Over the coming weeks we’ll be compiling a list of your card modelling questions & doing our very best to answer them for you, to help you get more out of the very rewarding hobbies of Railway Modelling & Card Modelling. So please feel free to post your questions up via the comments form below and we’ll get onto turning them into a useful resource for us all to share!

Don’t be shy… any question is a valid question, from downloading & printing, to knife blades, to glues, paper types, where to find resources to print kits, how to fold stuff, cut stuff…. you name it… Ask away!

Thank you!

Justin

Card Modelling F.A.Q.

Q: What glue(s) do you recommend?

A: It all comes down to personal preference, but I (Justin), tend to stick to 3. Regular Uhu that comes in a tube for card to card construction work, particularly large parts. For small, detail work, I use Deluxe Materials Roket Card Glue. It comes with a fine nozzle for applying just a tiny bit of glue to small parts and it grabs really quickly. For glue texture sheets and paper wraps & use either UHU liberally spread over the entire unprinted side of the paper, let it dry for a few seconds, then smooth the paper into place, or I use Pritt Glue Sticks. I’ve tried the cheap ones but can’t get on with them. Proper branded Pritt seems to work well.

Q: I always have trouble getting roofs to stick on to my buildings… Any tips?

A: This probably comes down to the glue you are using mostly. I’d highly recommend the Roket Card Glue as it grabs very quickly. Then once it’s got a hold, you can run a bead of glue round the entire roof joint on the inside of the building.

Q: What’s the best way of adding weathering to finished buildings?

A: Artists pastels & chalks are probably one of the best materials to use. You can grind them up to make fine weathering powders by rubbing them on a piece of fine sandpaper, then apply them with your fingertips. Use them sparingly to build up the weathering rather than plastering it on. Practise on scrap card & paper until you get the desired effects, before attempting it on a finished model.

Q: Why does my laminated cereal box card bend when I stick brick paper on to it ? I use UHU glue.

A: This could be happening for a number of reasons and we’ve had it happen to us too. If you’re just laminating a texture sheet (brick paper etc) onto a single layer of cereal packet, always apply a weight if possible to the sheet while the UHU dries. Pop the sheets under a couple of heavy books or magazines for a few minutes and that should keep things lovely and flat.

If you’re laminating multiple layers of cereal packet card together, think of them like plywood… alternate the finishes as you glue them so put two unprinted sides together or two printed sides together. This means that as the glue dries, both surfaces shrink in the same way leaving you with a nice flat laminated piece once it’s dry.

Q: What knives do you recommend for cutting card?

A: Having a sharp knife to cut your card is absolutely essential when it comes to getting clean, crisp lines on your models, and unfortunately nothing blunts knife blades quite as quickly as cardboard! The type of knife you use is really down to personal preference, and each one has their merits.

  • Surgeons Scalpel (Swan Morton) – These are extremely sharp – the sharpest of them all, and the blades are very low cost when purchased in bulk
  • X-Acto Knife – These are American made craft knives but the blades are more expensive than the surgeons scalpel.
  • Swann Morton Handle No.1 & A.C.M. 11 Blades – Identical to the Xacto Knife but made in England. Again, blades are quite pricey.
  • Snap-Off Plastic Craft Knife – I’m not a big fan of these to be honest. They’re very sharp and great value but something about snapping the blades scares the living daylights out of me!

Q: What’s the best way of cutting out window apertures?

A: Windows can be very tricky to cut out, especially when working with thick card at small scales such as N and smaller. The most accurate way we’ve found is to cut lightly from each outer edge to the centre of the window frame, gradually making your way through the card. If you try and cut through too far too quickly you’re likely to either slip & end up with a cut that wanders, or worse a broken blade! Use the knife point to pinpoint the exact corner of the window opening, then cut to the centre of the window frame or just a little further. Then repeat from the opposite corner. It does take a while, especially on thicker card, but the extra effort is worth it.

