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Small crates and tea chests


Mikkel

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I’ve been making my own crates and tea chests from printable veneer. Today I installed them in the goods depot at Farthing.

 

 

 

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The mezzanine floor at Farthing was used as a storage facility. Traders could have their wares stored while awaiting dispatch and distribution.

 

 

 

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Space was literally at a premium, and this floor was always tidier and more well organised than the busy decks below.

 

 

 

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Farthing wasn’t far from Britain’s first Nestlé factory, built at Chippenham in 1873 for the manufacture of condensed milk.

 

 

 

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This part of the goods depot was inspired by the balcony floor at Hockley Goods, which seems to have been used for similar purposes.

 

 

The following is a description of how the crates were made, summarized from the workbench thread:

 

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I like the smallish wooden crates that could be seen in goods depots before cardbox boxes became common. So I began by designing a few of these. The top one above is photoshopped from a pic of an original Nestlé crate. The rest are tongue in cheek :)

 

 

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I wanted to capture that light wooden look of a new crate, and wasn’t quite happy with the texture of ordinary paper. After searching the web I came across these veneer sheets intended for creative photo printing. I bought mine from Crafty Computer Paper (no connection).

 

 

 

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It’s important to note that these sheets only work with top loaded ink-jet printers. They will jam if you use a printer where the paper bends over on itself. I have a cheap top loaded Canon IP2850 printer, which cost about 30£ a year ago (colour cartridge included). It does take the sheets, although each sheet needs to be pressed down gently when the rollers try to “grab” it. I would be weary to do this on a high-end printer!

 

 

 

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Test prints suggest that the wood effect is pretty much as I had hoped. The lettering comes out OK I think, although I’m sure a more expensive printer could give an even better result.

 

 

 

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The veneer sheets can be cut fairly easily with a normal scalpel.

 

 

 

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I've experimented with two different ways of building the crates. The first and most laborious method is to cut out each side separately, and glue them on a block of laminated plastic rod as seen above.

 

 

 

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This method gives a fairly neat final appearance, as seen above. This pic also shows the texture of the veneer, and how the different shades of the sheets can be used to add subtle variety: The ones on the left are from one sheet, the ones on the right from another.

 

 

 

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A quicker method is to cut each crate out in one piece, and lightly scribe the rear of the veneer at the corners with the back of a thick scalpel blade (a sharp scalpel or deep cut will break the veneer). The crate can then be folded and glued with a good quality card glue or similar. You inevitably get a light tear at the corners though - so this method is best for crates that aren't seen close up.

 

 

 

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I've made rows of stacked crates by glueing individual sides to the front of a long block of laminated styrene strips, as seen above. Saves time, and can't be seen once completed.

 

 

 

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The fake rows can then be stacked and glued or just blu-tacked together.

 

 

 

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The tea chests are based on real ones but photoshopped to fit my setting and period.

 

 

 

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The metal edges on the "East India" one didn't really come across as I hoped in the printing...

 

 

 

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... so thanks to Dave and other RMwebbers I tried using the dull side of foil for the metal edges. I cut the foil in strips and then fixed it with card glue to one side first. It can then be bent around the edge and stuck to the other side.

 

 

 

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It’s worth the effort to spend some time cleaning up the edges afterwards. With a ruler and sharp scalpel, edges can be trimmed straighter and narrower as required. The superfluous foil can be scraped off leaving no visible mark. Small problem areas can be fixed with a quick lick of metallic paint. The veneer is very forgiving, so paint can also be scraped off if necessary.

 

 

 

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The crates are strenghtened inside like this.

 

 

 

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The tea chests represent different types and sizes, some with metal sides and some without. Judging by photos I have seen, the metal edges don't seem to have been common until the 1920s or so.

 

 

 

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As mentioned earlier, the sheet itself is quite forgiving and glue and paint can be scraped off without leaving much trace. The lettering is another matter. The print on the right has been treated to a light coat of Vallejo matt varnish!

 

 

 

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Finally a comparison between a veneer crate, an earlier paper-printed effort (right) and a parcel made from Manilla envelope paper. The crate has that nice and square look.

 

Thanks to all who have helped and contributed to this little project, see the discussion in the workbench thread for more ideas and suggestions.

