12 May 2011
Alwyn Brice takes a look at the display cabinet market and gives ideas for storing your collection of diecast models. ...
No matter how large or modest your collection, sooner or later comes the time to think about the storage and display of your models. No-one likes their precious collection to attract dust, particularly where small, fragile parts may be concerned. So, investment in some sort of display furniture is the logical solution.
To find out what’s involved in the actual manufacturing process, I visited the premises of Timbercraft, which is based near Towcester. There David Cooper showed me how it’s all done.
David got into this line back in 1981 when he was recuperating from a road accident. A qualified cabinet and furniture maker, display cabinets posed no problems for him technically. He’s currently able to offer no fewer than 28 finishes and has something for all pockets, starting with melamine and going on to solid wood. His tiny workshop boasts an expensive circular saw, a drilling rig and glass cutting equipment plus wood, glue, glass, stain and other accessories. And, when he’s not busy making cases, several hundred a year at last count, he’s actively promoting the hire of his two Routemaster buses – yes, the real thing, one of which is a topless model!
“Wood arrives in sheets, usually 8ft x 4ft, which I then cut to size. For wall cabinets, the sections are then edged and mitred and the sides prepared for drilling. My set-up can drill 35 holes at a time. The carcasses and bodies are then assembled and lacquered, according to customer request. I buy in the float glass, too: this I cut to make up the shelves and cabinet fronts. The edges of the glass then have to be polished and I send the glass away to be toughened for the doors. This involves heating the sheets to almost melting point and then rapidly cooling them.
“For the five sided cases, it’s a question of preparing the framework, cutting the glass to fit and assembling the whole. There’s no magic about it – it’s a straightforward process.”
Of Timberercraft’s output, David reckons that floor cabinets take up about 10% of his work, with wall cabinets accounting for 60%: the rest is table-top cases. In addition, around 60% of his output is custom built. He doesn’t attend too many swapmeets these days but has plenty of stories about the ‘Great British public’ like the time a chap kept returning to his stand one day and finally said to him: “Have you ever thought about keeping model cars in these cabinets? They’d be ideal, wouldn’t they?”