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I would be tempted to buy a quality wood kit, do the research while you're building the structure and apply that knowledge to your future scratch building projects.
 

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The most common wood used is basswood. It is sold in sheets and strips of varying dimensions. Any well-stocked hobby store will have a variety; many craft stores carry it as well.

Why do you assume that you need to use wood, though? What about styrene? You probably have 10x as many options, including textures like brick, stone, clapboard, corrugated metal, more. Styrene isn't hard to work with at all, and it's just as readily available as basswood, maybe more so.

You will need a good selection of tools to make buildings: a razor saw, hobby knife, square, scale ruler, clamps, clamps, and more clamps (you can never have too many), including either some right angle clamps or a square gluing jig; pin vise and bits, files / sanding sticks, etc. Scratch building (as it's called) is a very rewarding part of the hobby, if you have the tool bench to pull it off.
 

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Micromark has a nice selection of tools and supplies for model building. https://www.micromark.com/

For kits, search Model Trains/Structures.

If you want to scratch build something out of wood, search under Hobby Supplies/Wood.

You might want to page through their catalog (click at the top of their home page) to get some ideas and to see all the stuff that’s available for modeling.
 

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You are very wise to decide to create your
own buildings. You'll have many satisfying
moments.

The typical hobby shop local or on line has a large
selection of materials that you will want to use. You'll
find both Bassword and Balsa. Basswood preferred
but balsa is satisfactory. Both come in near
scale lumber of various sizes.

Look also at the various construction materials
in plastic. You'll find windows, doors, girders,
stairs as well as walls of brick, and other finishes,
roofing and other items. You can save various
clear plastic food packaging to be used as window glass.

But, one of the first things to buy is a scale ruler.
You can use your tape or yardstick to get actual
measurements in feet and inches. Then use your
scale ruler in HO (or whatever scale) feet and inches.
You'll also want the various hobby tools as suggested.

Look for a typical track side small structure as your
first project. Get measurements if possible, else
estimate it's dimensions. Draw a simple plan then
cut and glue it all together. Your next project
might be a bit larger, maybe a small retail store
or 'Fix it' shop. Hold off on big structures like
Mines, large factories and the like until you feel
you can handle them.

Look in the crafts section at Walmart, Michael's
or Hobby Lobby for inexpensive water based
paints. Buy the basic colors and mix them in
mid size bottle caps. They'll also have a cheap
set of tiny brushes. You'll find toothpicks are
good stirrers and useful for tiny detail painting.

I like to use the 1/4" paper covered foam also
available at the craft sections as a work base
that you can use stick pens to hold your work
steady.

Don
 

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Styrene isn't hard to work with at all, and it's just as readily available as basswood, maybe more so.
Just an observation, I have been in Michael's, Hobby Lobby, Joanne's, and some other hobby and craft stores. I have never seen styrene for sale, but have seen bass and balsa wood in those stores and others. I'm not saying it's not out there, I've just never seen it.
 

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My own opinion is that styrene is easier to work with and also stronger. And yeah, having all the stamped panels of different textures really makes it easy to put out a nice looking item. As an example, here's the first building I ever scratch-built. The grey parts were purchased from Tichy, the white siding was a sheet I got from the local hobby store, and the arches I made by bending some small styrene and gluing it in place.



After a bit of painting and adding some details, I ended up with this (steps were added under the door soon after, I just don't have a good picture that includes them).


There's a lot of folks here who can give you great ideas on how to achieve the look of the various materials, but mostly it comes down to just choosing a building you want to model, find some materials to get started, and just dive in.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks y’all i want to model my grandfathers old service station and sawmill and then add the plant where my wife works not looking to do anything elaborate just something i can stay busy with through the winter. My next question is there anything out there they will make the signs i really want to use he true names of all the businesses
 

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If you have a printer you can make any sign you want on your computer. It can be a real challenge trying to match the exact font used for your grandfather's original signs but if you have any clear photographs you can probably scan one into the computer and crop the image down to only the sign itself. Then just print it at whatever size works for your model.

If you're not handy with the computer but you do have a copy of a photograph you can share here, one of us will be happy to help out.
 

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Just an observation, I have been in Michael's, Hobby Lobby, Joanne's, and some other hobby and craft stores. I have never seen styrene for sale, but have seen bass and balsa wood in those stores and others. I'm not saying it's not out there, I've just never seen it.
Really? Both Michael's and AC Moore near me have both, and the two hobby shops near me have 3 or 4 racks of styrene, as opposed to one of basswood.

Add in the internet, and your options are wide open.
 
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