Blog

Jim Farrens German Submarine U-552 scale model build

Grandpa’s Cabinets was given the privilege of building a custom display kit to house a spectacular model, hand built by Jim Farrens of the German submarine U-552 from World War II. Jim spent a huge amount of time and money to create a true work of art in his rendition of the submarine and I am pleased to report a little information about the sub’s history and show the model.

U-552 was launched on September 14, 1940 and went into service on December 4, 1904. Her nickname was Roter Teufel which means Red Devil after her mascot of a grinning devil painted on the conning tower. She was involved in two serious actions in October of 1941 when she sank the USS Reuben James which was the first US Navy warship to be lost in World War II. This is significant as the US was still neutral at the time. Another controversial action was in April of 1942 when she sank the freighter SS David H. Atwater off the US seaboard.

With the sinking of the Atwater, the action was considered controversial because she was a coastal steamer, completely unarmed carrying 4000 tons of coal from Norfolk, Vriginia to Fall River, Massachusetts. U-552 surfaced about 600 yards from the freighter, opened fire with her 88mm deck gun and machine guns without warning. The bridge of the Atwater was decimated and all crew officers lost their lives there. The real contraversary was because once the Atwater was sinking and the crew were trying to launch the lifeboats, the sub continued to fire on the men as they worked. They ended up jumping into the sea and swimming to any remaining boats still afloat.

The model Jim has created here is remarkable in it’s detail and perspective. He has done a remarkable job with the painting of all the figures and different parts of the interior of the sub. When you look at the cut away areas it’s as if you’re actually looking into a working sub! When Jim contacted me for a display case to house this model, it was decided that because of the size of the model, and the size the case would have to be to accommodate the model properly, a display kit was in order. He decided on oak as the wood of choice and the finish is natural with topcoats of satin polyurethane for protection and a furniture finish.

With all kits Grandpa’s Cabinets makes, all the pieces, the base, four corner pieces, acrylic panels and framed acrylic and oak top comes apart easily for access to the model and goes together just as easy. The kit isn’t glued or screwed together but rather sits nicely on its own with the top and base keeping all the kit together and upright. This keeps the model clean, dust free and keeps curious hands from touching the model and possibly harming the work as it is delicate and fragile.

When you have a model, special item, memorabilia piece or just about anything that’s special to you and needs protection, remember to go to www.grandpascabinets.com. There you’ll find blogs, photos in the huge gallery of past work, comments from current and past customers and a chance to Request a Quote on the same named tab. Hope you like this build by Jim Farrens as much as I do.

Leave a comment

Edmund Fitzgerald Custom Display Case

Being a former resident of Michigan for most of my life, the great lakes and her freighters have always been a part of my life. I worked and lived along the St. Clair River and her connected lakes and spent many days watching the freighters make their way down the river on their way to Lake Erie and up to Lake Huron and on. When the Edmund Fitzgerald sank with all her crew up in Whitefish Bay I remember the very moment the news broke and just what I was doing then.

A modeler had a model of the Fitz that needed a protective case and I was asked to build for her. Here’s the finished display and I’m happy to say I’m truly proud to be a part of this memorial display. The case has an oak base finished in a natural finish.

Edmund Fitzgerald Custom Display Case

Edmund Fitzgerald

Leave a comment

New Custom Display Case Base Options

Grandpa’s Cabinets is happy to announce the creation of another option when it comes to your design choices for your next Custom Display Case order. In the past, the base on any Display Case has been made from a piece of hardwood that has had the edges routed to create a fine finished edge with a raised platform that the acrylic cover sits over to keep it steady and secure.

custom display case inset base

Lately, I’ve been asked to make the base to have a groove that you would set the cover “into” rather than “over” the raised base. Because of the recent popularity of this and since the stability is the same for either design, you now have the option to choose which design would better serve your needs and finished look.

I’ve made a new video that shows the difference in the two options to give you all the information you need to make an informed choice titled “Display Case Options”. Note that it costs a slight bit more for the grooved base but no matter which option you choose, I know you’ll be totally pleased with the finished Custom Display Case.

