The Engagement House Build
How the house came to be
After I built the Engagement ring presentation box with the four locks and engraving, I have had many requests for something similar. This is the latest request and next week’s build. My client is taking his girlfriend for a weekend getaway at a little Bed and Breakfast where he plans to propose.
This little house is how he is going to present the ring, and is modeled after the Bed and Breakfast.
He plans to incorporate the house into a game of sorts. When he is ready to present the ring the window on top will be removed to reveal the key hole. (The window will be held on with a magnet to hide the key hole.) The roof will be hinged to access the ring once the house is unlock.
The house itself will be painted white, the windows black, and the roof will be cut form rough sawn cedar to resemble an actual shake roof.
Rough Cuts and Locks
I started out by rough cutting the pieces to size. The pieces in the picture are a little wider than needed, I will cut them to exact size as I put them together to be sure everything lines up, especially the lines that simulate the siding.
To create the simulated siding look involved some math and trial and error on a test piece to be sure it would line up all the way around the house. Once I got the layout figured out, I set my table saw blade so it would only cut about a 1/8 inch deep and the started cutting the lines. After a little sanding, it will have a nice effect.
Before final assembly of the house, I need to install the lock, which was the smallest jewelry box lock I could find. I was going to cut the slot out with my router, but decided by the time I set up the bit and some kind of stop block or jig to guide the router; it would just be easier and faster to just cut out by hand. I made a center mark and traced the lock onto the board with my marking knife, and chiseled it out.
Glue Up and Dormer Assembly
Even though I ordered the smallest lock I could find, the width is still wider than the inside of the house walls. To make it fit I cut a small notch for the flange of the lock to slide into. To cut the slot I found one of my handsaws had the same kerf as the thickness for the flange. One cut on each adjoining wall was that was needed to make room for the lock.
Finding the angle to cut the dormer to match the pitch of the roof on the main house has been the most difficult part of this build. It took a little bit of trial and error but I finally got it to fit tight. I`m using my miter clamp to hold it in place until the glue dries, the painters tape just wasn’t doing the job.
Simulated Windows and Trim
I spent this week working on the windows with wood trim. To make the windows with simulated trim along the side, I took a 1/4″ thick piece of 1” wide stock and ran the center over my dado blade creating a 3/4″ wide grove down the middle. This grove is what created the simulated wood trim along the side of the window. The Dado Blade did not leave a smooth surface so I used a rabbet plane to smooth out the grove.
At this point, the windows where too small to safely cut with any type of power tool so I used a handsaw against a shooting board to cut the pieces to length.
To create the bottom sill, and the top sash of the window I used my router to cut a cove down the length of a board. I used my tables saw to rip the cove down its final width and back to the shooting board to cut to length. Once they were cut to length, it would be too difficult to hold onto such a small piece and pass if over the router, so I shaped the ends by hand with a rasp.
As far as parts left to cut out, all that is left is the corner trim on the house itself. I used a ½” thick piece of wood wider than I needed so I could use my dado blade in the table saw to safely cut a 3/8” grove in the back. I then switched back to my normal blade and cut the trim free from the larger piece. Doing it this way was much safer and resulted in a cleaner cut than trying to cut a grove in a smaller piece of wood. For added Safety I used my Bench Dog Feather Board.
At this point the house in nearly done, and just needed a few finishing touches. The area where the ring will be presented was a bit of a challenge. Cutting the top board to fit exactly the shape of the walls was the plan, but after I thought about it, I determined there was a problem with this. The horizontal grain direction on the top board would expand and contract at a different rate than the vertical side walls of the house possible opening up gaps.
Then I had a problem with the end grain of the sidewalls meeting the top. I just didn’t like the look of it. I wanted the look of the top board to be one piece so it did not detract from the beauty of the engagement ring. To achieve this I glued the top board a 1/16th of an inch below the surface of the sidewalls and poured epoxy filler over the top. Once dried it filled in any void between the sidewalls and the top board. To deal with the rough end grain I rubbed auto body filler on the ends and sanded to 600 grit to smooth out the ends. Once painted the same color, it will look like one piece.
To create the roof, I stood a cedar fence board on end and ran it through the table saw, a 1/16th of an inch from the fence. To cut the shingles to length, I went back to my shooting board and handsaw. To attach them to the roof top, I used a combination of wood glue and hot glue.
My client sent me a picture of the sign in front of the Hopkins Ordinary bed and breakfast, to see if I could replicate it. We decided to leave off the scroll embellishment on the bottom of the sign, but other than that it is a pretty close replica. I was able to replicate the post and sign right down to the same font they used for the lettering.
Watch it in action.
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