by: Tom Cromwell [ ]
introductionYour humble author received a few new goodies from Matho Models, and first to be put to the test is a wooden garden set consisting of a table and two benches. Variations on this simple set can be found all over Europe, the Americas, and I suspect pretty much everywhere except (maybe) Antarctica. It’s a common staple of pub gardens where I live, and is a fairly timeless design. The pieces simply slot together and are held by wooden wedges that can be removed if it needs to be taken apart for storage or a move. Of course, there are many sets where the wedges are long-gone, and the main pieces simply nailed or screwed together too…
contentsInside a zip-lock bag is a single fret of laser-cut wood and a slip of paper with the web address of the item on Matho’s website for reference. There are no assembly instructions. The wood is quite thin, and as I discovered it can break easily along the grain if handled rough. (I broke two parts when removing them from the fret, but glued them back together with no trouble.)
The buildStarting with the tie-beams, these are made of two halves that need to be joined together. The ends are carefully scored to form pockets for the wedges when the halves are glued – I found these needed a little extra cleanup to let the wedges fit, but only after I had glued them! Far better to do a little scrape when the slots are still open to the world.
I sanded the edges and pressed a bench-end on before slotting in a wedge with tweezers and a steady hand. After I had both ends done I brushed on some Gator’s Grip Thin glue to lock it all up, then glued the ends to the underside of the bench seat. These seats are etched with planks only on the top, so if you want to model your bench upside-down (such as stacked on the table at closing-time) simply put the top on the other way up. The fret has one set of reinforcers for where the ends meet the top, but there are two benches, so I used some scrap fret to make an extra pair. [Edit: turns out the reinforcers are actually part of the table and not the benches - there's a set of instructions as a drawing on the website! D'oh...]
The table is more complex, with three different lengths of tie-beam. On the fret you get three “short” ties, one “medium” tie, and one “long” tie. Each bench uses a short tie, leaving one of each length for the table. The central hole in the X-shaped legs is for the medium beam, and there is more of a gap between the shoulders of the central bit and the peg hole because it has to sandwich two of the legs while the other beams only have one thickness to cover. I added all the wedges before adding glue, and when I placed the legs on the underside of the tabletop I found it needed extra stiffeners, so I cut two lengths of spare fret to span the underside as if the top planks were nailed to it.
conclusionsThis is a fun little detail that can fit any timeframe or location, and can be hidden under gear or sat at by weary figures. The set comes in “raw” wood, but real ones would weather to a greyish colour, or might be stained, varnished, or even painted. If doing any staining it is best to do so before adding any glue, otherwise there will be patches the stain can’t get to.
All in all a useful bit of scenery!