knife.  I usually paint while on the master sheet as it reduces warping.

 Here is the roof sheet with a handy pointing arrow that shows you how the shingles/tar paper goes.  The solid area that holds the part in the "tree" or sheet is called the fret.

 The trim is very well done with super sharp cuts.  Be very careful with this piece so that you don't break any of the beams.

 The 3M backing is a peel and stick adhesive backing and is the best quality you can get.

 The shingles are paper with adhesive backing and are white.  I'd prefer a black shingle, but we'll see how it paints out.

The instructions are simple with no drawings.  Each step is laid out and I READ THE DIRECTIONS BEFORE I START.  Yes, you should too!  Resist the urge to jump ahead of this step!

 I always check the parts list if the instructions have them...and these do.  Make sure that each piece is here.

One thing you need to know about laser kits.  The wood is a laminated collection of cross grained sheets just like plywood.  Unlike plywood solvents and water will delaminate the sheets and cause the wood to fall apart. I always seal the wood because paints will cause warpage or delamination.  There is a difference between paint and sealant.  Paint does not seal against moisture, but sealant will.  I'm going to lightly spray two coats of Krylon Sealant on EACH SIDE of each piece, except for the adhesive backed items.  All of the parts are laid in a tray along with the mast head so that I can carry them to the garage for painting.  NEVER USE SOLVENT PAINTS IN AN UNVENTILATED AREA!

This is Krylon Crystal Clear sealant with Satin Finish.  I like the satin finish because it is a bit rough like a fine sandpaper and the texture grabs and holds paints and weathering pigments very well.  I don't use Testor's Dull Coat because it soaks quickly into the wood and causes delaminating.  Shake this thoroughly before using and put on safety glasses and a breathing mask.

 You don't want to paint the peel and stick side, so set this part aside for last.

 With all the parts turned over, spray a LIGHT COAT....for those of you in Rio means LIGHT COAT.  If you soak these parts they will warp or delaminate!!!

 Give it some time to dry and turn it over.  Spray another light coat on the finished side being sure not to get any drips.  Repeat these steps twice on each side.  This will give you a good protective coating to prevent damage from painting.

 The trim piece will need to be sprayed twice and VERY lightly each time to prevent damage.

 I let the fumes evaporate for a while and then brought the pieces back down to the shop.

 The roof piece was slightly warped from the very beginning.  This is common with laser kits and it can be easily fixed.  Just always remember to fix it AFTER you have sealed it.

Using my handy slab of 1/4 inch glass plate, I just lay it under the glass and we'll give it 24 hours to flatten out and dry thoroughly.

If you would like a kit for yourself or some for a clinic that you want to give, you can order them from:

Cascade Western Laser
PO Box 826
Pickens, SC 29671-0826

They are $17.95 each plus shipping

Next...we paint!

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