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44 Comments


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Hi Mike, plastic erasers - well no one can say railway modelling isn't a creative hobby! I'll see if I can find a plastic eraser to test it out on. Sounds very rubbery :-)

 

I commented further on your Workbench thread because it's easier to add a photo there!

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Hi Mike, thanks for that, another useful tip!

 

To add photos in Blog comments, the pic has to be on the web. The I just right click it, click copy image, and then right click in the blog comment to insert it directly, eg here is your photo from the thread:

 

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Thanks. Here's another possible subject - they all seem to represent companies that later became multinationals!

 

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...and a rather nice one for the US modellers:

 

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But I think these highly decorated ones may have been retailer's crates, and probably wouldn't have appeared in a goods depot?

 

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They are great Job, good find! I hope we'll see them on Northall. 

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Thanks Sweven. The tea chests do work well with the veneer I think. I have a feeling some tea chests were varnished though, and as mentioned the veneer does not take varnish well, so I'm not sure how to recreate that look.

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Another brilliant piece of modelling!

 

The tea crates with the metal edging is so accurate an observation - I remember them well from childhood.  You are also very generous in sharing your technique (as per usual) and also laying out a full and easy to follow explanation.  Much in the spirit of RMweb.

 

Always great to see a Farthing update when I pop in!

 

Mike

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Hi Mike, a belated thanks! Yes sharing techniques is one of the great things about RMweb, it can be frustrating sometimes to see a brilliant finished model but with no clue as to how it was done.

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Fantastic - I'm definitely going to utilise this idea, and I'd never even considered that a printable veneer was available. Many cast boxes and crates, especially in 7mm, are coarse and look like they've been mastered in plasticine.

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Would be great to see you do some 7mm ones. I do think the material would be even better in that scale, as the thickness would look better. The nice thing about this is that once the design has been made, the lettering can be easily changed to give a wide variety of crates.

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Hi Mikkel

I'm very impressed with your crates/tea chests and wondered if you have any spare ones, built,or in kit form that you would be willing to part with? 

Regards flyingbadger

Edited by flyingbadger
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Love the effect created with these, especially the tea chests.

 

We move house every couple of years when I was little, and the humble tea chest was the standard way of packing up smaller items prior to moving day, rather than the stout cardboard boxes now favoured.  You could expect to see them on any Pickfords van, so they probably also got carried in the conflat-type containers.  We generally had half a dozen old tea chests in the loft.

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4 hours ago, Michael Hodgson said:

Love the effect created with these, especially the tea chests.

 

We move house every couple of years when I was little, and the humble tea chest was the standard way of packing up smaller items prior to moving day, rather than the stout cardboard boxes now favoured.  You could expect to see them on any Pickfords van, so they probably also got carried in the conflat-type containers.  We generally had half a dozen old tea chests in the loft.

They're still the preferred means of transporting china for market traders. You used to be able to pick them up from the Co-Op's blending and packing depot in Crewe, conveniently located for the Potteries.

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On 21/04/2015 at 06:38, Mikkel said:

Thanks Sweven. The tea chests do work well with the veneer I think. I have a feeling some tea chests were varnished though, and as mentioned the veneer does not take varnish well, so I'm not sure how to recreate that look.

 

I would consider trying shellac, it brushes really easily.

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The tea chests I remember certainly weren't varnished, although I suppose that may have been desirable if there was a risk of water damage in a ship's hold.  They were made as cheaply as possible in the tea-growing countries (though the wood may well have been imported) and only intended as single use packaging, a bit like our modern expanded polystyrene fast food packaging.  The same was true of orange boxes, so they were generally available for nothing once they had been used.  I do remember they were often lined inside with foil which I suppose must have been necessary to protect the tea.  One of the oldest photos I have is of myself and my brother aged about 5 & 3 inside one.

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Mikkel

Posted (edited)

14 hours ago, flyingbadger said:

Hi Mikkel

I'm very impressed with your crates/tea chests and wondered if you have any spare ones, built,or in kit form that you would be willing to part with? 

Regards flyingbadger

 

Hi badger, I'd like to help but the veneer sheets that I used have disappeared from the market, and I haven’t been able to find any new equally affordable ones yet - so I only have one unused sheet left which I'd like to use for another project.

 

You could try contacting Monk’s Gate Models, as he used the idea to make a range of 7mm sheets. He might consider offering a 4mm version, I'd certainly get some:

 

 

Edited by Mikkel
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