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Author Topic: Wood Species for Model Realism  (Read 19685 times)
marklayton
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« on: July 31, 2008, 05:07:06 AM »

I'm wondering if anyone has found wood species that scale well.  Basswood lack character (knots, grain pattern, etc.), so we must do a lot of work to make it look right at scale.  I've cut some planks for 1:16 models from the following:
red oak - the rays are way too large, making it look badly out of scale.  Some of the figure and coloring is pretty interesting.
white oak - same as for red oak.
white pine - much like basswood - very blah.
mahogany - rays are way too large, not much grain figure.
cherry - not much character, but the scale of the grain figure isn't too bad depending on the sample.
dogwood - has interesting grain figure that can scale ok, but it's very hard wood so it's hard on tools.  Plus the supply is quite limited.
hemlock - actually found some wiht knots that are approximately to scale, and some nice grain figure patterns.
maple - depending on the sample, does have nice grain patterns.

Want to make a large pile of pallets.  Real ones use pretty nasty wood, with lots of knots and grain pattern.  Sure would be nice to find some wood that starts out looking that way!
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lab-dad
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« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2008, 11:01:46 AM »

I have tried walnut and cherry also.
Not so much for grain/knots but more for color.
IMHO basswood offers the best choice.
We add grain anyway and knots can be added "fairly" easy.

I wonder if we used a smaller species or saplings with more branches (what makes the knots) if that would help.
I'd like to try harvesting some of the local scub pine saplings and see what it looks like.

-Marty
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Chuck Doan
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« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2008, 11:52:10 AM »

Bill (roughboy) mentioned Swiss Pear wood. I have't seen any in person, but it sounds interesting. I don't think it gives you free knotholes though.

CD
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jay_imok
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« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2008, 03:46:26 PM »

look at a "real" piece of wood from your "scale" viewing distance.

example: you have chosen to model 1/48th scale. if you look at your models from a distance of 12" away, you are viewing it from 48 scale feet away. so now take a board, set it up in your backyard, and view it from 48' away. how much texture can you see?

depending on your selected modeling scale, of course you can scratch, scribe, hole, & nail anything, but in the smaller scales, it is stepping towards a characature at that point.
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chester
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« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2008, 07:00:36 PM »

 If it is highly figured wood perhaps you could look at some of the burled wood in several different specie but I doubt that these would come off looking realistic in a small scale. Since each specie is so varied with every piece I would simply look look at a larger selection of each. I personally prefer a verticle tight grained wh. pine that I can 'dress'  for each individual application as I see fit. The fruit woods (apple, cherry, pear) are my second choice. Holly has a very interesting character as well.
   By the way, for an interesting weathered color, soak a piece of cherry in a strong lye solution for a few hours.
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marc_reusser
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« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2008, 09:32:24 PM »

For scales 1/35-32 on up you could MAYBE consider sawing your own stripwood from Bottlebrush, She Oak, as mentioned Dogwood, or some other straight growing large shrub...where you MIGHT mave the chance of getting a natural knot....or maybe even Wax Leaf Privet, o......but can you imagine the labor involved in this by the time you have all the pieces cut, properly dried/cured, ...and then you still ahve to go through the staining and some graining process.   Grin

Ahhhh Jay....... one of my favorite "soap-boxes"...works right in with one of my others "scale-effect" ....but unfortunately tonight I am a few sheets to the wind, and too relaxed to climb up on it.     Grin


Marc
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finescalerr
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« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2008, 03:27:33 AM »

In the smaller scales, even the grain of basswood is too pronounced. (I assume you are talking about representing unpainted, weathered wood.) Maybe only Swiss pear minimizes grain under magnification. In the larger scales bass or pear come into their own but you have to create your own knots by drilling a hole and inserting part of a toothpick ... or perhaps you prefer some other method. Most other woods may look okay to the naked eye but become caricatures under magnification. You must decide whether you want to represent something as close to scale as possible or whether you prefer an impressionistic approach. Either can be valid and each has outstanding adherents. I suspect, on this forum, you'll find more scale "nuts" than impressionists, but who knows? -- Russ
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jay_imok
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« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2008, 08:31:26 PM »

another consideration may be "consistancy".

