The Den of Slack

Victorianna right tower finished

The last time I worked on the Victorianna’s right tower, I had assembled the cupola (a bashed 1:48 gazebo) to look like this.

To finish it, I needed to fill those gaps between the wall pieces, and also clean up the platform that goes around the cupola. I cut dowel pieces to fill up the gaps. For the platform, I used thin strip wood to cover up the many different pieces that have been sandwiched together to form this surface.

I painted the pieces before gluing them in. I knew they’d need more paint once they were in, since there would be gaps to fill, but doing one coat first made the job a little easier. Of course, the paint caused the thin strip wood to curl, so it had to be taped down overnight while the glue dried.

Next I filled in the gaps with wood filler, being super careful not to get filler on the windows.

And here it is painted.

The cupola is enclosed, so it doesn’t technically need a railing, but the platform around it looks unfinished, especially compared to the beefier tower roof on the left.

My original plan was to put roof trim around the edge, but I couldn’t cut the pieces in a way that made the repeating pattern look nice.

So I decided to do a railing similar to the porch railing, but using the shorter spindles I’d used inside the cupola. I started by cutting out the handrail pieces using the 37.5-degree angle on the miter box.

Thinking the angles would be difficult to glue standing up, I attempted to glue them all together so the railing would be one piece, but the assembly was too flimsy. So I ended up with a few segments of partially glued pieces.

The groove in the handrail was slightly larger than the railing piece, so I used a piece of strip wood to make up the difference.

My idea was that the strip wood pieces would meet up at the corners, so you wouldn’t be able to see that the gaps between the railing pieces. I thought I could do something similar to hide the gaps at the bottom.

This was a valiant effort, but it just didn’t work. I wanted the bottoms of the railings to be evenly spaced from the front of the platform pieces, but then the railing corners didn’t meet up, and I just couldn’t come up with a good way to hide the gaps at the bottom. Back to the drawing board.

My next idea was to use the Houseworks railing set, which has a top and a bottom piece, but with shorter than normal spindles so the railing wouldn’t block the windows. These are 1 1/2″ spreaders cut in half.

They fit well in the grooves in the railing pieces, but the bottom piece looks much too big. It would be sturdy, but it’s not elegant.

Next I tried these Tiny Turnings segments. They’re a bit shorter than the cut-in-half spreaders and the flat bottoms mean the bottom railing piece isn’t needed, so the railing comes in just below the window.

I painted the Tiny Turnings while they were still on their sticks.

Then I cut them apart, leaving the peg on one end to fit into the railing groove.

I like it!

I used five turnings per railing piece. On each railing piece I put a spindle close to the corner on one side but not the other side, so there wouldn’t be two spindles right next to each other at the corner.

Rather than try to measure out where the spindles should go, I started by putting a spindle close to one edge and about 1/4″ in from the other edge. Then I inserted a spindle between the first two.

Then I added the last two. I was able to space them fairly evenly this way.

After gluing the pieces in, I put wood filler in the seams where the railing pieces meet and then repainted. About an hour after gluing, the spindles are still a little wobbly, but the railings glued together nicely and are forcing the spindles to stay put. (I hope!)

Here’s the finished cupola. It’s come long way from the 1:48 gazebo I started with.

And with this, the tower exteriors are officially complete. Hey, they only took nine months!


  1. Wow, what an incredible transformation! I love your railings solution.

  2. Your work always inspires an amazes.

  3. The finished towers look great!

  4. Just gorgeous! Perseverance pays off!

  5. A very fiddly job yet you pulled it off Splendidly!
    I love the use of the dowels in between the window segments which add that extra bit of architectural interest; Beautifully done!

  6. … nine months and well worth the effort! The towers are just fabulous and so beautifully done.

  7. Awesome! You are a genius.

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