Wood model making - Basic questions

• posted on August 31, 2005, 9:16 am

Hi,
I want to make small models of trains (passenger cars, cabooses, tanks etc.) from wood. I am very new in this and would like to know the following basic questions:
- How the scaling/measurement would be done - What type of wood would be needed for this - What type of hand tools/other tools would be required - What type of paint shall be used
I would be grateful if anyone could help me on this.
Thanking you in anticipation.
Regards,
Riz Abbasi
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• posted on August 31, 2005, 10:31 am
Hi Riz, An answer to one of your questions is a scaling wheel. It converts various scales. For example if you want 1 inch = 3 feet, you turn the inner wheel to a setting on the outer wheel and the proper conversions are shown on the reverse side. This saves a lot of calculating. Available at art/drafting supply stores. JG
Riz wrote:

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• posted on August 31, 2005, 12:01 pm
Thanks a lot for that.
Good day!
Riz
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• posted on August 31, 2005, 10:54 am

I'm not a miniaturist, so I can't give you experienced advice.
Having said that - Get the Micro-Mark catalog. http://www.micromark.com / They specialize in tools for miniatures and model builders.

There are standard scales used. Perhaps 1 inch == 1 foot (1:12 scale). This makes it easier to convert (6 feet = 6 inches).
But decide on the scale early on. You need to be consistent, and you need to find matching items. People, building, trees, barrels, etc. All are available at hobby shops if you pick the right scale.

Generally basswood. Balsa is too soft to work with. You can also get thin pieces of mahogany. But basswood is strong, light colored, and generally free of knots and imperfections.

A Dremel (or Foredom) tool can be very versatile. It can be a router, a drill press, a cut-off saw, etc.
For detail cutting, you can use a coping saw or jeweler's saw. There is a bench V block that is important. You clamp it onto your bench and it allows you to make fine cuts in thin wood.
One picture of such a device is
http://www.chronos.ltd.uk/acatalog/Sawclamp.jpg
Here's the one on Micro-mark:
http://www.ares-server.com/Ares/Ares.asp?MerchantID=RET01229&Action Κtalog&Type=Product&ID 127
I have never used them, but I would imagine a quality miniature table saw would be very useful. You can use a hand saw, but cutting a dozen pieces the same size would be difficult unless you had a jig to ensure the same dimensions. (i.e. a cross-cut table with stop blocks).
Micro-Mark has miniature table saws for small pieces. I've seen other saws at Woodcraft. Brand names are Microlux and Proxxon.
Here is another one site I googled: http://www.preac.com / They make miniature saws, sanders, etc.
I would imagine the small lathes for pens would be suitable for miniatures. They go for about \$50-\$250.
I would guess the first power tool you get in a dremel/foredom. Next, a table saw. I don't know your budget.

Check the Micro-mark catalog. I think they have videos. Some of the results they get are amazing. I love how they add weathering to the models - to make them look older.
There are special magazines and forums for scale model builders. Good luck. It looks like fun.
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• posted on August 31, 2005, 11:39 am
Thanks a lot for the detailed information.
Regards,
Riz Abbasi
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• posted on August 31, 2005, 1:13 pm
Riz wrote:

