Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Tent of Ill Repute

No WIP pictures on this post, this is one of the buildings I'd finished before starting the blog so I'm just adding it for completeness.

The Brothel is based (loosely) on the one in the excellent Hell on Wheels series, which was one of my inspirations for creating BLF.

The brothel is a tent with plank walls and as one of the first buildings I made it has a wooden framework, unlike the newer builds that are built around a 3D printed frame.  The roof was printed as a single 3D piece, which while functional was a pain in the proverbial posterior to clean up, hence my switch to individually printed roof trusses.

There's a well appointed bathing area to the side of the establishment to ensure that the dirtier clientele are bathed before partaking of the pleasures.  The baths are 3D prints and the sign is printed on card.

I've made the brothel sign removable so that the building can be used for less controversial activity should the need arise.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Lumber Yard

Every expanding town needs a Lumber Yard and Beaverlick Falls is no exception.

I made the Lumber Yard Office as a single building, so all that was required for this build was a simple fence and yard arrangement.  Using the fences I'd built earlier I added them to the 2mm thick mdf base that had been shaped and sanded.  My preference is to have the bases taper down to nothing so that they blend in with the tabletop and are less obvious than square edges.

I decide to add a gate to the back of the yard to give an additional entry point (or escape route, depending on the situation.  The gate is a trimmed bit of fence with some battens added and it's hinged in the same way as the office door, with small strips of materal.

I chose a 'corner' entrance, cutting the base at 45 degrees, for no particular reason, other than I thought it would make the piece more visually appealing.

The height of the sign was going to make storage a problem, so I've made it removable.

I drilled a 2mm hole into the bottom of the posts to 25mm depth and then cut off c.8mm from the bottom of the post, making sure I marked the posts and front face.  This will make sure the pins and posts line up perfectly without needing to drill separate parts with complicated measurements

I inserted a 2mm brass rod into the hole and dapped the bottom of the rod with black paint. While the paint was wet I lined up the post with the fence so that the wet paint marked the baseboard with where I needed to drill the hole for the brass rod.

the 8mm blocks cut from the bottom of the posts were slid over their respective brass rod pins and glued in place - this strengthens the joins significantly. It's important to get the correct block and pin paired up otherwise the posts won't fit on the pins neatly and the join will be obvious.  Using this method means it doesn't matter if the hole isn't perfectly central to the post.

Some more photos of the finished Lumber Yard.  The lumber stacks are loose so that the configuration can be changed if required.  It also means that the yard can be used for another purpose with just a simple change of signage.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Making Fences

Quick 'How To' on my method for making fences, there are other ways of doing it I'm sure, but this is the way I've settled on.

As there will be a reasonable amount of fences in Beaverlick Falls, I've started to make a stock of long fence length which I can cut down to fit a particular building or terrain piece when needed.

Making the fences

Starting with a pile of prepared timber, line up the bottom fence panels against a straight edge. I do this on a cutting mat as it's easier to check the vertical alignment; try and avoid the panels leaning left or right unless you're going for a ramshackle look.

Once you have enough panels lined up, add a panel to either end that has markings to show where the horizontal rails are going to go - I add a couple of marked panels in the middle of the fence too so that I can ensure the rails are correctly spaced.

Glue the back of the rails along the entire length, then stick them to the fence panels using the pencil marks as guides. It's important not to move the rails one stuck down as this will cause the panels to lean.  I apply light pressure to the centre of the rail and then work outwards towards each of the ends saving made sure before hand that the rail is lined up with the guides.

Once the rails are stuck add a flat heavy weight ( I use a thick piece of mfd with a weight on top) to the top to ensure the rails are firmly stuck to the panels.

Once the glue is dry that's it.  Posts are added at a later stage when the lengths of fence are added to bases of houses etc.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Part Constructed Buildings II

Finished the first pair of part constructed buildings for Beaverlick Falls.

I've based them on 2mm mdf that's been textured, flocked and 'planted'.  I won't go into detail on the basing as I'll most likely do a post on that later.  Lumber stacks were added and for variety between the two buildings I added some planking to one to give the impression of ongoing construction.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Lumber Stacks - How To

You can never have too many things to hide behind in a gunfight, and given that Beaverlick Falls has its fair share of under construction buildings I though some Lumber Stacks dotted around the place would be useful.

These are very cheap and easy to make, they can be a bit time consuming but in my opinion are worth the effort.

Basic materials:

Coffee stirrers -  to represent planks or matchsticks to represent posts
Firelighting Splints or thinner coffee stirrers - for the 'bearer' pieces of wood
Wood stain - this can be ink, thinned paint, wood dye or similar to colour the wood
PVA glue - slightly thinned to ease the flow, I use 70/30 PVA/Water
Masking tape - to hold the initial pieces in place
Graph Paper - it's just easier with this, trust me.


