Weathering Stripwood

Discussion in 'Scratchin' & Bashin'' started by Casey Feedwater, Jul 29, 2003.

  1. Trainclown sent me a PM asking about how I weather my stripwood. For some reason, I am unable to post my reply to him as a "Message," so I'll try to post it here.

    Hi, Chris,

    I apologize for not having answered you before now. The truth is I just discovered this PM from you a few minutes ago. I always forget to scroll to the bottom of the page to see if I have messages.

    Thanks for the comments about my layout and work.

    Most of the wood structures you see were built up board-by-board from individual pieces of stripwood. Before beginning construction, I soak them for up to 24 hours in a stain made from very dilute acrylic paints. To approx. 20 oz. of water in a jar, I normally add the following: 1/4-1/2 tsp. India ink, 1 tsp Polly Roof Brown, 1 tsp. Polly Grimy Black or Oily Black, 1-1/2 tsps. of Polly RR Tie Brown. (If I want the wood to take on a more reddish appearance, I cut back on the browns and add approx. 1 tsp. Apple Barrel Burnt Sienna. If I want the wood to be grayer, I cut back on the RR Tie Brown and increase the Grimy Black.) I then close the jar and shake well to thoroughly mix the pigments and water. Next, I put all of the stripwood into one or more ziplock bags and pour several ounces of the stain into the bag. The stripwood is left in the stain for up to 24 hours. I simply turn the bag (s) over every 4-6 hours to keep the pigments from settling out too much. Afterward, I remove the wood and let it dry thoroughly on newspaper and/or paper towels.

    After the wood has dried, I impart texture to it by scratching it with a wire scratch "pen" that I got from MicroMark. Sometimes I also use a dull razor saw on the wood. And I randomly split boards with my knife or dig "knotholes" with the knife point.

    Finally, if I want the wood to look really old and weathered, I dust it with Rembrandt Raw Umber and Gold Ochre chalks that I powder and apply with a soft brush.

    And that's pretty much it. Hope this helps you.

    Mike Chambers ("Casey")
  2. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    That's great Casey! I'm so glad you were forced to post this on the forum, so that we could all get a look at the techniques of a master! Thanks a lot.

    :D Val
  3. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Ya, thanks, Mike, I'm sure a lot of folks are glad to hear the secret formula!
  4. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

    Planks for the information

    Thanks Mike :D I have wondered how you get that great look ever since I saw the photos of your work. I was going to try building the structures and then painting them gray and weathering them, but this would be a poor substitute.

    Building board by board is just how I envisioned the process. I want to make some of the boards partiall rotten away, and so I have a question for you. What about cutting the boards after they are stained? Dose the stain go right through the wood, or do you have to touch up the end cuts?

    What I'm thinking is I should make and weather all the boards I want to use on a building and shape them first, then stain them. I could just make up a whole bunch of boards and then choose what board goes where.

    I was aloso wondering if you glue them together with white glue, or if you mabie used something else?

    In any case, I'm thrilled with your reply and I can't wait to try it out. I will let you know, of course, how things go.

    Thanks again Mike.

    Chris the TrainClown
  5. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Thanks Mike,

    I've copied you post and filed it with my other "how to" stuff.

  6. Re: Planks for the information

    Chris, I just touch up the exposed ends of the boards with a dab of black alcohol. It goes quickly, blends right in, and is seldom noticeable in person or in photos.

    The trouble with precutting/weathering your wood is that you will probably find during construction that you have to recut pieces to fit or that some shrank fractionally during drying and no longer are the proper length. What I would do in your case is stain/dry the stripwood first. Then cut each individual board to length, distress it with rot, breaks, knotholes, etc., and then glue it on. Repeat the process until you have an entire wall finished. Then touch up the exposed ends.

    But I would also offer this word of caution: unless you are trying to model a dilapidated or abandoned structure, it's easy to overdo the split/rotted/broken boards. Use the technique sparingly.

    Most of the time I just use plain old Elmer's white glue. Once in a while, if I think the structure might get wet while doing scenery around it, I'll use Elmer's waterproof exterior glue.
  7. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member


    I always try to throw a mite of levity into something. I knot stoopid or ignernt, but howsomever, after reedin' this stugh, fer yeers, I have never fully found out exactly whut stripwood is. I took some 1/4" wood and really shaved it thru a bandsaw. Is that anywhere near what strip wood is? Or is it from a craft store or LHS?

  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I've never seen an official definition, but I think "stripwood" is any wood that's too long and skinny to be a block of wood.
  9. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Re: stripwood

    Strip wood is the fractional lumber, scale or otherwise, found in craft stores and LHSs. On the other hand Lynn, you done it jes' lack us ol' fogies did it fer years 'n' years, 'fore all this stuff come ready made. Kinder refreshin' to see a yungin usin' they noggin 'stead o' they wallet once in a while.
  10. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member


    Hey dere Shaygetz
    Yoo yung whippersnappers do get a bit smart fer yer britches. Corse, I kant say much cause dese ole bones not able to carry a fat wallet. An' bout desited I needs to wear a casket over my hed sense sumtimes I feel dead fum the nek up.

    Anyway, thanks for the info. I have often wondered, and now the stripwood I make will be as good as any. I have some small chunks of mahogany, cherry, walnut, and several others so I can have fun now with legitimate experimentation.

  11. By Jove, I believe you're on to something! Just watch your fingers. :rolleyes:

    Stripwood is called that because it's literally strips of wood rather than sheets. Several months ago, the Gazette ran a side-bar article by Boone Morrison about cutting stripwood with a Micromark table saw. While I'd love to own one of those saws and make my own, I can buy lots and lots of ready-made stripwood for what the saw costs. :eek:
  12. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    You can cut your own stripwood using a regular tablesaw, following t. alexanders idea. That is with the blad lowered, you take a sheet of thin styrene and clamp it onto the table using the fence, then raise the spinning saw blade up to cut a slot in the plastic. I clamped the far end of the fence with a "C" clamp to hold hte plastic better. I also purchased the smallest, thinnest fine toothes blade that would (sort of) fit my saw. I use basswod from hobby lobby and for under $3, I get about $25 worth of scale lumber at LHS prices.

    My scale lumber in action!

    You can also purchase a cheaper version of the mico saw, which has no blad tilting feature, for about $110:
  13. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

    My goal in mind

    I thought I would post a pick of one of the buildings I want to model, just to give you all an idea of what I'm trying to do.

    I love those rotten buildings.

    Attached Files:

  14. mhdishere

    mhdishere Member

    Well Trainclown, I'd say that qualifies as a dilapidated structure! Kinda reminds me of the time I dumped that box of wooden toothpicks on the floor!
  15. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Wow TrainClown, imagine the history that structure could tell.
  16. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member


    I have to agree with you, TC. That picture is about as bad a bldg as I have seen that is still standing. Those type fascinate me for modeling because THAT is real life. I think a couple of those would make any layout true to life. A few small trees and lots of weeds, and bingo, it would fit any era.

  17. billk

    billk Active Member

    Re: stripwood

    But many more than a couple could get the layout condemned. :D
  18. That was my home just before the builder finished construction. As usual, he had to come back to take care of a few things after we moved in.... :D :D :rolleyes: :D
  19. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Hmm, that reminds me of a motel we stayed in once.:eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

  20. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

    Rotten to the core

    That moldy oldy is what is left of a school house. Here is what it looks like from the inside.

    That dern door is stuck again!

    Attached Files:

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