Order Now

Comments Off on New Custom Display Case Base Options

Caring for Your Acrylic Custom Display Case

Comments Off on Caring for Your Acrylic Custom Display Case

Large Custom Display Case

This customer wanted a really large case and I recommended the kit option which he agreed was the best option. It was the only way to ship it to him as a display case with the all acrylic cover on the base would be too large to ship by ground UPS and would have had to be crated and shipped freight which would have resulted in damage and mishandling. I think this is a great representation of what’s possible when a really large display case is needed.

Large Custom Display Case

Large Custom Display Case

Comments Off on Large Custom Display Case

Grandpa’s Cabinets launches a new YouTube Channel

In between making awesome custom display cases, Grandpa’s Cabinet’s has launched its own YouTube Channel

custom display case videos

Visit our channel to learn more about our custom display cases, custom display kits and how Grandpa’s Cabinets can bring you the best model cases for all your modeling needs.

Here are a few of our recent videos:

 

 

Comments Off on Grandpa’s Cabinets launches a new YouTube Channel

Planning A Perfect Display Case

custom display cases

Here at Grandpa’s Cabinets, I get asked almost daily about how a display case should be sized and designed to get the best looking display of the customers model or piece of art.  Each item is different and really needs to be evaluated as to the best way to get it shown with the most impact on the person admiring it.

It seems the majority of items being displayed in a display case are models built with painstaking accuracy and attention to detail and require security and protection from interested hands and dust.  Here are a few bits of information I want to pass along to all who are thinking of ordering a display case for their precious items.

slide1-960x391

When I ask for information about the size of case the customer wants, I always ask for the ‘inside dimensions” that need to be followed as determined by the customer’s model and desires.  However, when asked for my input, I recommend the customer allow between 1 and 1/2 inches at the front, back, sides and at the top for the model to have a presence in the case that gives all attention to that item.  I feel any more open space just takes away from the item being displayed and serves no purpose other than increased cost.

speciality display case

When a customer wants to display a ship etc., they need to take into account the mounting the item will have in their size requirements.  Invariably there will be one or two who forget to allow for those finials or mounts that their model sits on and come up short in the inside height dimension.  As I try to do in the woodshop, measure twice and cut once!

custom display case

In closing, it’s always a very good idea to place your item in the position you want it to be displayed and try a few different poses.  When you’re satisfied with the look you want, then measure the case “inside” dimensions you’ll need allowing that 1 1/2 or 2 inches on all sides and the top.  I think you’ll be very pleased with the end result once Grandpa’s Cabinets has built you the quality display case to house that very important item.  Also, remember, I build display cases for ANYTHING that has value, whether monetarily or sentimentally, that needs protection and a furniture quality display case and EVERYTHING I build is custom and hand made by me personally, right here in the USA!

bra2

I look forward to working for you.  Contact my website at www.grandpascabinets.com and request a quote on your next custom display case need.  You’ll be surprised at how affordable one can be built for your most precious collecible.  Ron Baluch

Go to www.grandpascabinets.com or call Ron personally at 586-506-2222 for information and suggestions.

 

Comments Off on Planning A Perfect Display Case

How is a Custom Display Case Actually Created?

 

bra2

Creating a custom display case requires a ton of patience, measuring and re-measuring, operating and maintaining power equipment and a ton of desire to produce a product that not only the customer will be pleased with but you as well need to be totally pleased. Every case I build must have the quality that I personally would be proud to display in my own home. After all, when someone has something to display that has very special meaning to them, or a model builder has spent hundreds of hours building that one of a kind model, it must be protected and displayed with the same attention to detail and quality that went into their memorabilia.

 

To detail just how I go about building a custom display case, I’ll start with some steps I take to get all my ducks in a row.  The first thing is to take a moment to determine the overall size of the acrylic sheet I’ll need for an individual case.  Because I heat bend the acrylic to form a three sided box with no ends, I must allow some acrylic to allow for the bend and still maintain the dimension the customer wants their case to be.  Once I’ve determined the size I need, I use a very special saw blade just for cutting acrylic and I cut the material allowing a little extra.  This is to allow me to run all edges over my jointer to get the smoothest edges possible to reduce the bubbling effect that appears whenever you weld acrylic.