Prepare the wood by cutting it to length and pre-colouring it.  In the example below the planks are 60mm long and the bearers 30mm.  For details of how they were prepared see the 'Preparing Wood' article.

Tape the graph paper to a board (I used an off cut of 12mm mdf) and then add a strip of masking tape glue side up - either glue it in place or use masking tape to hold it down.

Mark the positions of the bearers on the graph paper - I use one in the middle and one about 7mm in from each end, and then stick three bearers in place as shown.

Using a fine tipped bottle or brush, add some PVA to the top of the bearers and then add the first layer of planks.  The graph paper acts as a useful reference for keeping the planks and bearers aligned.

Repeat the process of adding bearers and planks until the lumber pile reaches its required height.
I have found that working on four piles at a time provides enough time for the glue to go tacky between each layer.  If you do one pile at a time be prepared to wait between layers or the pile will start to separate or move.

Once the top layer is added you can clamp the pile to ensure everything bonds, alternatively just put something heavy on top.

To avoid all the lumber piles looking the same I've used differing heights and made 'adjustments' to the top layers on some of the piles.

Preparing wood for scratch building

Lumber in Beaverlick Falls

As Beaverlick Falls is a relatively new town, I wanted the wood to have a new(ish) look rather than grey and weathered.  I tried various methods of colouring the balsa and basswood and have finally settled on a Ronseal matt varnish 'Antique Pine'.

I've also had some small (250ml) pots of emulsion paints mixed up to match the Foundry 'Spearshaft' triad of colours for use on MDF or 3D printed components.  These thin well and can also be mixed in small amounts with the Ronseal varnish to give slight variations in shade.

Pre-colouring the wood
I've found that if unstained wood is used in construction the PVA glue seals the wood and prevents it absorbing wood stain.  As a result joints and any other glued parts become much harder to colour. Pre-colouring the wood not only prevents this issue, but it saves time painting later 

Production Line
As I will need a large quantity of 'planks' for fences, boardwalks, roofs and other sundry items I settled on a mass production technique:

First, I cut firelighting splints, coffee stirrers or strip balsa into lengths using a 'Chopper II' guillotine. This tool (or something similar) is a must have if you're going to produce lots of planks. It simplifies and speeds up the process no end, just set the end stop to the required length and then chop away 3 or 4 strips at a time.  The razor blade will dull after a while so spares are essential.

Next, put the cut wood into a ziplock bag - the bag needs to be large enough for the wood to be shaken freely, don't cram it in - then add a 50:50 mix of varnish/water to the bag, seal it and shake for a few minutes.

MAKE SURE YOU SEAL THE BAG PROPERLY (or be prepared to clean up a mess)

The amount of varnish/water mix will depend on the quantity and porosity of the wood in the bag, you'll need to experiment, but it's not a problem if it's not all absorbed.  The objective is to make sure each bit of wood is covered, so too much liquid is better than not enough.

After a few minutes shaking, take the contents out of the bag, spread them on a kitchen towel and pat them gently to remove any excess liquid - initially many of the 'planks' will be stuck together by the liquid but as you pat they will separate.  Leave them on the kitchen towel in a warm place to dry off.

So a relatively quick and pain free method of creating a large quantity of pre-coloured planks for scratch building.  

For more variation in colour I have added inks and/or paints to the 50:50 mix or in some cases just re-coloured a small batch of planks using the 50:50 to get a darker shade.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

General Purpose Building

I made this building to test some techniques and ideas, with no particular use for it in mind.  It's been used as a General Store, a Marshall's Office and a Bank, all with changing the sign on the front.

This build uses 2mm sheet balsa with the usual pencil scribed planking for the walls with a basswood frame added to the top for extra strength.  The doors and windows are 3D prints.

The flooring, which is basswood ship's decking is glued to a piece of 5mm blue foam which is in turn glued to the 2mm thick MDF base.  The fence posts and rails are matchwood.

The fence at the rear is made of firelighting splints, which are thinner than coffee stirrers and cheaper than balsa wood.  All of the components were stained before assembly to avoid the PVA glue from preventing the stain from colouring the wood.

A removable 'tar paper' roof was added from a piece of 2mm MDF with masking tape as the tar paper glued to the MDF with PVA rather than it's own low tack adhesive backing.  Texturing on the base was a mix of brown decorators caulk, PVA and sand which was painted when dry.

 The finished building with its Beaverlick Bank sign