Meet the maker, Bob Packer

Woodworker standing next to the wooden dolls house he built

“Can you make a model of Upton?” they asked. Although an experienced woodworker, it’s not something I have ever done before, but I was intrigued and wanted to give it my best shot.

So I had a think…doll's house furniture is 1/12 scale. The property is about 200ft from end to end so a model of the entire house would be 20ft (6metres) long! This presented me with two questions, 1 where will the model be housed? and 2 my workshop is only 16ft long – how could I build it! 

"Build it in sections" I hear you say... hmmm! From the house plans, there isn't a single wall that extends from the front to the back of the property. So there are no obvious break points.

There were more question to consider too…

Q. How much will it weigh?
A. A lot! Best guess 500 lbs (250kg)

Q. What can we put it on?
A. I'd suggest something rather sturdy. 

Q: Will the floor stand the weight after all it's an old building?
A. Er!

So I had a cuppa and thought about it some more

Q. Do you need a model of the entire house, after all, one bedroom is much like another.
A. That's a thought

Q. What do you think characterises Upton?
A. Internally, the picture room, the long gallery, the entrance hall, etc. and externally the main architectural feature the pediment.

Q. So why don’t I build a model based on those features?
A. Sounds like a good idea!

Hence or otherwise... the Upton House Model

Bob volunteered to make the 8 foot dolls house ready for visitor to furnish
Make putting in wondows of dolls house
Bob volunteered to make the 8 foot dolls house ready for visitor to furnish

How did I get on

Q. Was it a challenge?
A. I'll say so! 

Q. What was the hardest part?
A. The level of accuracy required in measuring and cutting the rebates which the walls slot into. Followed closely by actually assembling the whole model single handed. Oh and cutting the window apertures was more complicated than I had anticipated. Maybe I made life hard for myself designing the model the way I did but I'm not a professional carpenter and couldn't see an easier way to construct it. 

Q. How long did it take?
A. Well I took about 3 months studying plans of the house at various points in its existence whilst I was recovering from a knee operation that didn't go quite according to plan and about the same length of time again to build the skeleton of the house itself.

Q. Did you enjoy making it?
A. Yes, but there were times.... it's nice to finally see it at Upton and I’m quite pleased it's out of my workshop so I can final move around it again! 

I was flattered by the way it has been received and I hope that it gives the visitors to Upton pleasure. 

Something to try when you visit

Try this... go to the front of the house and look at the chimney stacks. Then go and do the same from the rear. You might want to repeat this a time or two before, like me, you question your own sanity!  

No you’re not going mad they do appear different on the front and back. How? Well the roof is of a double apex construction with a valley running between. The stacks you see are on the apex nearest to you and you are unable to see those on the furthest apex, hence the illusion. 

I had a full head of hair before starting this job....

Finishing touches

There are some things to be completed, principally the exterior walls which have yet to be finished due to a change in the plan regarding how the window frames would be represented but this should soon be resolved. 

The staff and volunteer team at Upton are due to paint and paper the house so the rooms can be furnished. 

It’s going to be a real team effort and I hope you will join us and enjoy taking part by having a go at making a miniature item in your favouite craft. 

I’m looking forward to visiting regularly to see how it progresses and what your furniture contributions look like in the rooms.