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Making Hardshell Scenery


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What is Hardshell Scenery?
Making Hardshell Scenery

All of the materials necessary to construct a scenic base for a model railroad can be assembled for just a few dollars.

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One of the most tried-and-true ways to create a scenic base for your model trains is the hardshell method. Hardshell gets its name from the hard coat of plaster that covers the support structure. The techniques are relatively easy to learn, materials are inexpensive, and final results can be amazing. The downside, it can get messy and it's heavy and difficult to change once finished.

What You'll Need:

  • Support Materials: newspaper, cardboard strips, screen
  • Paper Towels
  • Hydrocal Plaster
  • Drywall Joint Compound (dry mix: 30-45 minute set time)
  • Water
  • Paints


  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Staple Gun
  • Masking Tape
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Putty Knives
  • Sponge
  • Paint Brushes

As you can see, you probably have most of the materials at home already. Hydrocal plaster can be found at hobby, art and crafts stores. The other materials can all be found at any hardware or home supply center. In addition to the materials above, you may want to add plastic sheeting, drop cloths or extra newspaper to cover finished portions of the layout and surrounding room.

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