Sanding/Restringing

In May of 2006, I finally took Anais apart, sanded off her seam lines, and restrung her, with Marcia's invaluable help. Below, please find the results. Below that, please find observations and a quick howto.

Nothing up my
sleeves
Check out my smooth legs! No seams here. In my dreams, I can fly. Fly away!

Observations about sanding:

1. Despite my fears to the contrary, taking the doll apart does not seem to cause her significant discomfort. :)

2. Despite Anais' age (3 years now, I think) and despite significant sun exposure, she doesn't seem to have yellowed enough to show the sanded spots.

3. You can buy an excellent seam scraper at your local hobby store. They're small, dental-looking tools designed for scraping the seams of polystyrene models. They do the same job admirably on BJDs. Start with gentle pressure until you get a feel for how much resin the thing is scraping away at a time, and adjust accordingly.

4. Scraping takes hours off the seam sanding process. I highly recommend it.

5. Sanding film is *the* stuff for sanding. We started with 400 grit sand paper after scraping, then went to film somewhere around 1000 grit. The resin sands smooth as butter. Smoother.

6. Sand the doll wet. It helps keep your sandpaper/films from clogging with resin as fast, helps keep the resin dust down, and generally makes the process nicer. Scraping the doll wet doesn't seem to make a lot of difference either way, but we did.

7. Wear a dust mask and eye protection. They tell me resin dust is evil stuff to get into your eyes and/or lungs. I wouldn't know. I've always been exceedingly careful not to, and I suggest you do, too. Remember, your eyeballs and lungs have to last you a lifetime (in most cases).

8. Let the doll dry before restringing her. Moisture is bad for the string, and body odor from mildew is probably a level of realism the dolls just don't need. Or so they tell me. Haven't gone there.

Restringing - How To:

Restringing the "one touch" hand and foot system dolls is MUCH easier than than the other type. You need: new string, a stringing tool, needle nose pliers, a couple of pencils, and a friend. Here's what you do:

1. Put the doll's legs together and slip them into the hip holes on the torso. Presumably, if you have a waist joint, this should be assembled as well. Anais hasn't got one, so I dunno.

2. Take the new string (I used an official Volks string) and measure off from the top of the neck to just below the knee. Leave some string to tie knots in at the top.

3. Double the string over, back up to the top, then make a second loop of the same length the same way. Cut the string after the second loop.

4. Tie the two ends of the string together with an overhand knot. Then masking-tape the "up" loop to the knot. The two "down" loops go in the legs. Hook the S hook in the up loop and the knot (maybe tape it in place, for that matter).

5. Get your Volks stringing tool. No really. I don't know if other doll manufacturers sell these. Volks does, and they're pretty much mandatory. Yeah, you could probably make one out of coat hanger, but you'll miss the flexibility. Anyway. get your Volks restringing tool and thread it up through the body from the leg hole and out the neck. Hook one of your down loops and pull it all the way down through the body and out the hip hole. Repeat with the other loop. Pull both loops until the s hook is snug in the neck.

6. Note that you can do steps 6-9 in this order, or alternate legs so both legs take shape simultaniously. For simpllicity's sake I'm doing one leg at a time. I don't recall if that's how I did Anais's restring. Anyway. Thread the stringing tool through the thigh section and hook the loop sticking out of the corresponding hip hole in the torso. Pull the string down into the thigh and out the bottom of the thigh.

7. Thread the stringing tool through the calf. Make sure you have the correct calf for the leg you're working on, they're only subtly different. Yeah, like stamped with "L" and "R" inside the joint. Okay, so I missed that part. Anyway. Grab the loop that was sticking out of the thigh and haul it down through the calf. It's under tension now, so stick a pencil or a finger in the loop once you have it out the bottom of the calf.

8. Thread the stringing tool through the one-touch washer. Hey, it looks like an ordinary lockwasher to me too, but what do I know? :) Now hook the loop that is sticking out the bottom of the calf and choking off the blood supply to your finger with the hook, and slide the washer onto the string. You should have a friend holding the doll's torso at this point, or something could go flying. That would be bad.

9. Pull the loop down where your friend can reach it and hook the foot, foot ball, and foot S hook onto it. Once it's hooked, unhook your stringing tool from the loop and let the foot get pulled up to the ankle. Repeat steps 6-9 with the other leg.

10. The arms are like unto the legs, except that the string isn't involved in the S hook. With a Volks string kit, use all the string that's left for the arms; it's about the right length, otherwise yeah, measure the string across the chest to probably about the elbows, double it over, and cut the string. Tie the string in a single big loop, and fish it in one armhole and out the other with the stringing tool. It'd probably be easier to pull the knot into the chest at this point. I didn't, but if you're confident about your string lengths, you probably should. It's a pain in the ass to get the knot in there later and then re-tension the arms.

11. The arms go together exactly the same as the legs, really, so go back to steps 6 through 9 and substitute "upper arm, forearm, wrist, and hand" for "thigh, calf, ankle, and foot." Note that neither the balls nor the one-touch washers are interchangeable from hand to foot, unless you are doing some very odd customization that I frankly don't want to know about.

12. Okay. The body's all together and as tight as you want without being too tight. (Not tight enough? Unstring whichever set of limbs is the problem, take slack out, and pull everything back through. It's *still* easier than tensioning the old way.) Time to put on the head. Have your friend hold the body tightly. With your needle nose pliers, pull up on the S hook in the neck. Peel off all the masking tape. Be especially careful not to let the the "up loop" come off the S hook, or you'll be restringing everything again. Let the S hook slide back into the notches in the neck.

13. Take the head. Hold it carefully so you don't mash the eyelashes or mess up the faceup. This is tricky. Reach through the hole in the bottom of the head with your needlenose pliers and grab the S hook. Haul it up through the neck hole until the knot comes through. Turn the S hook so it slips into the cradle for it in the head. Now reattach the top of the head however it was attached before. Mine has a rubber band that hooks to the top of the S hook.

14. Give each limb a tug to make sure the tension's all even, and you're done.