JT's Practice Sessions

edited October 2011 in Working with Wood
As some of you know, I've been interested in Brett's kits for many years but never took the plunge into this level, wood craftsman style, of modeling. However, a couple years ago, when I switched to On30 to help my dad with his return to modeling and new layout, I decided I would try to push my level of modeling up a notch or two and try to achieve the quality of craftsmanship I always told myself was impossible for me. At the 2010 Craftsman Structure Show, I finally had the pleasure of meeting Brett in person, watched his clinics, and found myself coming home with the O-Scale Tool Shed. This year at the Expo in Peabody, I came home with Blue Sky Co.. Unfortunately, both still sit in their boxes.

However, today I took the plunge and decided to try texturing and coloring some scrap pieces of wood and wanted to share my initial results. The wood I am using is some inferior quality scale lumber that my dad and I ordered last year for his projects. We were very unhappy with this particular manufacturer as, in addition to the poor quality, it is not scale lumber at all. Despite ordering O-scale lumber, what they sent doesn't scale to any dimensional lumber in any scale. So, I now have plenty of scrap lumber to practice on.

In the following photos, I cut the stripwood to 8" lengths using a razor saw to break the boards and tried to add texture with a brass brush as Brett describes in his manuals and clinics. I then applied a wash using 408.3, 408.5, and white chalks. I think I should have added a little black as I didn't get them quite as dark as I wanted. I'm not sure about the texturing either as I don't see as much wood grain as I do in photos of others work.

What do you guys think? I'm definitely going to practice more before I start building a structure. Once my confidence level is up a bit more, I think I will start off with the O-Scale Lineside Shed as my first wood structure.

I appreciate any and all comments.




  • JT-
    Your coloring looks very nice! Look at the bottom 4 strips in the first picture. I'd say that's exactly the range of tones I'd hope to get when staining wood: a golden tan, a gray-ish tan, a darker brown and a lighter warm tan. Subtle color differences that are still in the same range. Did you apply the chalks dry and then wash them into the wood with alcohol like in this video:

    Make sure you also try Brett's soaking method for stripwood. It's very simple and will give you similar results. I like to pull them out of the stain in thirds: 1/3 after about 12 hours; one third after 18 hours and the last 1/3 after 24 hours.

    Grain and texture is often a personal preference. It also depends on the look that you're going for (how old is the building? was it well maintained? where is it located?). Karl A. is one of the best when it comes to modeling beautiful silver barn wood. Here's an example:


    The color and texture of those strips kind of tells the story of the structure even before he's built it: the wood is older, it's taken a beating by mother nature, it was probably never painted, and the owner probably didn't do much in terms of maintaining it.

    Based on what you've posted, I'd say you're ready to get started. Remember, you can experiment while you build too. If you get some pictures and somebody will help you out. Crack open that Lineside Shed and give it a shot!

  • Thanks Bill. Yes, I pretty much followed that video. However, my wood seemed to soak up the alcohol must faster than shown in Brett's video. By the time I go to add the second powder on top of the wet alcohol, it's already all soaked in.

    It's funny that you linked that picture of Karl's as that is the look I am trying to achieve. I think part of the problem with me achieving that grain is my wood is much thicker than normal siding. The wood I am dealing with is closer to 2x10 in size so it's hard to texture with the brass brush. I need to find some 1x stock to play with I think.

    I don't have the Lineside Shed yet. I plan on ordering it next Wednesday when I get paid along with the Mill Engine and Boilerhouse kit with Sawmill Machinery (Hi, my name is JT and I'm a Sierra West-aholic).

    Thanks again, I am preparing some more boards as I type this.. still playing with colors, texture, and going to experiment with knot holes next.
  • Okay...if that's the look you're after, then maybe Karl will jump in.

    In the meantime, you might want to try different brushes rather than different wood.
    Don't limit yourself to just the brass ones. Here's a section from my log brow made from 1/4" dowels and strip wood:

    To get that kind of texture, I used a board with finishing nails along with different awls and wire brushes to scribe in the grain:

    I check different parts of the hardware store for metal brushes. Paint and plumbing will have some, but I also look in the welding and soldering supply sections--even the area with the grilling tools. Here's one I found in the masonry section...I guess they use it to scrub off mortar from the bricks or something:
    It's extremely stiff and tears the wood up in a hurry. The point is, get a variety of them and play around.
  • Here are four new boards that just finished drying.. these are also my first two knots I've ever tried. How are these boards looking? I found a stainless steel brush in my box of tools and it seemed to work a little better but not quite the grain detail I am looking for . I will keep experimenting.


  • here's another hint, twist the brush as you run down the board. wood grain is not always straight from top to bottom.
  • edited October 2011
    JT, I'll definately jump in on this in the next day or two with some details on brushes I use and colours I favour. For now though I'll comment on what you have shown.

    The graining, though not severe is perfect for wood that has not yet seen 20-30 years of mother nature beating it up.
    Maybe it's hard for you to see it in person but it really comes across well in the pictures. the colour is also good as it depicts that warm earthy wood tone of slightly aging wood, that is somewhere between fresh cut and a beautiful silver grey.

    The knots really look good but one tip I will add into this post and one thing that I noticed in your previous picture that stood out to me.....

    When 'clipping' my knots flush to the board I always use my clippers so that the blades are parallel to the board.
    This way, the slight squashing action that occurs before the cut is made is inline with the board.
    Your knot on the left is elongated sideways, due I presume to you cutting perpendicular to the board. If that knot was elongated vertically it would be perfect. The size looks great, the colour is perfect and the definition between knot and board is crisp and clear, great job.

    More tomorrow.


    Thanks for the mention and extremely kind words Bill !!

  • Hi JT

    I think you need to give yourself some more credit. As a first attempt, youve done a really good job. Taking the tips what Bill and Karl have recomended, youll be creating awesome looking wood in no time.

    The main barn walls in the Blue sky kit are made up of 2 x 10`s (and there is over 80 pieces to destress). So I suggest you get yourself something a bit stiffer than the brass brush.

    Keep up the great work. I look forward to more.
  • edited October 2011
    I think you need to give yourself some more credit. As a first attempt, youve done a really good job. Taking the tips what Bill and Karl have recomended, youll be creating awesome looking wood in no time.
    Thanks Wes, you are probably correct. I am always super critical off myself and everything I do, one of many character flaws of mine. Thanks for your support.
    JT, I'll definately jump in on this in the next day or two with some details on brushes I use and colours I favour. When 'clipping' my knots flush to the board I always use my clippers so that the blades are parallel to the board.
    Thanks Karl, I'm looking forward to it. Agreed on the knots, the clippers I used were also not the proper type for this task. I have new clippers now and will experiment some more this weekend.

    Thanks again to everyone.
  • Hi Uncle JT. I just want to concur with the others - I like what I see so far. Good work!. My situation is similar to yours - I have a couple of SW kits. I bought the O scale Tool shed this past summer and I too was at the Fine Scale show in Peabody and picked up the new O scale Line Side Shed.Hopefully you had the opportunity to see Brett's clinics - they were awesome! I havent tried starting either of my kits yet and my modeling experience has been limited to plastic kits followed by several wood laser cut kits. I am a little hesitant to take the next step and start building one of my SW kits - hopefully soon. I want to just say thank -you for taking the time to post (and with pictures) - it is very helpful fo us "newbies" to see other comparable level modelers take the jump into craftsman style kits and follow along with them. I look forward to seeing your progress. We are very fortunate to have some highly talented craftsman on this site. Between those indivduals and advice from Brett and company, I really think we are very fortunate to be members of this forum.

  • Hey Woody. I can honestly recommend you just jump in and start building one of Bretts kits. if you follow his instructions, you cant go wrong. The line side shed looks like the perfect kit to start on.

    Post your build here on the forum and youll get all the help you need.
  • JT - what an awesome start... keep going man! Only way to improve is to do it more!

    Woody - go!!!! we are all here eager and happy to help.
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