Martin Tärnrot

Realistic Lumber Stacks

Martin Tärnrot
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Duration:   9  mins

MRA Contributing Editor Martin Tärnrot makes realistic, scale-correct lumber stacks (post-1960 style) that you can put onto your layout, on center beams or bulkhead flat cars.


There are a few ways to build lumber stacks, including scratch-building them from thin pieces of lumber, gluing them together, and wrapping them. This method is extremely time consuming. Another option is laser-cut kits, a method that is also time consuming, plus the kits cost money.


3D printers now perform excellently in terms of reliability and resolution, and their cost is reasonable. Drawing packages, which are inexpensive and easy to work with, are available too. Martin shows just how easy they are to work with, going step by step through the 3D-printing process.

Each printed lumber stack sits on a plate with supports, which are easy to break off. After the supports are removed, the lumber stacks are hollow. The next step is to post-cure (expose to UV light) the stacks. If you live in a sunny climate, you can just put them out in the sun for a few hours instead. Either curing or sun-baking the stacks hardens them.


Then it’s time to paint the lumber stacks. The paint mix is ⅓ flat yellow, ⅔ white, and a drop of brown. Use either an airbrush or a wide flat brush to paint them. Dry for one to two hours, then apply a wash. The wash consists of ¼ flat yellow, ½ white, ¼ brown, and 2 drops of black. Mix this with a wash thinner of 110 Isopropanol and 910 water. Apply the wash with a wide flat brush.


A few different methods exist for making and attaching straps. Martin shows how to cut thin slices from black construction paper and affix them on the hollow inside. Stack the lumber up in your cars. You may want to glue an entire side of each stack to the ones next to it.


If you don’t have a 3D printer, you may find Martin’s video on Modeling Wooden Planks useful. And if you want to see what a lot of lumber stacks look like on a layout (because the layout is on a logging route), we have several videos featuring that, including the series Touring the Tuolumne Forks Railroad.

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