 

Ron now works with the optical quality acrylic on the bending jig, creating the cover to fit the oak base.

Ron now works with the optical quality acrylic on the bending jig, creating the cover to fit the oak base.

Now that I have the acrylic cut to size, I take it back to the table saw where I score (cut a very shallow line) the acrylic where I want it to bend when heated to the right temperature.  I’ve designed and built my own bending jig which allows me to get perfect 90 degree corners for a more precise finish on all my cases.  Now that the acrylic is scored, I place it over the heat rod for a period of time, and never too much or too little as that makes a perfect bend not possible or the acrylic burned or warped if too long.  When it’s just right, I form the right angle edge and let it cool.

 

Next, after the two bends have been made, I cut the end pieces of acrylic and weld them onto the ends of the three sided box to form a box with one open side that will become the bottom that sits on the solid hardwood base.  This is allowed to dry for at least two days for a solid weld.

 

The oak base has been routed and sanded to desired finish quality, and a final coat of polyurethane clear coat is applied.

The oak base has been routed and sanded to desired finish quality, and a final coat of polyurethane clear coat is applied.

I then go to the base.  I choose the best, flattest and straightest piece of wood with a grain pattern that is pleasing to the eye and cut it to a rough size.  After I’ve jointed and planed the wood, I cut it to it’s final size based on the opening of the acrylic cover.  It is often the case when I have to glue up multiple pieces of wood to create a base wide enough to accommodate the acrylic cover which I can do easily.  Actually, with wide bases, the more pieces used to create the wide enough base, the better as that prevents warping, bending and twisting later in it’s life.

I then run the outer edges through my router to create the beautiful edges with soft curves and a raised platform for the acrylic to sit over to prevent it from moving around on the shelf when displayed.  Lastly, this is sanded and smoothed for finishing.  I stain every base to the color the customer desires, and I apply at least 2 topcoats of satin polyurethane to the finished base for a finish that’s soft to the eye and provides great protection.

 

To finish a custom display case, the last step is to run the acrylic cover through the router to round over the edges PICT0240where the two ends were welded on so ALL edges have a rounded over finish so there appears that the acrylic was formed rather than constructed.  It’s one extra step that I feel gives a much more professional look to the finished case.  The very last thing is to flame polish the routed edges so all surfaces are smooth and glossy.

 

PICT0206So, you can see, building a custom display case is a work of art in itself, and I personally take it very seriously.  Every case leaving here is created by me personally.  I’m a one man company who believes every customer deserves the best possible work and it’s my job to guarantee they will get just that.  If I wouldn’t place it in my home, I would never send it out to your home, period.  Please contact me with any questions about my work, service and quality anytime at ron@grandpascabinets.com.  I’d love to hear from you and work for you in the very near future.

custom display cases

An antique pocket watch needed special care and protection. The customer was very pleased with the result.

 

 

Comments Off on How is a Custom Display Case Actually Created?

Memorial Flag Display Case

Grandpa’s Cabinets has been known primarily for building custom display cases for models of all varieties including ships, cars, planes, diorama’s, dolls, soccer gloves and just about anything you might think of.  Well, besides these, I also build furniture and anything related to wood.  One of the things I offer and custom build is the Memorial Flag Display Case.  I offer either red oak or cherry solid hardwoods and I finish with any stain color a customer might desire.  The flag size I make these to house is the 5 x 9 foot size that’s normally draped over the coffin of a deceased veteran.  This one shown here I made for my father who was a WWII vet who served from D-Day, Omaha Beach right on through to the end of the war in Germany.

