Scratchbuilding With Card, Styrene and Texture Sheets

Now things are settling down after the house move I’ll soon have the space I need to actually start making some model structures so I thought I’d do a quick post on some of the techniques and materials that I intend to use when scratchbuilding structures.

Plan and tools by Ian Robins – Own work, CC BY-NC 2.0, View Image

I’ve built some simple structures from styrene in the past but I’ve been following a thread by grahame over on RMWeb forum that discusses card and styrene structure scratchbuilding; after seeing the amazing results he achieves, incredibly quickly too, I know I’d like to give card building a go.

Graham use mount board to build the core of the structure and styrene is added for details such as window glass, window frames, downpipes and guttering.

Most builders recommend using a mount-board that is less than 2mm thick, using double layers if necessary and adding floors and ceilings to help re-enforce the walls. Any cut-edges can be sealed with super glue and entire surfaces can be coated with a sealant such as shellac to prevent warping that can be caused by changes in humidity.

Graham also uses Redotex sheets for details such as slate roofs, corrugated iron and paving. Apart from the slate, these are all materials that would be quite difficult to replicate realistically any other way in N scale. The sheets are available in a wide range of scales and although relatively expensive compared to the other materials involved do look very convincing.

When I’ve had a go at either card or styrene scratchbuilding in the past I’ve struggled with making accurate, neat corners. When designing, I’d usually fail to account for the overlap at corners or have to use butt joints but this time I’ve purchased in a Jakar mount cutter so I can cut 45 degree angles into the mount board for nice, clean corners.

The mount cutter should also be useful for cutting straight edges but being quite large I’m not sure how useful it will be for cutting smaller details like window openings.

I’ll let you know how I get on, but now it’s time to get building…

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