Making Model Railroad Buildings with Styrene

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When most people hear the words “scratch-built”, they imagine countless hours spent in the workshop, dimensioning and cutting and painting and recutting and repainting, and so they tend to opt for buying commercial kits of model railroad buildings. But really, when you use the proper technique and don’t stress unnecessary details, kits can take as long to put together as scratch-built model railroad buildings, and they generally don’t offer the same opportunities for customization and originality.

Our expert modelers recommend that you at least try to design, lay out and construct your own model railroad buildings before deciding it’s too much work; you never, maybe you’ll prefer the freedom of scratchbuilding to the instructions of kits. With that idea in mind, in this lesson we teach you the step-by-step process you’ll need to construct scratch model railroad buildings from styrene, starting with initial measurements and ending with the final paint job.

How to make frames for model railroad buildings

The procedure for designing and piecing together scratchbuilt model railroad buildings is quite simple and stressfree. To help you easily and efficiently put together your own customized model railroad buildings, modeler Jim Kelly demonstrates each of the techniques necessary to build scale buildings from styrene.

Jim first shows you how to lay out the dimensions for your scale building directly on the styrene and use a No. 11 X-Acto blade to score the plastic. Once your lines for the walls, windows and doors of the model railroad buildings are drawn, you’ll learn how to snap out the shapes and then glue on supportive braces to each of the edges with liquid cement. Jim also introduces a nice little scoring trick that utilizes a drill bit for popping out smaller openings, then explains the correct way to pair front, rear and side walls. And voila, you have completed the expert procedure for creating model railroad buildings!