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Hello all, I have been working on a Heljan brewery kit and didn’t like the loading dock. I built one from balsa and did some staining but it warped after sitting about and fully drying. I was able to cut it apart and restraighten every board but whats best way to avoid in future? Thanks for any tips. Here’s pic of it fixed and one I’m replacing
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Did you you coat the entire structure or only one side. Its possible that coating just the face or visible side and not the back would cause things to warp.
I did both sides at same time but long supports curved enough to pull it away from building a 1/4 inch :rolleyes: I had thought glue was dried but perhaps not. My flooring did the same as well and I had to glue cross braces and put weights on to get it to lay down so perhaps the water based stain is culprit as MichaelE suggested..
 

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Using an acrylic wood sealant will often prevent warping when paint / stain is applied, but they also affect how the wood takes stain.

You can also weight the wood as it dries. This is easier if you stain the pieces FIRST, then assemble the stained pieces.
 
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I "see" several problems here,but all are easily solved by using the right materials and procedures.
1.) DON'T use balsa for this type work, especially where you are going to stain rather than paint. Balsa is soft, easy to work with and readily available but it is better left to the model airplane guys. It warps very easily. should never get near any water. (we use a lot of water in building our layouts!), should not be assembled with white or yellow glue. Use "hardwood" instead, usually sold right next to the balsa, or available inexpensively from MRR scratch building suppliers in scale sizes. (I even sometimes buy some of the old kits that were started or are missing parts that still contain a lot of scale stripwood, just for the wood). A free source of boards like you used are the thin wood coffee stirrers available at many places where you buy coffee. If they are too wide for your project, you can cut them down with a new single edge razor blade or hobby knife guided by a metal straight edge. Making a simple jig is worth the couple extra minutes if you need to split a quantity. If you need boards exactly 1/2 the stirrer width, rather than split them, just draw a line down the middle with a sharp hard lead (H) pencil.
2.) DON'T use water based stains or paints on the raw wood. Check the stain label, if it says to thin or clean up with water, put it back. You can make a very good stain ( and very useful dark wash to bring out textures and variations in all kinds of modeling materials) that is quick drying and will cause minimal warping by adding a tablespoon or two of black india ink (NOT the new acrylic ones) in a pint of isopropyl alcohol from the drug store. You can make several color variations by adding a couple drops of brown and/or green India ink to a portion of the black wash. A quick way to use this for your unassembled stripwood is the put the cut to size wood in a ziplock freezer weight bag, add the wash to the bag and slosh around for a couple minutes. Remove the pieces and lay on some paper towels to dry for about 1/2 hr. Check the color after dry. You can re-stain some or all to darken more or give a sloshing in plain alcohol to remove some color. After fully dry (no more alcohol odor) you are ready to assemble. If you are planning to add a clear top coat coat like dullcoat or pledge floor finish, test this on the dry wood as it will darken the color.
3.) DON'T use white or yellow alaphatic resin glue (Elmers or Titebond) to assemble unsealed wood. They contain water which can also warp the wood. Don't use Gorrilla glue as it foams and expands as it cures. I suggest using a medium CA glue, used sparingly so it doesn't ooze onto the surface.
4.) If you are going to paint the wood with acrylic paints, seal both sides and all edges with a light coat of rattlecan automotive primer before assembly.
5.) If after all precautions, the wood still warps, don't despair, simply give the wood a couple spritzes of water and clamp or weight it flat until completely dry, at least 24 hrs.
 

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I "see" several problems here,but all are easily solved by using the right materials and procedures.
1.) DON'T use balsa for this type work, especially where you are going to stain rather than paint. Balsa is soft, easy to work with and readily available but it is better left to the model airplane guys. It warps very easily. should never get near any water. (we use a lot of water in building our layouts!), should not be assembled with white or yellow glue. Use "hardwood" instead, usually sold right next to the balsa, or available inexpensively from MRR scratch building suppliers in scale sizes. (I even sometimes buy some of the old kits that were started or are missing parts that still contain a lot of scale stripwood, just for the wood). A free source of boards like you used are the thin wood coffee stirrers available at many places where you buy coffee. If they are too wide for your project, you can cut them down with a new single edge razor blade or hobby knife guided by a metal straight edge. Making a simple jig is worth the couple extra minutes if you need to split a quantity. If you need boards exactly 1/2 the stirrer width, rather than split them, just draw a line down the middle with a sharp hard lead (H) pencil.
2.) DON'T use water based stains or paints on the raw wood. Check the stain label, if it says to thin or clean up with water, put it back. You can make a very good stain ( and very useful dark wash to bring out textures and variations in all kinds of modeling materials) that is quick drying and will cause minimal warping by adding a tablespoon or two of black india ink (NOT the new acrylic ones) in a pint of isopropyl alcohol from the drug store. You can make several color variations by adding a couple drops of brown and/or green India ink to a portion of the black wash. A quick way to use this for your unassembled stripwood is the put the cut to size wood in a ziplock freezer weight bag, add the wash to the bag and slosh around for a couple minutes. Remove the pieces and lay on some paper towels to dry for about 1/2 hr. Check the color after dry. You can re-stain some or all to darken more or give a sloshing in plain alcohol to remove some color. After fully dry (no more alcohol odor) you are ready to assemble. If you are planning to add a clear top coat coat like dullcoat or pledge floor finish, test this on the dry wood as it will darken the color.
3.) DON'T use white or yellow alaphatic resin glue (Elmers or Titebond) to assemble unsealed wood. They contain water which can also warp the wood. Don't use Gorrilla glue as it foams and expands as it cures. I suggest using a medium CA glue, used sparingly so it doesn't ooze onto the surface.
4.) If you are going to paint the wood with acrylic paints, seal both sides and all edges with a light coat of rattlecan automotive primer before assembly.
5.) If after all precautions, the wood still warps, don't despair, simply give the wood a couple spritzes of water and clamp or weight it flat until completely dry, at least 24 hrs.
Good info.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
@scenicsRme Thanks for the info very much appreciated.
 

