New scratch builder wanna-be

Discussion in 'Scratchin' & Bashin'' started by Tori, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. Tori

    Tori New Member

    I am just getting into model railroading with my husband. I am interested in building scale structures for his layouts.

    Kits are very expensive, so I've decided I'll build a few to get the 'hang' of the construction process, but after that I want to build them myself.

    I'm a computer geek - so the first thing I look for is software to assist with the process.

    Has anyone used Sketchup to actually build models? I've seen some models out there, and am hoping I can use existing ones. But I'll need templates printed from them to cut out the pieces.

    After you get over laughing at my naiveté -- please feel free to straighten me out!

  2. PWRR-2207

    PWRR-2207 Rogue Islander

    Modeling things...

    Welcome aboard! :wave:

    No worries as there is an entire forum here dedicated to modeling in paper (aka 'Card Models'). Here is a link about "SketchUp" in our Card Models Forum with reviews, tips and tricks.

    I use scrap cardboard to mock up things to make sure they will fit on my railroad and to make sure they look right from different angles, so starting with cheaper components is a great idea. :thumb:

    May you never look at a large storage tank (Quaker Oats tube) or small silo (soda can) the same again :mrgreen:
  3. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

  4. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Welcome to The Gauge.
  5. RonP

    RonP Member of the WMRC

    Yes welcome and hope you find what you are looking for. If you don't just ask there will be an expert at every turn.
  6. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi Tori...Welcome to the Gauge. You've come to the right place if you're looking to get some tips and inspiration for your fledging career as a scratch builder. Just to whet your appetitte, here's a link to one of the best builders anywhere...

    Good luck...!!
  7. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    I never heard of that program you mentioned. I'm using P&P(pencil and paper)2.0
    Scratch building is fun to do. You can build something you want, and not what an manufacturer THINKS you want(though kitbashing can solve that problem also). Its best to start easy. Something simple, like a trackside shed.

    I use strictly plastic when I scratch build. Its easy to cut, you can use regular Testors Model cement to assemble. More advanced and better modelers do scratchbuild with bass wood. Others use cardboard.

    Here's a link to a scratchbuild I did for a challenge, with some of my techniques for working in styrene

    Hope to see some of your work.
  8. Tori

    Tori New Member

    Wow - thanks!

    Thanks for all the tips, links and good wishes...I know where to go when I need help!

    We're going to be working with HO to start with, N is just too small for our (ok) my husband's hands and our eyesight doesn't need any more challenges!

    Our first project is going to be a 4'x8' - 60's genre layout, just to get our feet wet.

    Our 4 kids want in on the action, some want old-style stuff and some want fantasy/sci-fi alien landscapes - we'll have to work on that when we move into a large house!

    I'll let you know how we progress, and I know I'll be posting questions as we, as someone mentioned, move into our new career!
  9. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Perhaps you could have each of them build practice diorama's.......It would be good practice and give an Idea as to each childs artisitic talent and more importantly long term interest and tenacity :)
  10. RonP

    RonP Member of the WMRC

    What a great piece of advice this is cheaper then giving them a full toe hold on the layout.
  11. MadModeler

    MadModeler Member

    Welcome aboard Tori. Glad to see someone who is into challenging themselves with building scenery.

    Don't worry about people laughing at you here. This is a great forum to come to for help.

    And for those who may laugh at you, ignore them. Not worth the time worrying about them.
  12. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    there are a couple of sites with downloadable buildings that you can print out and cut out. Check the free ones first.
    Robin built his from breakfast cereal boxes; I have one in my collection.
    Involve the kids as soon as you can trust them with sharp knives. (you know when)
    And look for Nazgul's thread "Don't laugh..." and see what one beginner learned in a year.
  13. bclemens

    bclemens Member

    Hi, Tori,
    You wrote

    Has anyone used Sketchup to actually build models?

    Yes. Sketchup is great. There are lots of tutorials out there and lots of examples. Several people on the card modeling forum use it, and I have used it to design a model here:

    Also here:

    You can do everything you want with Sketchup, Pepakura, inkscape and Gimp. And the only thing you have to pay for is Pepakura. At less than $40, it's very reasonable.
    Best wishes,
  14. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

    Welcome Tori!

    You might check out Build Your Own Main Street - free downloadable HO scale cardstock models of typical early 20th century urban American structures.

    Best of luck, and most importantly, have fun! :)
  15. Tori

    Tori New Member

    Thanks Art!

    These look great - something else the kids can have fun with and we can use this type of thing to plan our buildings and scenes and learn about construction. Then we can build them out of plastic!

    I'm really regretting that I have to work for a living and can't just play all day!
  16. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    You can also look into getting thin basswood sheets/strip wood and try building structures out of wood. It's cheaper than styrene (in my opinion).
    The big 4 wood manufacturers are:
    Midwest Products and Northeastern Scale lumber - which offer strip wood in fractions of an inch: 1/32x1/32, 1/8x1/4, etc. Commonly $0.20-0.50 for a 2' piece. They sell Basswood and balsa
    Mt Albert and Kappler offer true to scale lumber. They sell HO scale 4"x8"s...not stuff that is just close to a 4"x8". The downside is that you have to purchase it in larger quantities and it is harder to find.

    Evergreen scale models is the primary styrene plastic supplier (brits call it plastic "card"). They have all sorts of interesting materials that can represent board and batten siding or tile floors.

    Plastruct offers all sorts of cool structural shapes in plastic.

    Grandt Line offers all sorts of cool windows (I like to make my own from styrene). Grandt Line products started off as Cliff Grandt's hobby when he retired 40 years ago...and now employs several of his kids.

    There are so many different ways to create "glass" for windows...whether cut from transparencies, clear styrene, or real glass! I've seen several models utilizing microscope slide cover glass...and most interesting to me is Clover House's thin glass for hobbyists. Clover House is run by a nice little old couple in the 80's.

    There's also so much fun in making stuff out of junk and free stuff. I like a little of both.

    Here's a few links to the above suppliers:
    Welcome to Midwest Products Co., Inc.
    Northeastern Scale Lumber Company
    Welcome to
    Kappler Scale Lumber
    Evergreen Scale Models
    Plastruct, Inc. - Home
     Grandt Line Products home page
    Model Railroad Supplies - Clover House
  17. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Hi and welcome: I came across the following book of cutout, HO scale buildings at a bookstore quite a few years ago. I don't know if they are still available. Cut and Assemble a Western Frontier Town by Edmund V. Gillion, Jr. Publisher; Dover Poblications Inc. 180 Varick St. New York, NY10014, USA.--- General Publishing Co. Toronto, Ontario, Canada--- Constable and Company Ltd. 10 Orange St. London WC2H 7EG.
    There is also a book of Victorian houses listed, by the same author.

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