Scratch Building Tutorials:


Scale plans online catalogThere are many excellent kits out there for model railroads and dioramas, but an alternative that is gaining considerable popularity is 'scratch building'. Scratch building is the practice of building a model from basic materials, as opposed to assembling components from a kit. The advantages of building from scratch are often cost, versatility, and for many, a deeper sense of accomplishment. Since many kits need a certain amount of preparation - sanding and trimming of the included parts, the extra steps involved in scratch building are often not that daunting considering the benefits gained.

Modellers and hobbyists often develop their own styles and methods, but we'd like to share with you some of the techniques that will help you to achieve success in constructing from our plans sets.

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Downloading plans from Has your computer lost your file?

Although this isn't a scratchbuilding tutorial per se, this help file might help take the mystery out of buying online and the downloading process.

Grand Trunk Model railroad building

Cardstock Modeling Tutorial

A step by step guide on using either of the card stock options of plan packages.

scratchbuilt model

Cardstock Modeling Video

Video tutorial on cardstock construction.

HO Scale windows

Cutting out Door & Window Openings

The EASY way! (FREE Template download)  Use the downloadable template to cut out window and door openings.

Scaled planking

Making a plank deck or platform

A simple tutorial on making your own "ship decking".

scale model windows

Window and Door Size reference chart

A listing of available door and window sizes to help you choose and order pre-made scale doors and windows for your model.

Customizing Windows

Can't find the windows or doors you need? It might be possible to make one.

Make a "Working" Drive-in Theatre

There is an easier way to install electronics, and is included in your plans.

This is a supplement to Plan 1515, the Stardust Drive-In, which uses a standard 7" or 10" digital photo frame to create a dynamic drive-in theatre.

HO Scale Gingerbread

Gable Decoration

Gable decorations can be ordered through suppliers listed on our Links page, but this brief tutorial shows an easy way of making your own.

Glitter Houses

Making Glitter Houses

This tutorial shows you how to make Christmas Glitter Houses using our Plan 1226S.

HO Scale corner boards

Corner boards for Horizontal Siding

Butt joints are a lot easier than mitred corners, but don't look as realistic. Using "corner boards" can simplify the process while at the same time, adding interesting and authentic detail to your model.

HO Scale metal siding

How to Make Inexpensive Metal Siding

Includes Link to free building plan.

HO Scale model

Using templates with Model Builder software

Model Builder software allows you to create and print out your own cardstock structures. Each of our Plan Packages include template files that import into Model Builder to allow you to easily create your own custom version of our catalog plans.

HO Scale Sawmill

Post & Beam Construction

Post and Beam, or Timber Frame construction is a very suitable method of model building when you want to show an authentic looking interior of a model structure. Most of the plans from can easily be adapted to post & beam construction.

HO Scale Quonset Hut

Tin Can Quonset Hut

An experiment in recycling - making a quonset hut from tin cans.

scratch build model railroad building

Making your own "Barn Shakes"

Make your own realistic looking shake roof using wood veneer and a standard paper cutter. It's easier than you might think!

Building Scale Model Stairways

Make your own realistic looking shake roof using wood veneer and a standard paper cutter. It's easier than you might think!

scratch building tutorial

Scratch-building Tutorial

If you've assembled kits before, why not take the next step? Choose either the scaled plans or traceable templates, both are included in our plan packages.

scratch building tutorial

Scratch-building Video Tutorial

This is a three part video on scratch building, applicable to building with styrene or scaled lumber. It is based on Plan 576.

model builders hobby saw

An inexpensive hobby-size table saw

A tile saw conversion.

scratch building window guide

Window Chart

A handy cross reference chart for various scales and manufacturers of plastic doors and windows. Also, hints for using HO scale windows in N scale models, etc.

model railroad construction

Window Louvers

This tutorial was designed for Plan 2455, the East Broad Top Railroad Blacksmith Shop, but comes in handy for other projects as well.

Z scale cardstock building

Z, S, and TT scale construction using ScaleModelPlans Template files can be printer-reduced to construct just about any common structure scale.  The example to the left is a Z scale structure constructed using an N scale plan 1511.

garden scale windows

Make your Own Garden Scale Windows & Doors

If you have access to a table saw or band saw, with a bit of time and effort you can create many of the doors and windows for your G scale construction projects. This tutorial is intended to supplement the Construction Tips included with your Plan Package.

garden scale construction

Garden Scale Structures Using Coroplast

Following the plans from, this tutorial uses Coroplast corrugated plastic sheet as as inexpensive means of scratch building a Garden scale structure.

scratch building Z scale paper model railroad structures

Looking for building materials? Check out Northeastern Scale Lumber Co.'s online store.

Did you know that you can "borrow" windows from another scale?  Check out our Window Cross-reference Chart to find close alternative to the windows you might be looking for.

Plan packages now include importable WMF files for Model Builder software.  View the tutorial on integrating templates with Model Builder to create realistic structures using cardstock or matte photo paper.

Interested in Z, S, or T Scales? Click here for information.

View our On-line Catalog

of N Scale and HO Scale plans,  templates, and Cardstock patterns, then click to order the printable PDF files so you can get started on your next project.


OO Scale model building HO Scale model structure Fort Langley CNR 3rd class Depot in HO Scale HO scale grain elevator HO Scale model structure - Victorian home N Scale Model building

Scale model plans for HO Scale , N Scale, OO Scale, and O Scale model railroad buildings and structures. Create realistic, inexpensive scale model buildings for your model railroad layout, diorama, or toy train set. Build to accurate scale with Computer Aided Design miniature plans or simply cut out the traceable templates.  As an added feature, you can print out color patterns to card stock to create paper models of buildings and structures. If 'kit-bashing' is more your style, try customizing, or combining patterns to create a unique scale model structure. View our on-line catalog of HO and N scale plans to get started on your next building in scale project. Beginners Welcome!

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