just like a RR painting all of its structures or rolling stock the same, a model (material or technique) might be better received if it is in keeping with the surrounding elements. obviously a "one-off" contest entry can be whatever the builder chooses, but when placed on a diorama, module, or layout the piece may be more at home with others of similar construction and level of detail.

now about those nail holes some are so fond of ....
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marklayton
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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2008, 05:01:45 AM »

Good thoughts all around.  Like Marty, I too am tempted to try harvesting some smaller saplings to see if they offer knots and other character.  But Marc is right about the amount of work involved making one's own strip wood.  I made a batch of poplar clapboard a couple of years ago and can attest to effort involved.  Was even tempted to make an 8-blade gang saw to speed things up, but so far have resisted the urge!

Mark Layton
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searoom
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« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2008, 07:20:15 AM »

I cut much of my own larger scale strip wood from clear pine or poplar. Much of this is used on my boat models which are all board on frame.

When I need unpainted weathered wood it is actually far less labor intensive to burn  in the knots and a little bit of heavily weathered grain on top of the traditional scratched on surface grain. This also gives you the advantage of being able to place knots where you want them and to represent where they  more naturally grow on a mature scale trunk, as opposed to on a real sapling or branch. As most Bonsai fanciers can tell you , it's all about the bud nodes. Also keep in mind that what we call grain is really just annual rings cut on a different plane. So, annual rings in 1/48 or 1/35 would almost be microscopic. In reality trying to represent this type of detail in most scales is akin to what N scalers do to rivets and handrails.

Check the protective over planking on the skipjack decks.

http://www.gcdesigngroup.com/chassemaree_13.htm

Garry
« Last Edit: September 07, 2008, 07:25:24 AM by searoom » Logged
TRAINS1941
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« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2008, 08:54:32 AM »

Welcome Garry

I was just on that web-site and then to the others you can go to some very nice models & kits.  The detail page was also very interesting.  Thanks for the info.

Jerry
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marklayton
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« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2008, 05:51:12 AM »

Garry -

Very nice boat models.  Weathering and wear on the deck where the dredge dumps is most impressive.

Thanks for the tip on burning knots - that idea never occured to me.  Will give it a try.

We must be living in the same neck of the woods - I ride my bike down to Deale on nice Sunday mornings admiring the workboats, and work in Annapolis.

Mark Layton
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searoom
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« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2008, 07:44:49 PM »

Thanks Mark. I use a burner from Colwood electronics called the cub detailer . You can find them on line. This is the smallest of their units and it sells for around $60 with lots of pen options for around $15 each. The controller has a pot so you can vary the heat to match whatever your doing from decoy feathers to cutting ripstop nylon.
I used to keep my boat in Naptown and frequently sail with friends out of Herrington Harbor N.

Garry

P.S. just found this link on RR Line Forums

http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=11601
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searoom
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« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2008, 06:58:07 PM »

I recently rediscovered a source of cheap and exciting weathered wood. If you have any scraps of cheap luan plywood , put them outside in the sun, rain , snow, heat and cold. In about a year the laminations will start to separate. Then you can peel off the naturally grayed top layer and cut it into strip wood. I just made up a small bundle of this stuff and plan to use it for a loading dock deck. The nice thing about the pieces that I found is that the naturally aged grain is quite in scale with the wood.

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John McGuyer
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« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2008, 11:06:53 AM »

Speaking of knot holes, I just made a 1/20.3 wood gondola and since it is fairly large, I got to thinking what are knot holes but the start of limbs? So I went out in the yard and found a bunch of dried twigs of various diameters. Drilled several different sized holes in my wood and they made just peachy-keen knot holes.

John
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