Author Topic: Scratchbuilding Basics  (Read 2235 times)

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Scratchbuilding Basics
« on: January 27, 2006, 03:37:10 PM »
I'm going to need to scratchbuild a number of modern era buildings for my N Scale layout and look forward to getting started.  I'm guessing I'll build most from styrene.  What basic tools do I need?  Can someone share a list?  What's the best place to purchase supplies?

As always, thanks for your help!


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Re: Scratchbuilding Basics
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2006, 04:36:11 PM »
Look this over. If you need to ask about tools and "how to's", suggest you purchase the book. it will pay for itself many times over if you build many models.


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Re: Scratchbuilding Basics
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2006, 08:26:28 AM »
You need a really good scale rule, something that will work as a straightedge as well.  I have a Flint N scale model rule that is indespensable.

You need something to work as a small  square.  And a tiny square; I find a Kadee coupler height gauge works well for the really small stuff.

Lots and lots of Xacto #2 blades, don't use a dull blade.  You'll be scoring and snapping more than cutting.

Files - a big high-quality flat file; long and wide, more for wood shop work than models, to true up long cuts.  Then all the tiny files to touch up edges. 

Evergreen is great stuff.  They also have assortment bags that are great values and have odd-sized pieces and parts.  I'm always astounded by the shapes and sizes that are available, and I tend to stockpile stuff like crazy so when I need it I probably already have it.

Drills - you'll do far better drilling out windows and openings and snapping them out, then filing them to shape, than trying to 'cut' them out.

Cement is an emotional issue, but I believe in STRONG bonds and I still use Testors orange. It will truly dissolve the stuff to make a bond, you have to learn to control it - also to let it dry and evaporate before you decide to try to remove any of it and smear stuff all over.

This baby is almost entirely styrene and Evergreen stock - this is the Chamber of Commerce building in Flagstaff, AZ, done from photos:

Windows are all scratchbuilt from strip material.  Lap siding, block sheet.  Vollmer shingle stock though.

And, when in doubt, reinforce. Youre better off cutting in .020 and reinforcing with .040 strip behind the cut part than trying to cut .060.  I also reinforce with a lot of basswood.   Laminated sheets and parts over larger surfaces tend to curl like crazy over time and should be avoided.



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Re: Scratchbuilding Basics
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2006, 09:11:38 PM »
I can second that last!  My first attempt at building a Lima ended when the sides curled around to the point that they made a tube.
Thanks much,
Mairi Dulaney, RHCE
Member, Free Software Foundation and Norfolk Southern Historical Society