For those just starting out in the world of Lionel trains or any other brand, and who are looking to add wooden structures to them, the first instinct might be to go out and buy pre-packaged kits. After all, why to go all the trouble and time of building wooden train structures yourself when you can just go out and buy a kit thatís been designed with that very purpose in mind?
Even though it requires more work, there are several reasons for building your own wooden train structures.
First, many hobbyists get a great deal of pleasure from the task of building wooden train structures themselves. Hobbyists have even more fun with it by participating in achievement programs and contests. For anyone participating in contests or the achievement program (or even for your Master Builders Structures Certificate) there are various guidelines that must be followed.
Second, hobbyists might not be able to get what they want from pre-packaged kits, leaving them with little choice but to build it themselves.
After making the decision to build custom wooden structures, it is time to get started. The first step is to gather the tools you will need. If you can put a craftsman kit together, this task should be simple. Most of the tools you will probably already have in your possession, items such as a scale ruler, single edge razor blades, Xacto knife (or similar), and a smallish square. Those are the absolute basics, though in the interests of making life easy for yourself it would also be a good idea to go out and invest in such items as a miter box, saw, a steel plate (preferably with a square grid) small biggies filled with side weights (for the purposes of having adjustable weights), aluminum side rails with extra magnets, little clamps, a chopper, a sander and smaller items such as pins, pencils, scissors and glass plates.
After getting the tools, the next step is to draw up (to scale) a plan for the structure. Once you have that, the wood raw materials need to be gathered. Stripwood is a good choice. Commercially available siding is acceptable as a cover.
Prior to starting the assembly comes staining or treating the wood if desired. Variations in the wood can give structures a more realistic appearance. If you want these variations, it will need to be pre-stained prior to assembly.
The final step is assembling the structure. If you want to decorate and see the interior (which is a must if the building will be in the foreground), you must be sure to make the roof removable (cover trusses with boards, then shingle; rafting and cross bracing are recommended to give it both stability and strength). Nail-holes are absolutely essential for clapboard siding. This can be achieved with straight pins for smaller structures or larger pins requiring a pounce wheel. All subassemblies should be assembled prior to attempting to connect them to the building (if you are planning to paint the building, donít put the subassemblies on until this is done). Use clear plastic or glass for windows.
Once the wooden train structures are completed, they are sure to take your train set to the next level. They will last a lifetime and will work great with Lionel trains or any other brand you select.
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Joe Kanooga is a father of two kids, a successful business owner and the author of numerous articles about Lionel trains. Click here to download a free Hobby Guidebook for model trains and wooden train sets. The guidebook is filled with hobby tips, ideas and information.
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