Dads overall image

 

I also offer brass plaques with personalizations to suit any customer’s requirements or desires.  I mounted one memorializing my dad as shown below.

dads with plaque

 

Recently a customer asked for a flag case for their relative who recently passed but they wanted a different twist in the base.  They wanted to be able to display a plaque on the front face of the base so it could be seen from afar.  We determined they needed an area on the front of the base of 2″ to mount a plaque that was 1 1/2″ high.  I designed this alteration to my usual case, which wasn’t an issue since I build everything custom to any customer’s specs, to include a base with some additional moldings.  It gives the customer a place to mount their plaque and also gives the flag a more prominent display wherever they might choose to place it.  Grandpa’s Cabinets offers these cases and the cost for the standard case is $89.00 plus shipping and applicable taxes and for the case with the larger base, $119.00.  These are hand made, custom, and if interested, contact Ron Baluch at ron@grandpascabinets.com and please visit my site, www.grandpascabinets.com for information on everything I offer.

New overall with baseAfter the customer received the case you see here, she let me know it was to display the flag that draped a relative’s coffin.  She also sent me the following quote:

I have received the flag case today.  Absolutely astounding work Mr. Baluch.  We couldn’t be happier.    Thank you many times over for your work of excellence.  It will be an heirloom in my family for a lifetime.
God bless you with much favor and extended health.
Comments Off on Memorial Flag Display Case

Creating A Custom Display Case Cabinet

Cabinet 2

Grandpa’s Cabinets gets requests often for cabinets and display cases that are not in the norm for what we do.  This isn’t a problem most times and this was no exception to that.  A very good customer commissioned me to build a custom display case in my kit format to house a very large, very old antique sail ship for his condo in southern Florida.  After learning the dimensions needed, I realized it was probably going to be the largest ever ordered.  Once we confirmed the dimensions needed, I got to work on his order and completed it in two weeks and as agreed, I even delivered it personally to St. Augustine because it was too large when packed to be shipped by UPS or any conventional means.

About two weeks later, I received a phone call stating that he needed a cabinet to place this on because he had no furniture large enough with a big enough footprint to comfortably hold the cabinet!  He even had an architect friend design a cabinet with storage to do just that and here I go with another challenge and project to fix a situation.

 
Cabinet rough 1

I began construction in solid oak per his request of a simple cabinet.  Here you can see the design starting to take shape.  The base has a toe kick at the very bottom with wheels mounted just inside and just high enough to allow movement but not be seen from a distance.  The sides and divider inside are of furniture grade oak plywood secured with glue and dadoes for strength and support.  The top was made to look like it is about 2″ thick by inserting plywood into the middle of a framed cover of solid oak.

 

Cabinet framed up without doors

Here is the cabinet completed in the rough without the doors inserted yet.  You can see the thickness of the top and the front framing of solid oak which gives this a truly furniture quality look.

 

 

Cabinet rough complete b4 finish

After mounting the doors and hardware and application of 4 topcoats of oil based polyurethane this cabinet took shape very nicely.  The finish I choose is satin in gloss for cabinets like this because I feel it looks more appealing to the eye and doesn’t show dust as fast as a gloss would.  I never choose flat because I just don’t think it brings out the grains in oak well.  Now it was on to delivery time for this piece of furniture and a look at how it will all be once assembled.  I rarely get to see completed work so this was much anticipated.

 

 

Cabinet 1

I delivered the cabinet to the customer and realized he hadn’t assembled the display kit as of yet so I got to do it all for him.  He wanted to use this as a sort of room divider in his condo and I feel it worked well for it’s intended purpose.  After moving the cabinet into position, I proceeded to assemble and clean the display kit base and acrylic panels and get the ship mounted and set.  This case and cabinet overall is about 48″ long by 29″ wide and sits about 7 feet high together just to give some idea of size.  I’m very proud of how the entire project came out and the customer was overwhelmingly pleased as well.  If you have any need for a custom display case to display your works of art or models, never hesitate to contact me.  Ron Baluch,  www.grandpascabinets.com or give a call with questions at (586)506-2222 and for a fast quote, go to the “request a quote” spot on my website.

Comments Off on Creating A Custom Display Case Cabinet