OLD WEST BUILDINGS: A STEP BY STEP BUILDING GUIDE


by David Marshall
of
TM Terrain


1) When making a number of buildings decide on any common design features such as height for each storey (I use 40mm) and standard sizes of windows and doors (I use 3 sizes of window and l size of door). I found this helpful when inspiration was lacking as I had a set of 'rules' to follow.

2) Design building on 5mm squared paper drawing all walls and including all windows and doors. The more time and care spent on design the easier it should be later on in construction as many problems can be solved at this stage. When I rushed at this point I often found bits were the wrong size and windows and doors in the wrong place!

3) Transfer design onto 5mm foam board by laying it on top of the board and sticking pins through each corner of every wall, window and door on the plan, making sure the paper doesn't move. When completed the foam board is full of little holes. It is worth joining the holes up with pencil because if you don't, when you come to cut the pieces out the pin points disappear and it becomes impossible to cut them out accurately. (I learnt from bitter experience)

4) Cut out the walls and all window and door holes (using a sharp modelling knife and a metal ruler. The knife blade seems to blunt fairly quickly so be ready with some spares.)

5) Cut out a base from MDF. This gives the building rigidity, prevents warping and makes it easier to glue the walls together. I cut the base so it fits inside the walls rather than the walls sitting on top of the base. I also extend it in front of the house to give the building a walk way. (When designing the house allow for the MDF extending underneath the front wall by making the front wall shorter than the rest of the wall by the depth of the MDF)

6) Glue windows and doors castings in position flush with the outside of the foam board.

7) Paint outside walls, windows and doors black. This is important if you plan to plank the walls as gaps will appear between the WOOD if these gaps are white it rains the whole effect and it is very difficult to paint these gaps without getting the paint all over the wood.

8) Decide on how you will finish the walls. if you are planking it using horizontal planks draw lines at regular intervals parallel to the base of the walls. This makes it easy to keep the wood running level with the ground. (this isn't so important if planking vertically).

9) Glue the house together with PVA glue using the MDF base as the foundation (use pins if necessary to hold the joints together until the glue hardens which should be only a couple of hours)

10) Stick the trim on the walls. This includes window frames, corner trim and around the top of the front if you want to.

11) Glue the wood planks on the walls using PVA glue (WARNING: PVA repels wood stain so be careful with it you plan to stain the planks.

I use 3 styles of planking:

A) Start at the bottom and overlap each piece as you move up the wall (use 1/64th plywood) I think this is called Clapboard.
B) Lay wood side by side horizontally or vertically(use 1/64th plywood or obechi). Age it by cutting it to different lengths use different widths and cut holes in it etc.
C) Cover wall with a single sheet of balsa wood and then add vertical planks at even intervals(using 1/64th plywood).

It is best to stick the balsa on between stages 4 and 5 above and cut window holes before the windows are stuck in.

This process can be very fiddly but is very rewarding, because by the time you have finished you have a house fully planked and really starting to look the part.

12) Paint or stain it. I will tell you how I do it but it is very much personal taste.

I use Liberon wood stain. They are waterbased and can be easily diluted and mixed. There is a big range of colors so take your choice. I use Georgian Mahogany (very dark) and Medium Oak. I give the wood two coats and then wash it over with an acrylic burnt umber (I wash everything with this paint including figures as it makes everything blend in). Once dry I dry brush- tightly brushing over the wall with hardly any paint on the brush. This highlights detail as well as give a dusty weathered look with Colour Parties Buckskin and then again but more heavily with Unbleached Linen. The more weathered the desire effect the more dry brushing I do.

If I paint the building I use whatever waterbased paint I have available in the color I want (including white emulsion ). I use waterbased paint purely because of the lack of smell and fumes. I then wash and weather it just as I do with the staining method.

13) The roof

Most of the roofs I use are detachable so I make them out of mounting card with lots of inside support to maintain its shape and give it strength

I use two main finishes:

A) Shingled roof (wooden tiles)- paint the base card black and draw lines at regular intervals parallel to the top of the roof just the same as on the walls. The next stage is probably the most laborious part of the whole project. Starting at the bottom stick individual shingles (see end of article to find out how to make them) in lines across the roof with each line overlapping the last as you move up the roof(cover a small area of card with glue rather than putting glue on each tile).Use a pointed modeling knife to pick the shingles up (I prick them lightly with the point). Once all stuck on stain and dry brush just as with the walls.

B) Tar paper roof- take a piece of paper hanky and lay it on top of the card roof and carefully paint it completely with diluted PVA glue. This naturally creates creases arid folds which look great when painted( When the glue is dry trim off any overhanging bits of paper and stick on any wooden battens. Finally paint and dry brush as before. One last note on this sort of roof if you make it detachable. It is very difficult to stop it warping. I have tried using double layers of corrugated cardboard (instead of mounting card) and putting reinforcing wooden strips on the underside of the roof Nothing really worked so unfortunately I live with slightly warped tar papered roofs.

Following these steps should give you a good looking wooded building ready to be used in any Wild West town or many ACW encounters, but here are a couple of ideas for adding some detail.

Shop signs- I write them out on the computer using a variety of type faces but instead of printing them out at lull strength I print them so I can just see them.

I then stick it on to mounting card and paint the text the color I want. Once dry I wash over the area with a watered down lighter color to fill in the background. I don't worry about going over the text as it all helps to age the sign. When all that is dry I wash it all with burnt umber and dry brush as before. Finally cut it out to size, put a wooden frame around it and a wooden backing (if you can see the back of it when stuck on the building) and finally stick it in place.

Chimneys- Cut plastic tubing to shape. Undercoat black and paint with gun metal and silver.

Once the building is based and finished I add barrels, boxes, piles of wood, pots and pans etc. to give it a used arid cluttered look. The building is now finished and should look just like the ones you see in the movies!!

GOOD LUCK

APPENDIX

1/64th plywood comes in pieces 3Ocm wide so needs work to make useable shingles and planks.

Shingles- cut a one foot square piece of plywood and using masking tape (it is white and so easy to see small pieces that may be left on the wood once the shingles have been cut out) stick it onto a sheet of 5mm squared paper so the paper overlaps the wood on all four edges. The squares on the paper now make an excellent ruler to mark off 5mm x 10mm shingles. Next, gently score the wood (by running a modeling knife along the it so it doesn't actually cut through the wood) at 10mm intervals, scoring across the grain and then cut the wood into 5mm strips 9O degrees to the scoring. This should leave you with about sixty one foot long planks scored at lOmm intervals all along their length. It is then easy to break the planks into individual shingles.

To produce planks do everything as above except for the scoring.

This article was originally part of the 'Derby Wargames Society' pages, and was recovered from the Aether using The Internet Archive

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