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Hello all, I have been working on a Heljan brewery kit and didn’t like the loading dock. I built one from balsa and did some staining but it warped after sitting about and fully drying. I was able to cut it apart and restraighten every board but whats best way to avoid in future? Thanks for any tips. Here’s pic of it fixed and one I’m replacing
That picture looks nice?
I have been on a lot of old loading docks in my travels. Some had grooves in them from all the hand carts being run over them.
Like RR tracks. :)
You going to keep those 3 or 4 new planks that color? Like they just replaced them?
Looking good.(y)
The warping?
I would try the weight method somehow.
Depending on what your using, some dry a lot quicker then others.
Do you have pictures of the warped ones?
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
That picture looks nice?
I have been on a lot of old loading docks in my travels. Some had grooves in them from all the hand carts being run over them.
Like RR tracks. :)
You going to keep those 3 or 4 new planks that color? Like they just replaced them?
Looking good.(y)
The warping?
I would try the weight method somehow.
Depending on what your using, some dry a lot quicker then others.
Do you have pictures of the warped ones?
The warping I fixed pre photo the stringers under decking curved on me taking dock away from building :rolleyes:
I like the travel wear idea will dry brush some tracks once I attach To building final position.
i tried staining cpl colors,leaving bare a few planks for exactly that replaced look.
Made a cpl rookie mistakes with water base stain and some of wood was indeed balsa.
Glad i found the forums getting edumakated preset quick :)
Lookin forward to picking folks brains and improving my modeling
 

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The warping I fixed pre photo the stringers under decking curved on me taking dock away from building :rolleyes:
I like the travel wear idea will dry brush some tracks once I attach To building final position.
i tried staining cpl colors,leaving bare a few planks for exactly that replaced look.
Made a cpl rookie mistakes with water base stain and some of wood was indeed balsa.
Glad i found the forums getting edumakated preset quick :)
Lookin forward to picking folks brains and improving my modeling
Basswood (not balsa) & model aircraft plywood are my favorite materials for wood structures. The structures in the first six photos are all scratchbuilt from basswood and aircraft plywood, though the engine house has some brass, and PC board inside.
Either basswood, or aircraft plywood, would be more warp-resistant than balsa wood, but taking the precautions the others have suggested is also a good idea.

For coloring, I use either Tamiya (alcohol based) model paint, and/or chalks. Dragging different color chalk sticks across the wood planks produces a nice effect. You can blend, and tone down, the colors with a toothbrush, or your finger.
I also "paint" some plastic models with chalks by dragging a wet artist's type paintbrush along a chalk stick and painting the chalk/water mix onto the model. To avoid warping wood models, I would suggest using 91% alcohol on the brush, rather than water.
This "paint with chalks" method is great for weathering. The freight cars on the rail barge in the last two photos don't have any paint (other than the factory finish) on them. The weathering is all done with chalks.

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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@traction fan Very nice looking models! Love the details and scale. Love the open engine house and covered bridge. The others are eye catching as well with the worn roofing feeling and their worn look. I could spend hours just admiring the structures.
I have read on the chalks a bit and have some incoming so tips much appreciated. I’ve been using Vallejo water based paints so far on the plastics and was wondering best for wood kits next in my queue. I have a couple alcohol India ink stains and then perhaps chalk or a tamiya or other wood friendly paint.
Thank you very much for sharing the pics always looking for inspiration and these sure gave me some :)
 

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I "see" several problems here,but all are easily solved by using the right materials and procedures.
1.) DON'T use balsa for this type work, especially where you are going to stain rather than paint. Balsa is soft, easy to work with and readily available but it is better left to the model airplane guys. It warps very easily. should never get near any water. (we use a lot of water in building our layouts!), should not be assembled with white or yellow glue. Use "hardwood" instead, usually sold right next to the balsa, or available inexpensively from MRR scratch building suppliers in scale sizes. (I even sometimes buy some of the old kits that were started or are missing parts that still contain a lot of scale stripwood, just for the wood). A free source of boards like you used are the thin wood coffee stirrers available at many places where you buy coffee. If they are too wide for your project, you can cut them down with a new single edge razor blade or hobby knife guided by a metal straight edge. Making a simple jig is worth the couple extra minutes if you need to split a quantity. If you need boards exactly 1/2 the stirrer width, rather than split them, just draw a line down the middle with a sharp hard lead (H) pencil.
2.) DON'T use water based stains or paints on the raw wood. Check the stain label, if it says to thin or clean up with water, put it back. You can make a very good stain ( and very useful dark wash to bring out textures and variations in all kinds of modeling materials) that is quick drying and will cause minimal warping by adding a tablespoon or two of black india ink (NOT the new acrylic ones) in a pint of isopropyl alcohol from the drug store. You can make several color variations by adding a couple drops of brown and/or green India ink to a portion of the black wash. A quick way to use this for your unassembled stripwood is the put the cut to size wood in a ziplock freezer weight bag, add the wash to the bag and slosh around for a couple minutes. Remove the pieces and lay on some paper towels to dry for about 1/2 hr. Check the color after dry. You can re-stain some or all to darken more or give a sloshing in plain alcohol to remove some color. After fully dry (no more alcohol odor) you are ready to assemble. If you are planning to add a clear top coat coat like dullcoat or pledge floor finish, test this on the dry wood as it will darken the color.
3.) DON'T use white or yellow alaphatic resin glue (Elmers or Titebond) to assemble unsealed wood. They contain water which can also warp the wood. Don't use Gorrilla glue as it foams and expands as it cures. I suggest using a medium CA glue, used sparingly so it doesn't ooze onto the surface.
4.) If you are going to paint the wood with acrylic paints, seal both sides and all edges with a light coat of rattlecan automotive primer before assembly.
5.) If after all precautions, the wood still warps, don't despair, simply give the wood a couple spritzes of water and clamp or weight it flat until completely dry, at least 24 hrs.
I think brown shoe polish would be a lot faster and work just as well.
 

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I think brown shoe polish would be a lot faster and work just as well.
That's an idea, but paste wax will never really dry, and will affect the ability of the wood to take other finishes. And the water based stuff, well now you're back to warping....
 
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@traction fan Very nice looking models! Love the details and scale. Love the open engine house and covered bridge. The others are eye catching as well with the worn roofing feeling and their worn look. I could spend hours just admiring the structures.
I have read on the chalks a bit and have some incoming so tips much appreciated. I’ve been using Vallejo water based paints so far on the plastics and was wondering best for wood kits next in my queue. I have a couple alcohol India ink stains and then perhaps chalk or a tamiya or other wood friendly paint.
Thank you very much for sharing the pics always looking for inspiration and these sure gave me some :)
Raege;

Thanks for the kind words.
I don't know much about the chemistry of Vallejo paint. CTValley uses it and does great work. Tamiya is often considered "water -based" but it smells like alcohol, thins with alcohol, and has "caution flammable" printed on the bottles. I think its advertised as "soap & water cleanup" rather than water based. It may have some water in it as does 70% alcohol for that mater 70% alcohol 30% water. So while I have not had warping problems using Tamiya on wood, the sealer primer advice is still valid.

Traction Fan
 

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Raege;

Thanks for the kind words.
I don't know much about the chemistry of Vallejo paint. CTValley uses it and does great work. Tamiya is often considered "water -based" but it smells like alcohol, thins with alcohol, and has "caution flammable" printed on the bottles. I think its advertised as "soap & water cleanup" rather than water based. It may have some water in it as does 70% alcohol for that mater 70% alcohol 30% water. So while I have not had warping problems using Tamiya on wood, the sealer primer advice is still valid.

Traction Fan
Vallejo Acrylics are fully water based. They don't have much odor for the brush painting lines; the ones intended for airbrush use have a slight floral odor to them. While you can thin them with water, I tend to use their branded thinners, because it seems to work better. Their thinner for brush paint is simply the un-tinted acrylic base that the paints are made from. Not sure what is in the airbrush thinner, but the brush paints thinned with that stuff airbrush on perfectly. Their airbrush lines are applied right out of the bottle; no thinning required.

I have painted wooden structures with them, and they work fine for that (no warping of the wood); however, the woods that we typically use for our structures are porous and absorb a lot of paint, so the finish looks better if you seal the wood with an acrylic wood sealant first.
 
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I realize this is a month old, but did not see it previously.

Another idea that I didn’t see mentioned (admittedly, I ended up skimming later replies)

Use a scrap piece of rail or brass/aluminum angle or square tubing.
Paint these black or rusty first, then use as either visible or hidden support down the length. Black will hide this in the shadowed area, rust looks good for exposed parts.
Good use for junk old brass rail, or flex track trimmings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I realize this is a month old, but did not see it previously.

Another idea that I didn’t see mentioned (admittedly, I ended up skimming later replies)

Use a scrap piece of rail or brass/aluminum angle or square tubing.
Paint these black or rusty first, then use as either visible or hidden support down the length. Black will hide this in the shadowed area, rust looks good for exposed parts.
Good use for junk old brass rail, or flex track trimmings.
Thanks for tip never (well almost) to drop a helpful tip/ idea. I'll absorb everything I can as construction rolls on
 
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