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5,561 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'll show you how to go from a simple flat board to a nice 3D add-on for your layout for cheap and easy. The principals can be used for virtually any scale and size.
This small layout / diorama board took about 8 hours to build, most of that time was waiting for material to dry. The final product is really not finished just got to the point of landscaping and that's another thread!
I hope this helps enlighten those new and maybe re inspire the old.:D
Oh and Just Say No To Foam!!! It's for your beer/soda cooler!:laugh::laugh:
Start with a layout / diorama plywood top.
Wood Plywood Floor Flooring Hardwood

Track layed, rail painted, profile boards installed.
Furniture Table Textile Room Linens

Screen cut and attached.
Table Furniture

First coat of quick set drywall compound.
Table Room Textile Ceiling Floor

Finished mountain structure and base coat of landscape.
Transport Scale model Bumper Vehicle Train

Move down threw the thread for the whole how to do it!

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5,561 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
List of Tools and parts needed.

Window screen, Aluminum or Steel kind
Quick set drywall compound 20 to 90 min if your new to this stay with the slower till you get used to it!
Small mixing/paint pail
Recommend small drill mounted mixing paddle, you can do it by hand.
Putty knife
Cheap scissors
Blue painting tape
Flat black or dark gray spray paint, Can be done with can and brush too.
Wood glue / White glue
T-50 stapler, not required
Cheap stiff paint brush
Clear latex caulk not 100% silicone, Ballast and paint won't stick to it.
Rubber gloves are nice too.
Thumb tacks / Push pins

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5,561 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Laying track

Laying track-
On your layout top draw in the center lines of all track to be layed.
Wood Plywood Hardwood Floor Wood stain

Apply caulking in two lines on either side of center line.
Wood Plywood Hardwood Table Electrical wiring

Starting at one end tack down the cork or foam rubber base to one side of center line.
Wood Table Sport venue Plywood

Install second base and tack down, wait for approximately 1/2 hour to set.
Wood Games

Apply 2 small lines of caulking on each piece of base
Race track Table Wood Games

Smooth with putty knife leaving approximately 1/16 inch of caulking.
Wood Table Plywood Sword

Install track starting from one end on base pining down as you go.
Movable rail on flex track should go to inside of curve.

After 1/2 hour remove all pins and paint rails, ties, cork
This is optional but will give it a finished look when done.
If modeling an old railroad you can substitute black for rust color.
Furniture Table Textile Room Linens

15 min later use a cloth with a small amount of goof off, acetone, lacquer thinner, or mineral spirits to remove paint off tops of rails.
Tire Automotive tire Automotive wheel system Auto part Rim

· Registered
5,561 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Mountain Building

Mountain Building- Part 2
Cut and install outside profile boards or what I call guard rails. be as random as possible
Plywood Wood Table Floor

Cut and install mountain profile boards, if you want a 4 sided mountain just repeat boards on other side.
Wood Plywood Floor Hardwood

Cut pieces of window screen larger than space your going to cover, like 2 to 4 in of overhang on all sides.
Table Room Textile Paper Furniture

Wad up, wrinkle and smash screen randomly.
Furniture Table Room Wood Couch

UN wad screen and leave winkles in-tacked, tack to profile boards, You can pin the screen to the profile boards and glue the screen to the boards. If you fold the screen edge over and keep it from hanging over the profile edge it will be nicer when you bump into it.
When covering steep cuts or large surfaces it is good to add in more supports or a wadding of screen to keep profile till mud cures. once mud cures your mountain will be incredibly strong!
Rock Plastic

Plastic Plastic bag

Fasten or glue screen to layout top. trimming for clearance to base and track.
Dress Plastic wrap Plastic bag Lace

Lace Textile Dress

Trim any remaining screen hanging over edges.
Table Furniture

Cover base and track with Tape leaving no holes for mud to enter.
Table Automotive exterior Wood Hardwood

Plastic Furniture Plastic bag

Mix small amounts of dry wall mud to a thin consistency, almost thin enough to run threw screen, but not quite. Using a paint brush, brush on the mud mixture in a thin layer, pushing the mud partially into the screen but not too hard. Thin is better than thick, removing extra is really hard to do after it's cured. You want to keep the profile of the wrinkled up screen as much as possible. Brush the mud as it hardens to get a semi smooth finish.
Wood Hardwood Table Floor Room

Textile Lace

Table Room Textile Ceiling Floor

Second coat, Apply same as first building it up then smoothing it out. After all material is applied, slightly wet the paintbrush as this will aid in smoothing surface.
Product Textile

Textile Plastic T-shirt Paper Plastic bag

Third coat, This coat can be a little thicker in consistency and applied heavier to get the final look. I use rubber gloves to help couture the final surface and get a smooth finish with the damp brush.
Fur Textile

Paper Plastic Paper product Plastic bag

After completely hardened, Remove tape, Clean of any residual drywall mud off and around track.
suggest using alcohol to wipe down rails to remove final dust and debris
Transport Train Vehicle Rolling stock Railway

Transport Snow Vehicle Train Railway

Automotive exterior Paper Furniture

Painting entire surface with latex (house paint) will aid in resistance to moisture. Finish product landscape to taste, Outside profile board will now inhibit the Flying engine or railroad car from from ruining your day.

Textile Linens Wool

Transport Scale model Bumper Vehicle Train

Transport Scale model Railway Vehicle Train


Happy mountaineering!

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16,705 Posts
Yeah, I like the screen idea coupled with the contoured plywood perimeter. Nice stepwise tutorial, Sean.

No need for crumpled newspaper or such under the screen to give it some bottom support ???

FYI ... I used hot glue to glue down my cork roadbed ... worked like a charm ... very quick /strong grab.



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5,561 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
That was a work out!
If you posted before this post you need to go back and reread the previous posts, I was adding it all in when you posted.
Next time I need to break it up more.
I hope this is of use to someone!!!!:D

I think you posted in the middle of my chaos, :laugh::laugh: The screen is window screen.

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5,561 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I use whatever kind of quick setting compound that I can find, right now it's from Home Depot, Beadex, silver set 20. You just need any quick setting type, the numbers tell you approximately how long before it starts to set or harden. You will get the same results with either time it's just the longer one's give you more time to work with it! When you first start mix small batches till you get used to how it spreads.

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5,561 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Just make sure it the quick setting kind of drywall mud.
It's a powder you mix, the standard premix compound will take forever to set and will crack like mad!
What kind of how to would you like to see next?
I'm thinking the quick and easy pond, lake or river?
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