Sea House Conservatory Railing

The Sea House Conservatory deck needed a railing.

So I built one.

SH Conservatory railing, under construction

The Conservatory has a celestial motif in the leaded windows, which is carried through in the railing panel design.

I cut multiples of each panel from chipboard on the Cricut Maker. (Side note: I get the best results from editing the cutting presets, after a test cut on my chosen material.) I decided on a double, rather than triple layer, to lessen the alignment errors.

I used a lamination technique I learned from the talented Heather Tracy at Thicketworks. She uses thin cyanoacrylate on her intricate chipboard pattern pieces to seal, strengthen and stabilize the material. When dry they are easily sanded and very, very hard, and take acrylic paints beautifully.

Wheelbarrow pattern design by Heather Tracy of Thicketworks

To learn the nuances of the technique, I used one of Heather’s patterns she generously makes available free of charge. (She also has an Etsy shop, a YouTube channel of tutorials, and a maker club.) I made the blue wheelbarrow first, and then the red, slightly improving my results. It is a worthwhile technique, but messy. (Also, to me cyanoacrylate is one of those devil’s bargain products.) If you’re not familiar with Heather’s work, I encourage you to check it out!

After sanding the panels smooth — paying particular attention to the outside edges — I glued (using wood glue) them into post and rail surrounds.

These were then joined into the L-shaped railing.

I sprayed the assembly with multiple light coats of matte black primer + paint, to seal and increase attachment bonds. After the glue and paint cures overnight, I’ll finish sand it and paint a final coat, then give it a matte seal.

I like a good wide top railing, for cats to lounge, elbows to lean, and drinks to be set upon, so I used 3/4- by 1/8-inch basswood. Thinking now of bracket designs to be cut from card stock to attach the railing securely to the deck, but that’s for tomorrow.

Having just finished watching the Amazon series Tales From The Loop, I’ll leave you with this image of Point Montara Light.

11 thoughts on “Sea House Conservatory Railing

  1. Sheila Lester says:

    Wow! That’s just wonderful. Between you and Jodi a Cricut is looking better and better if I could master the designing portion.

    Have you ever thought of designing dollhouse kits? You have such a creative mind, I’d love to see what you come up with ‘from scratch’ so to speak.

    • Nancy Enge says:

      Sheila, I’m glad you like the railings!
      In my experience, the Cricut Maker is a good cutter, especially at its price point. As for the design portion, it’s more a matter of *seeing* what you what to make, and then breaking it down into components that the machine understand. Trial and error, and persistence.
      You honor me with the thought of being able to design dollhouse kits. I’m smart enough to know I don’t know nearly enough, plus my taste is quirky enough I know they would never be economically feasible or commercially successful.
      And, I’ve *zero* interest in designing anything I’m not personally interested in exploring. There you have it — I’m just not a good capitalist :)

  2. Bennie says:

    The celestial design matches perfectly with the windows. I’ve seen that Cricut machine on the TV show Make it Artsy. I don’t have one and I don’t have the space or the time to really invest in such amazing crafts but at least I know what you’re talking about.

    I agree with you, I like the wide railing for people to rest drinks on or plants or as in your case kitties can sit there in the sun too.

    • Nancy Enge says:

      Bennie, I’m glad the celestial design carry-through works. Thank you for noticing.
      The Cricut Maker is a good desktop cutting machine for realizing one’s own designs, and I’ve been really pleased at its ability to cut intricate 1:12 designs in a variety of materials.
      We were just about to get our front deck rebuilt IRL when all of the coronavirus restrictions and shutdowns came down, so this SH Conservatory model represents a lot of deferred dreams :)

  3. Marilyn Ormson says:

    Just utterly beautiful. Your instinct for perfection astounds me. There won’t be a single one of us who can’t imagine ourselves in that space and having a moment of heaven.

  4. Susan says:

    Your railing is very timely for me as I am about to give-up on having stairs because of dealing with the railing… I am going back to the drawing board and use what you have done as a springboard — so — thank you very very much for posting. Your deck is gorgeous! Your house is lovely!

  5. Keli says:

    I can’t believe I missed this post.

    The deck railing turned out beautifully, it’s perfect for the space. I love how wide open you’ve made the conservatory kits, great flow.

    • Nancy Enge says:

      Well, um, I don’t think you did miss it. The deck and its railing are total wish-fulfillment, as my own real-life deck replacement/remodeling project was hijacked by all kinds of circumstance, as you know. I’m glad you like it.
      I’m planning on using the Conservatory as part of the final presentation in my Greater Farallones Sanctuary naturalist course, so need to motivate to finish the final set of windows, and make lab trays with specimens, and notebooks, and sticking all the lab equipment in place, and making a sign, and hoping for a fog-free morning to do photography… happy deadlines :)

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