A couple of addons - I find a scroll saw much more useful for model parts. Go here and look at the Olson Scroll saw Blade collection -- that should tell you why...
http://tufftooth.com /
A knife for carving parts -- see Lee Valley I like the Veritas knife. http://www.leevalley.com/wood/Search.aspx?c=2&action=n
I got some flexcut knives for carving -- I also used them for making toy train cars and carving jewel box detail... www.woodcarve.netfirms.com http://www.woodcarve.netfirms.com/flex_cut_tool_introduction.htm
I got the palm tools that plug into a handle.
Architectural/engineering scale rulers are in my collection for drawing -- easy to use -- no conversion required as in the wheel idea.
And of course accurate drawing tools (compass, rulers, protractor) -- Staedler Mars or better... See Currys drafting tools. Proper selection of harder lead pencils etc... http://www.currys.com/indexeg.asp
Balsa may be light -- but it is stable and strong. Bass wood does deform with moisture -- at least on large parts -- as does white pine -- another relatively stable material in small pieces.
For carved parts Bass wood carves like cheese...
For colours look at acrylic paints -- see Curry's.
Lee valley also carries kits of the hard to find parts for cars, and trains and planes -- then you can supply the rest of the wood.
Look up kits, wheels, mechanical and mechanical book at Lee valley...
Kidder has model parts... good to deal with. http://www.kidder.ca /
See atlas Machinery on my web page for metal lathes, Taige lathes etc...
We have a King rotary tool -- but they don't have a router base -- so we got the dremel version with fences etc.
Someone here published a web link to model building site -- I have not seen him post in a while. Perhaps someone recalls the link..
Last but not least -- go to my links page -- I will be surprised if some of the other links don't pan out on something you need.
-- Will R. Jewel Boxes and Wood Art http://woodwork.pmccl.com The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. George Bernard Shaw
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• posted on August 31, 2005, 2:14 pm
[...]

Very good stability and workability for "sheet goods" you get from birch plywood, for model building you get from 3 plys and 0.8mm thichness upward in small (sheet of paper) sizes very stable stuff.
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Dr. Juergen Hannappel http://lisa2.physik.uni-bonn.de/~hannappe
mailto: snipped-for-privacy@physik.uni-bonn.de Phone: +49 228 73 2447 FAX ... 7869
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• posted on August 31, 2005, 4:02 pm
Nice day!
Riz
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• posted on August 31, 2005, 4:00 pm
Good day!
Riz
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• posted on August 31, 2005, 4:29 pm
Riz wrote:

Just make sure you post pictures when you build stuff... :-)
-- Will R. Jewel Boxes and Wood Art http://woodwork.pmccl.com The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. George Bernard Shaw
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• posted on August 31, 2005, 5:33 pm
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riz I would definately recomend the dremel, as was stated , lots of options and sanding attachments cutting and polishing etc, a scroll saw would be great too, if you have the cash to play with, I would also say LOOK at Xacto which has a full line of various types and sizes and blade combinations for knives for detailing as well as minnie mitre type hand saws and other stuff you would be interested in you might consider a minne vise to hole small parts and even some of those small spring clip clamps for glueing some partsnaturally with experiance and time you will coe up with other tools and inovations for your self... hopefully, you will look into finding some modelrairoading issues which usually features some scratch built items either rolling stock or stuff to make it look real, but its a great place to give you ideas or even compare your ideas to others :) along with all the working tools be sure you have great seating and bench to work on and great lighting it can make all the differance in the world.. as far as paint goes you can use anything from model paint to an airbrush and even spray rustoleum if you play around and experiment (think outsode the spray paint box a little ) and use stuff around the house to age or detail .. etc paint say a tank car with red primer lightly dont try to cover it totally, and then overspray with the "car color" leaving areas of rust colored primer showing through once that drys use like some charcol , some ash tray ashes or fireplace ashes to tone down the newness of the paints think artistictly a tanker might have spill streaks around the dome with years of spills of nasty chemicals the paint might be attacked and paintless metal rusts in streaks ... that is the finer art of modeling , making them look real..!! make sure you have lots of fun doing them .. and yes take some pics and post em!!!
Justin
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• posted on August 31, 2005, 6:00 pm
Fer chrissssakes, Dude ... turn off the HTML!
Thanks ...
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Last update: 8/29/05
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• posted on August 31, 2005, 11:18 am
"Riz" wrote in message

In case you're not acquainted with some of the often useless, Google centric, replies you see on these forums, Bruce took the time to do a remarkably thorough job of answering all your questions.
... he didn't leave much left to add, except to appreciate his advice and take it to heart.
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Last update: 8/29/05
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• posted on August 31, 2005, 11:43 am
Regards,
Riz Abbasi
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• posted on August 31, 2005, 11:47 am
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• posted on August 31, 2005, 5:39 pm
Although not for trains, the ship model FAQ (http://home.att.net/~ShipModelFAQ /) has a number of items you might find of use (e.g., scale calculators, etc.)
John Kopf
Riz wrote: