The Dr. Grunge Advanced Wood Clinic



  • Dr. Grunge,

    My impression, from your pictures, is that your grain is deeper than the grain I am achieving with my brush. My grain shows up but yours really shows up. I think I have a case of brush envy. When I use steel wool on my wood it seems to polish and darken it. Your results do not show that so, for me, it must be technique. Keep the posts coming, please.

  • Wonderful Ken. Enjoying the clinic and appreciate you taking the time to do so.

  • Hey Mitch, I tried counting an average number of back-n-forth strokes I typically give my wood and it's around 5 or 6. Of course the pressure is a variable hard to describe but a medium pressure is a start. I don't like overly grained wood as I impart more detail later that gives me the look I want so maybe it's the shadowing on the pictures.

    You should not get any color change or transfer with the steel wool if things are dry and on UN-STAINED wood. Not sure why you would be getting a polishing and darkening effect?? Might you have colored your wood first?

    Thanks Bill, appreciate the support. I encourage questions and chatter regarding wood work here. This is our clinic not my clinic.
  • edited January 2017
    Ken I use the fine sponge backed sand paper for the fuzzies .It is made by 3M.
  • Ken, so glad I got back on the train this week. It's been too long. Really looking forward to the grunge master at work.

    David U
  • Carl, I do a bit of sanding as well which is coming up in the next installment, just not on the initial de-fuzzing. Any method that gets that crap off the wood is worth the effort.

    so do I Ed, but I know where to find em!!

    Glad you're aboard David, hopefully you'll enjoy the ride down grunge lane...
  • Thanks for the tips...
  • Ken, I'm glad you distinguished between enhancing the grain and creating grain. I believe I do the latter. I'm going to try to apply less pressure the next time and see what I get. Again, thanks for doing this. Phil
  • More to come you need it with your wood work!

    Right Phil, I think it's a key aspect to working with our wood. Glad to have this thread going and anxious to get to the good stuff but need to lay down some foundation work.
  • edited January 2017
    So, I have completed the graining of my wood followed by removing the frayed wood or "fuzzies". Next order of business is to color or stain my wood. Here we interject a very personal choice and that is the color of the wood. My suggestion is to follow the recommendation Brett includes in the manual for each SWSM Kit. Brett does an enormous amount of research into the structures of his kits and the color choices are not a whimsical thing but come from years of experience coupled with that all time consuming'll never go wrong here.

    With that said, we all have our favorite way to color wood and Brett certainly encourages the modeler to create a build that is unique to the individual modeler. The beauty of Brett's instructions is that it sets the basis for color and finish choices within a reasonable color palate. O'Neills is a good example. There are three main structures and each one tells a story by how the wood is colored and finished. Each structure can have a range of color tones within a family of colors and still maintain the character and tell the story as intended. This is the cool thing about kit building, Brett sets the standard with his pilot model, we then introduce our own individuality and character by how we choose colors and detail and finish our wood, among many other details of course.

    My choice for base color is by two main methods depending on the finish I want and that is either chalk or AI. Each has its merits and reasons I choose them, so lets take a peek. The chalk method developed by Brett is the most versatile when it comes to color. This method is clearly explained in the Craftsman University here on the web-site and not to be repeated here. The point is chalks allow a great variety of color choices by just selecting the chalk color you like. Keep in mind there is a fairly narrow palate of base wood color that makes sense...browns and grays are what I limit mine to.

    To get a good gray base color the use of AI provides a good choice. I use several strengths of AI depending on what I want to do. To stain my stripwood I use the relatively low ink concentration AI and keep putting on successive applications, with a dry time in between, until I get the darkness I'm looking for. In addition, regardless of weather I use chalk as the base or AI, neither will be used alone...if your confused it will become clear next time.

    So lets see an example..


    The wood on the left was stained using chalk (408.3) and the ones on the right with about 3-4 applications of the AI. You can clearly see the difference and both would be applicable in certain situations. Now, some folks would see fit to take what you see here and start building their, no, no...shaking my head in print! This is only where the fun starts......
  • Interesting that you color before doing the "extra" touches.
  • Nice you noticed that Bryan, so hopefully I may touch on some techniques that may not be readily apparent.
  • And..................
  • Working on the next episode Carl...this will be where we talk details.
  • KKarns said:

    Working on the next episode Carl...this will be where we talk details.

    Ready and waiting.
  • Oops!! I would have started building already. Now you have my interest .... Phil
  • edited January 2017
    Good Phil, as it should get more interesting...

    So..I have grained my stripwood and then stained. From here on out I will use the wood that was stained with the AI a gray color as it photographs just a bit better.

    The next step I take is to sand off the sharp edges of the boards. The first time I tried this I was sold on the concept and the results. Sanding the edges creates boards that appear warm and worn and despite being butted up against each other appear spaced just a bit. This also serves to introduce our first level of contrast and that is the lightening of the board edges. It was mentioned that many modelers may do the detail work on the boards and THEN stain the wood. The only problem I have with this is it creates a monotone color on the boards and doesn't highlight all the nice details that are added.

    Here is what the boards look like with the edges before and after sanding...


    Boards before I sanded the sharp edges off. Note the monotone color of the boards and very tight space between them.


    Same boards with the edges slightly rounded. Also note the contrasting of the light edges and the slight separation appearance. Now granted, these are subtile differences but when added to all the other details I will be demonstrating it makes a sizable impact on the overall finished wall.

    The tool I use that's an indispensable component to my board detailing is a sanding stick. My hand model is featuring the one I use below...


    Not any secret weapon here just a sanding stick that most of you are familiar with. However, it's how I use this thing is why I would not be without it for board detailing...
    The flat surface is utilized for basic sanding and is what I used on the edges just illustrated. The tip of the stick is where the secret lies...more on that next time.


    The business end of the sanding stick. This is where the tool is so valuable for board detailing which we will discuss in the next installment. Following the rounding of the board edges the next thing I concentrate on is detailing the board ends. Both for the bottom and top of the walls and where two boards butt together. In either case the first step is to slightly round the board end. This is in lieu of detailing the board end. This process creates an instant weathered look and when coupled with the board end detailing that will be featured next time really sets the foundation for a nice weathered board.


    I have used the sanding stick and slightly rounded each board end a bit. Notice the two boards on the right...I sanded the top edge on one side or the other just a bit to create some variety and serves to thin the board edge down a bit. Also lightens the wood here and there which will give me nice contrast as we continue. Next time I will start detailing the board end...
  • Ken, you have delivered to my expectations. I would have never thought of this, but it makes perfect sense. I like your sanding tool. What is it and where can I get one? Phil
  • Dr. Grunge,
    You may get there eventually in your demonstration but you must differentiate your weathering between floor boards and siding boards. Floor boards get worn and weathered while siding boards get weathered.
  • Great technique, Ken! Where did you get that little sanding tool and what's it called? I've been using Emory boards that I steal from my wife, but I like the looks of this gizmo.
    Sanding the edges slightly is sort of a "dry brush" technique in that you are highlighting the edges--without using any paint at all!

    Also, if you look at pictures of old weathered barnwood, you'll notice that when they age and dry out, the tend to warp--the board edges will curl in or out. I believe this is called cupping. Your technique achieves this in a simple effective way.

    Here's a quick 1:1 example. See how the extreme left edge is lighter--almost white, on several of these boards?


    Okay...sorry to threadjack (again!). Back to Ken!
  • edited January 2017
    Hi Phil, Thought once we got to the good stuff in would be a bit more helpful. I got the sanding thingy at my local hobby shop but Micro-Mark sells them and they call it a Sanding Wand and advertise it as "delicate control" which I agree with and one of the reasons I like it. In addition the sanding belt rotates along the tool with thumb pressure so as the paper wears you just move it to some fresh. Then the whole thing is replaceable with a new strip in various grades.

    Thanks Mitch and yes, I will address the differences in floors vs walls.

    Hey Bill...thanks my man, and see my response to Phil regarding the sanding thingy. Great pic and thanks for the real world example, it really helps illustrate the point. Love having you guys wade in it don't we?
  • Got it: Sanding Wand!

    Here's a modeling example of the cupping effect. Rather sanding the edges, I used a new exacto and lightly shaved some the edges. I took this picture with my iPad, so the colors are a little bold, but you get the idea:

  • Sanding wand ordered.
  • edited January 2017
    Bill, I really like the gray color you got on the small boards above the door. What's the formula?

    Ken, I've always liked the look you get by sanding the boards. Started on my first SW kit. And on the next one, I am definitely going to focus some attention on the corners as you show here.
  • Great Bill...thanks for posting and gives a nice illustration of the edge treatment effect.

    Yea, why do they have to name things so...well you know...sanding wand? Why not sanding rod or sanding stick? Don't wave it around Carl...just get to the serious detailing.
  • edited January 2017
    Bryan, Well congrats on the launch of your first SWSM Kit. Who is the lucky recipient of your attention? It's a technique that's at least worth a try to see if you like it.
  • edited January 2017
    I feel that due to the projected length of this clinic, and the fact that some who may be following haven't seen any results of the techniques I'm discussing, I thought I would post an image of where we are headed and the results we expect to cover.

    The image below is a small portion of the wall I just finished for the BlueSky build I'm working on. This section is the Main Barn. Note the various details, these will all be covered in subsequent installments here. Note the sanded board edges and sanded and slightly rounded board ends. That's where we are now with the clinic.

  • Great looking wall.

    Sorry about my last post. I meant to say I've been sanding the wood in the way you describe since I built my first SW kit 5 or 6 years ago. It was the O scale rigging shed since you asked. And I'm still going to put some extra focus on the corners next time.
  • Ken, I REALLY like the color tone of the example wall pictured above. Although it is off topic could you please explain how you achieved that color. The details are very good. Thanks again.

  • ED, Maybe we should do a group buy from Amazon on the sanding sticks. If anyone is interested please say so on the off topic thread.


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