Getting started with scratch building

Discussion in 'Scratchin' & Bashin'' started by ppowell, Feb 10, 2004.

  1. ppowell

    ppowell New Member

    I'm not working on a logging layout right now but I've always enjoyed the work you guys do, especially the scratch built wood structures. I'm working on a small 5x2 HO switching layout. The theme is an ocean port with plenty of small wood bridges, wood docs, etc. Oh and maybe a scratch built ship as well. Are there any special tools you use to make projects easier? Or is an x-acto knife all that is required. Also what types of wood do you use and where do you get it? Do you glue your structures together or use micro nails? Finally do you stain or paint to get the desired look?

    Thanks for any help!
  2. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    :wave: Welcome to the-gauge Paul! :wave:

    I start with 1/32" X 3" or 4" basswood in 2 ft lengths from Hobby Lobby, then cut them down with my table saw. This costs about 1/10 the pric eof "scale lumber". For buildings I've cut 1/16th for HO and 1/8 for O, and consdider these 6" widths. I call it "strip wood" rather than scale lumber, because it's no exactly to scale. Neither is real lumber, so it's good enough :D I do not use balsa, IMHO the grain is too large.

    My finest hour was probably this blacksmith shop I made for My father (bottom picture):

    It's "O" scale and the basic construction is cardboard, with the wood strips stained with dark red latex paint (wiped before dry), then cut with exacto or sheers, then glued in place with white glue. Many of hte pics are missing, because my web site is down, but there's a better image of the side and front here:*blacksmith shop*

    The front is a photo of the front of the real building, scanned and sized, then cut and pasted to make a "sheet" of siding, and finally printed. Top photo in this thread is hte same building:

    The windows are plastic glued in with testors window glue, then thin strips of the same wood glued to that.

    And here is another view:

    Attached Files:

  3. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Oh, the sheers I mentioned are of the garden variety, fiskers stainless, and very handy for cutting metal, plastic and wood.

    I think a very handy tool to have would be the chopper from NWSL (LHS or Walthers).
  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi Paul, jon,

    I wonder if this wouldn't get a better response (i.e. more info than you could ever read ;)) in the Scratch-building forum. Is it in your power to move it jon?

  5. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Paul, I've accumulates so many different "scratchbuilding" tools over the last 40 or so years that I would never try to list them. Some of them are real tools and others are things that I "make do" with and others are things that I made to suit a specific a contour sanding block that shapes passenger car roofs. Keep in mind that ordinary houshold things sometimes can fill a real need for that special a woman's hair clip for a clamp to hold two delicate parts together while the glue sets. Sometimes you just have to look around.

    But for basic tools, in addition to your Xacto knife....
    1. A steel scale ruler (can double as a straight edge)
    2. A small sanding block with fine grit paper.
    3. A mechanical pencil
    4. A set of numbered drills....size 60-80
    5. A pin vise (holds the drill bits)
    6. Wooden clothes pins....they make great clamps
    7. A small machinist square and a small vise.
    8. A set of small files
    9. Wood glue, plastic glue and ACC glue
    10. A set of metal triangles to make degreed cuts.
    11. An assorment of various size paint brushes.
    12. Paints in basic railroad colors
    13. A fine blade Zona Saw or Atlas Snap Saw.
    14. Fine tipped tweezers

    I'm sure other's will have many more suggestions but I do agree with Jon about the CHOPPER!!...It is great for cutting mulitple pieces of stripwood when you need them to all be the same size.

    Yes you want to glue your structures....I would think that the micro nails are just to large for HO and O scales. You can simulate nails on your structures...just poke small holes in the wood with a pin where the nails are supposed to go and when you paint or stain the structure it will appear as though there are nails. For things like bridges that might be bolted together you can get plastic nut and bolt and washer (NBW) casting to simulate this.

    Staining or painting is your prefference depending on how you want the structure to look. Don't forget, you can make a stain out of most any paint....just thin it down with the proper thinner.
  6. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Uh, ya, and all those tools too! :D :D :D

    I have a set of small plastic brightly colored clamps that work as clothes pins, but they have swivel jaws to grip uneven surfaces, a groove for tubing and being plastic, won't glue to thje model. A big plastic tube full of 'em was just a couple dollars at Menards :D

    Also a scribe, jewelers screwdrivers and pliers, and hemostats.

    I wouldn't get to hung up on a list though, just buy what you need as you need it.
  7. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Don't forget the mitre box to go with the razor saw.
    I've also got a set of dental picks, and hollow punches. The punches are mostly for styrene modeling. I still have some of the old floquil stains that I use for painting but paints are usually up to the builders descretion.
  8. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

  9. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    A good tool to use for scratch building is Photo Shop so you can touch up your photos before you post them on the net. Makes your models look so much better:D . FRED
  10. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    Here's a before and after. :D :D :D FRED

    Attached Files:

  11. Lemur

    Lemur New Member

    Wow, that is obviously one great tool! I have got to get me one of those! :thumb:
    I think with that tool I can get rid of all of the others which just clutter up the workshop. :D :D :D
  12. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hello Paul, and welcome to the gauge. Everyone has overlooked just one small item needed for scratchbuilding, and that is a "BAND-AID" LOL. Anyway, I use a craft knife, ruler,card,stripwood (1000's) and contact glue to make all my scratchbuilt structures.
    Here's one I made some time ago.
  13. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    Uh shamus, where's your before? :D And what's that beaver doing chewing on that firewood? FRED
  14. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    That bever escaped from one of those "picture quiz" shots that Paul posted. You obviously missed that one "difference".:wave: :wave:
  15. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Now, actually, image editing software IS usefull in scratchbuilding. I used The GIMP, because it's free, to create the alsphalt shingle front for the blacksnmith shop shown on the front page of this thread. You can also use the same to create and/or print bricks, stone, wood et.c

    I also used The GIMP to make the interior paneling in the building. I scanned the exterior, converted it to black and white, and added back the color I wanted for unfinished interior pine.

    Attached Files:

  16. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member


    Attached Files:

  17. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    I kind of miss the "good old daze" when my modeling was done with a straight edge razor, paint "brushes" cut from paper matchbook matches, scale lumber from split match sticks, shirt cardboard and a scale ruler cut from the pages of an old Model Railroader magazine. All my money went to paint and rolling stock.

    Attached Files:

  18. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Oh laddy, its a Wabbit, not a beaver LOL Unless a beaver came in by mistake , Hmmm.

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