Making Styrene Look Like Wood

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Duration: 6:51

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Howard Zane has developed a way to make wood siding for his structures that is quick and easy. His method takes a fifth of the time compared to working with real wood. Clapboard styrene comes in thin sheets with subtle paneling that already resembles wood siding. It is incredibly easy to cut by making just a few scores with a blade between the paneling.

To fake the appearance of wood the styrene must be textured. Zane runs it over with a wire brush to rough up the foam. The next step to create the look of aging on the clapboard is to imitate loose sections of siding. Using a tiny chisel, Zane makes gouges under the grooves of the panels to make it look like some siding has started lifting off the structure.

Termite damage can be simulated by then chiseling these uplifted sections off to show rot. The clapboard is then brushed with India ink and alcohol with a light dusting of black pastel or chalk powder over the paint color. This completes the transformation of styrene to wood.

As Allen Keller discusses with Zane, there have been a lot of changes made to Zane’s layout when he was suddenly inspired by other modelers and model railroads. These modelers that he has had the pleasure of meeting benefit him in even more ways. Zane’s layout is unique in the way it was built; he worked without a design or a plan, which is the opposite of most. He built as he went along, although there is an exception to this rule.

If additions are added they will be designed and he may go to a professional designer if he wants it perfectly executed. Zane has been fortunate enough to have many friends in the hobby who are willing to offer help on his layout. In these scenarios he may trade services with other modelers to utilize each other’s areas of expertise.