Stage 2 – Cutting the polystyrene
Out to the garage for the this stage, making sure I leave the door open – breathing in melted polystyrene vapour indoors is not a good idea! With a new blade in the stanley knife, I cut straight edges onto the polystyrene sheets. The openings are marked onto the styrene with the CD marker, using the cork cave tiles as a template. For cutting the curves, I’m using a home-made polystyrene cutter. This has been made from a mains-powered soldering gun with the soldering bit replaced with a section of power cable. This is thick enough that it will hold any shape that you bend into it. I have used it before for cutting a 28mm scale trench system into 2” polystyrene sheet – very handy!
After I started cutting, I suddenly realised that I wouldn’t know which pieces fo styrene go with which cork cave tile, so quickly labelled each tile alphabetically, and gave all the styrene chunks matching letters as they were cut.
Stage 3 – Glueing the polystyrene
With the polystyrene chunks arranged with their respective cork cave tiles, I can start glueing. Each polystyrene chunk receives a squirt of PVA which is then spread with an old, coarse bristled brush. Some more glue is spread onto the appropriate section of the cork tile to ensure a good bond to both surfaces, then the polystyrene is pressed into position. At the end of the evening, all the completed cave tiles are places on an A2 cutting mat, with another cutting mat on top, then several large, heavy books (Times atlases work especially well!). This keeps the polystyrene under pressure as it dries, and will hopefully prevent the cork warping.
Stages 2 and 3 have been tending to run in tandem. I’ll spend an hour in the garage cutting the polystyrene, then come indoors and spend another ½ hour or so doing the glueing whilst watching an episode of Angel or Stargate. This gives me just the right amount of cave sections to fit under some nice heavy atlases. I’ve completed 2 sessions so far, and will probably need only 1 more session to finish.