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Building Wood Model Kits - A Sherriff's Office for the Rio Grande Layout


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Building Wood Structure Kits

Unlike plastic models, a wood kit will take color nicely from a stain. A gray stain works well for simulating older untreated wood.

©2012 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

For modelers accustomed to plastic model kits, a wood structure can be intimidating. In fact, while there are some differences the same essential modeling skills and techniques apply. Actually, using natural materials such as wood makes it even easier to create realistic finishes and weathering.

As with learning any new technique, it is always a good idea to start on a simple project. This kit, marketed as a Newspaper Office, from Durango Press (now part of JL Innovative Designs) is one such model. Although they call it a newspaper office, the nondescript building could be used for almost sort of small business, office or storefront. After much debate, the search for interesting interior details ultimately led to this kit's theme of a small town sherriff's office for the Rio Grande Project Layout.

The kit features wood walls and trim to build the main building and a second small structure that can be a stand-alone shed or an addition. Doors and windows are plastic, cast metal parts are used for the cornice, chimney pipes and other details. Cardstock is supplied for the roof.

Before starting any kit, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with all the parts and assembly process. The instructions included with the kit are a good reference. Check the wood parts for any rough edges and sand if necessary.


The first step in the assembly process is to stain the wood parts. You can use traditional wood stains and techniques. I found a nice gray stain from Minwax which worked perfectly to simulate aged and untreated wood. The stain also helps seal the wood to prevent warping if you paint it.

To build up the color with a stain, apply multiple light coats, lightly buffing with an old cloth in between. If you are going to paint interior walls, stain the inside as well.

After staining, walls can also be painted as with any other kit. I painted the front wall of this building using Polly Scale Aged Concrete. Trim, doors and windows on the front were painted Wisconsin Central Maroon. The other walls were left in their aged wood stain with white windows.

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