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About once a year, I decide to make a “something from nothing” project, usu- ally when I knock over the scrap strip- wood jar and cleaning it up gets me to thinking. I can make a shed. Wow, the last of the original thinkers! The dog- gone railroad(s) already have a dozen or so, and I need another shed like a hole in the head. Oh well, sheds are quick and fun. Besides, there is always room for one more somewhere. It is fun to have a mindless project to wile away a rainy Sunday afternoon, and it’s fun to shuffle around in the various scrap boxes to reacquaint yourself with all those treasures (well, maybe). When starting a new scratchbuilding

project I try to follow a routine that I have found to be successful, thus rarely stray far from it. First and foremost, I do my homework (or due diligence) and learn as much as I need to about the project I’m about to embark upon. I lo- cate articles in the model press, seek out drawings, or (Gulp!) make a set of my own. I assemble the walls and roof in my mind, plotting out how every- thing will go together, generally doing a scratchbuilding feature article in my head. This usually takes fifteen to thir- ty minutes. I don’t write it, I think it. Now I’m ready to make a mess—but wait! The next thing I do is clean up the workbench. The last project has scat- tered tools, materials, and general de- bris to the outer reaches of the bench- top, rendering it virtually useless. I put away the tools, sort the scrap into save and discard, sweep the floor, and gen- erally ready the surface for another round of destruction. When I sweep the floor, I get down on my knees and in- spect the sweepings. Care to guess how

much useable stuff I’ve found down there? This is the reason a bare 100 watt light hangs under the workbench. Now I’m ready to rock—but not yet. Now I seek out everything (and I

mean everything) I will need to see the project to its completion. That is not just the wall and roof materials, with the attendant windows, and doors. Everything means everything: all the little details, window treatments, foun- dation materials, paint, glue and blades. Now study the photos, and/or drawings, and search for those compo- nents you’ve missed (lighting?) and lay all that stuff out, too. Do not start the project until you have everything. The old “Oh, I’ll get those later” will shelve the project indefinitely and waste a lot of your valuable hobby time. I have saved a lot of pre-stained lum-

ber over the years, tending to over-do counts by about ten percent: no sense in running out with two boards to go. With the individual board-type build-

ings I do use boards from ¹/₁₆″ in HO to ¹/₄″ in O, plus all the sizes in between. Most of the backing for these walls is .030″ chipboard (cardstock) braced with ³/₁₆″ (or better) basswood strips. I have a cardstock collection that could choke a horse. At one time I bought a 50-sheet package of .040″ “art-board” from an art supply house (Dick Blick, I believe) and still have most of it. The adhesive of choice here is cyanoacrylate gel most of the time and yellow carpenter’s glue when I’m low on the gel. Do not be afraid to use more than one

size of stripwood for your walls; just make sure you adjust the fits so the thing stays square. Many a prototype shed was built from leftover lumber, much as we are doing here.

When immersed in a larger project,

go to the scrap box first for the smaller wall and roof components before break- ing into a new sheet. Porch roofs, lean- to roofs and such may well be in the scrap box. The same random pattern can hold true for fencing, as well. I don’t think I have ever built a fence from new material. A lot of platforms are also wood of random sizes. You may need a light overall wash of stain to blend the wood from all those past pro- jects, which will avoid a zebra-like look of too many shades of boards. All kinds of little details can be made

from the cut-offs and leavings of a more serious project. Add a lean-to or porch to an existing structure. How about a coal bin, which can be

crafted in almost any size and out of those thicker pieces? Tie piles and stacks of other assorted sizes of lumber can be made up quickly. Fifteen min- utes of work will add more than you think to a scene. Do this enough and the results will be worth those little snippets of time. Very small structures, like outhous-

es, can be made by sawing up a 1″×4″ to the appropriate shape, then applying the wall covering, be it wood or tin. Whenever I do a sheet tin roof out of styrene (corrugated), I slice off a 2′-0″ (actual, I buy the 12″×24″ sheets) strip the width I need (prototypically 24″ to 48″) and chop the pieces to scale lengths (eight to twelve feet) in an NWSL Chopper. I do the math for the amount I need, then add ten percent. Well, those ten percents sure add up. I now just cut what I need minus ten percent so I can use up some of my scraps. Next month we’ll go into detailing. That should be fun.

Two examples of scrapbox projects: the log hauler’s tracks and boiler came from a mili- tary tank kit and HO 0-4-0T, respectively, while the shed (right) uses odd bits of siding.


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