Friday, August 3, 2018

"Too hip to be square?... Nope, that not be us!"

Has it really been a year? Well, it has been a rough one for our family, but nevertheless, I simply cannot let the Old Main Line reach "one year ago" on the blog list. So without further ado, allow me to actually post something that has been sitting offline in my drafts folder for quite sometime.

The Garden State Division of the NMRA has conducted several meets featuring "works in progress" or WIPs that have been very popular for both clinicians and attendees. The low key, informal setting is relaxing for the clinician and extremely engaging for the attendee. A real win-win as they say.
Craig Bisgeier did a nice clinic on tools and techniques for kitbashing and scratchbuilding. But what really captured everyone's attention was the sanding square that he built to guarantee clean,  square  edges for cut materials.

The sanding jig is about 15" square and is predominantly made of 1/2" MDF. It relies on a glued block as a stop, or fence, set at a 90 degree angle to a sliding sander.

The H-shaped sliding sander sits inside a double track that is routed out of the MDF to guarantee an even, consistent sanding to the 90 degree fence.

Like an excited schoolboy at 3 pm, I dashed right home and built my own with a few modest variations in overall size and features using the same 1/2" MDF material. It's 12" square so I could maximize the use of a 24" x 48" piece of MDF.

Rather than routing out the MDF, I simply used two layers overall to create the tracks. All of the MDF pieces were glued and screwed together for a really strong and rigid bond. Plus I preferred the extra heft that the additional layering gave me for added stability.

I used double sided tape to hold the sandpaper to the slider and actually used two different grades on the two sides for added flexibility.

While squaring up corners is crucial in modeling structures, my main use will be in butting together multiple side pieces since I am replicating three major mill structures that require multiple kits to be kitbashed.

Since this was a relatively easy task, and since I had an excess of clear pine from assorted benchwork adventures, I decided to mass produce a dozen 8" x 8" sanding jigs. I used the leftover 1/2" MDF as a base and 3/4" clear pine for the sander and fence. In a moment of sheer madness, I gifted them to my fellow GSD board members as a gesture of kindness.

Even made a few for lefthanded modelers. We're a full service that aims to please!

The underside shows the screw placement to hold the double layer. The four corner self-adhesive bumpers are reinforced with a dab of Goo for better adhesion.

I believe that there are similar jigs available commercially, and knowing Craig, he probably just wanted to save a few bucks while sticking it to the man. But one must admit, it's a neat, little project. I'm considering a few options on how best to build a second sanding slider that will give me a 45 degree angle for corners.

But that's it for now. Back to life's challenges. My hope is to have some energy to more regularly update this blog, because although postings have seriously lagged, work on the layout has only modestly been affected. Later!


We may live just 25 miles from the media capital of the world, but the editors of a local monthly may want to work on tweaking some of their headlines. Duh!... ya think?


  1. Glad to see you back posting...George Dutka

    1. Thanks, George... so am I, I think... apologies for the delay in replying, but as Pierre Oliver recently wrote, Google has messed around with notifications without notifying users! ... anyway, I may have lagged on my end, but I always kept up with your blog... I have considered utilizing some of your ideas like shorter, more frequent posts, as well as guest posts... we'll see.