The Use of Wood in Scale Models




About: Retired, doing art work now. Great. Have the time and the money to spend doing what I want to do.

I recently revived an interest in making scale models. It is a facinating art form, one that keeps me busy for hours on end, and the results, I feel, are extremely satisfying and fulfilling. Virtually any building can be turned into a scale model and I have used some real structures for inspiration. Please see:Scale-Model-of-Historic-Building-Courthouse A previous project ,for a sample of historical model making.

Step 1: Tools, Materials, Techniques, Etc.

I have a well equipped tool shop and art room stocked with all kinds of tools, materials, paint, glue, lights, etc. It is a very rare occasion when I have to go to a store to obtain more material, although at times I do run out. With all of these aids, and a vivid imagination, it is possible to do many projects! Pine wood is the wood of choice, and I use mat board, corrugated cardboard, craft paper, cereal box cardboard, dowels and other materials as needed.

Step 2: Taking Inspiration From Real Life

All of the scale models shown (with the exception of the gas station) are models taken out of my past. This made the project even more enjoyable, and nostalgic. Imagine rebuilding your youth! (If only, eh?) Hopefully, I've captured some of the imagery and ambiance of that previous time.

Step 3: Framing and Supporting

Detailed pictures of the framing used are presented in this step. The wood pieces add strength and character to the buildings.

Step 4: Chimney, Flagpoles, Columns, Etc

Smaller pieces are made and added as needed. Here a variety of objects are shown. Making them just involves cutting pieces of wood into shapes and sizes to fit objects.

Step 5: Making Telephone/power Poles

These are really fun to make and add a lot to the scene. To make them, I used 5/15" dowels, with cross ties cut from pine stock. Here, the precise cutting of the table saw is employed. Insulators are the heads of 4 or 6 penny finishing nails. A base is made from thin wood, drilled and shaped to hold poles. The base and pole are glued to cardboard pieces to ensue stability when moving and placing poles. Also shown is the transformer,made from a large diameter dowel, probably 1/2". Poles are painted with acrylics; burnt umber, country tan, and raw sienna is used. For wiring, I am using floral wire and/or heavy thread to simulate the wires.

Step 6: Building a Gate

Step 7: Adding Street Furniture

To add realism to a scene, small parts are needed; I call this street furniture. Shown are a lamp post, fire hydrant, and various other items usually seen on the street. The lamp post is made of a wood dowel, topped with a bead, and inserted into a wood base that has been drilled to accept it. For the service station, it needed air conditioning, and some vents, flues, etc.

Step 8: A Quick and Fun Nordic Village Scene

Made after seeing this on Instructables:Nordic Christmas village. This was a fun little project and gave a reprieve from the intensity of so much concentration on creating all the other scale models.

Step 9: A Diorama to Follow!

I will post another instructable depicting the ranch shown in pieces here. It is a diorama entitled "The Ranch At Grizzly Flats."

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    12 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Awesome models, may try some of these techniques on my model railroad

    how did you make the siding for the barn?

    3 replies

    Thanks, I think these techniques would allow for great models for railroads, city scapes, archetecturial models, etc. For the barn, I made the panels first, then cut thin strips from cardstock or thin chipboard. It's one piece at a time, but it's good use of time!

    Barn1 (32).JPG

    Oh, I see

    I may try that technique for a warehouse or something of that nature

    Here are some of the buildings I have made, i do a lot with popsicle sticks


    4 years ago

    Am I the only one that notices it uses the word "wood" and has a lubrication station?

    Uncle Kudzu

    4 years ago

    what a cool pursuit! makes me wish I had some tools for such.

    I've thought that it might be nice to have some scale buildings as models for paint studies. and I would like to make a nativity of some sort for Christmas; your fine instructable inspires me. Good Stuff!

    1 reply