Card Modelling Tips

  • Print texture papers & coloured texture wrap sections of the kits onto A4 labels. It saves lots of messy gluing & they will stick to most clean surfaces… Steve
  • Knife tip! Use the snap off blade knives and regularly snap for new cutting blade for nice clean cuts, especially when cutting card… Brian
  • To keep buildings square, always fit a ground floor base and ceiling under the roof. Also add triangular braces added to internal corners for added strength… Brian
  • Print on matt finish photo paper as this has less tendency to smudge and has better water resistance than regular copier paper… Brian
  • If fitting lighting, plan for it before starting building as sometimes it is difficult to install at the end… Brian

30 Responses to Card Modelling Questions & Answers

  1. Steve Clark says:

    ‘Morning Justin,
    An idea that you may include in your guide.
    I print onto A4 white labels that saves a lot of mess and they stick to most clean surfaces.
    Hope this of use and I’m looking forward to more models; how about a London tenement building?
    Best regards,
    Steve

  2. JustinN says:

    Cheers Steve. I’ve been meaning to experiment with labels… Which ones do you use? Do you get any chance to reposition stuff or is it a one off get it right first time thing?

  3. Graham Johnson says:

    I have two questions.

    1. What glue(s) do you recommend?

    2. I always have trouble getting roofs to stick on to my buildings. Any tips?

  4. Steve H says:

    Hi Justin, my problem is how to weather the finished model to take away that newly made look. I model in N Gauge

  5. Brian Norris says:

    Hi Justin,
    For me it’s the getting started. I have a need to build an arched bridge in O scale. This is a road bridge over what was a double track railway but all I have to go on is some photos and memory, so dimensions is one problem. Next would be the innards or support structure – you make all these lovely sheets but what they get stuck to is equally important. At the moment, I have a hazy notion of a box at either end supporting a box across the middle. An added complication is that the bridge is ‘flared’ i.e. the road is narrower at the top of the arch than at the approach, so nothing is square. My first rough attempt with Corn Flake packets was a disaster so any help is much appreciated.
    Regards,
    Brian

  6. Andy Jakubowski says:

    Hi Justin,
    At 71, I’m technically challenged computer-wise. After starting out with N-scale 8 years ago at age 63, to keep myself busy and not being a pain in the butt to my 5 children (they have their families lives to live) after my wife passed away (she thought she had indigestion–4 hours later, she was gone from a massive heart attack), it was gently suggested by them that N-scale may be a little too small to work on for me. So to prove them wrong, I also took up Z-scale and to REALLY make my point, I took up T-scale. Now, at 1:450, that is SMALL. But it proved to them and me, that this old fart still has steady hands and good eyesight to deal with that scale, let alone with N-scale.

    So after this lengthy introduction, I have a unique question for you. But first I have to say I really look forward to your newsletters, and enjoy reading your family’s closeness. That’s something that not too many people experience in this hustle bustle world we live in. Stay like that and don’t ever change.

    So here’s my question: Is there a way in which your downloads can be “shrunk” and printed close to T-scale 450 ratio? As I said, I’m computer challenged. It’s a wonder I know how to send and receive emails. But I do follow instructions well.

    Stay well and warm regards from across the pond in New York.
    -Andy

  7. Lynton says:

    Hi Justin

    I was just thinking the other day, whilst it’s not specific to problems in producing card models; have thought about wind farm models?

    Best Wishes

    Lynton

  8. Debbie O'Reilly says:

    Hi Justin

    I have used your wooden toilet out of the free sample sheds as little garden
    sheds on my camp site with your static caravans. Also on my allotments as some
    where to keep a few garden tools a few have their doors open.
    Sorry i cant send photos as i dont know how to. Did you exspect them to be used for this purpose…….. till the next time from Debbs

  9. Geoffrey Holland says:

    Hi Justin.
    I print straight to A4 200gsm white card which makes it a bit easyer to play around with it
    when cutting,When you come to the parts that have a fold line just scribe it on the back
    with a blunt trim knife blade then you willl not go through the card then fold it,Then before
    I glue the kit together I line the back of the kit with cereal card to make it stronger,
    It takes a bit long to do but its a better kit.( When lining the kit do a dry run first to check
    It fits OK )? Geoff

  10. Brian Davis says:

    Knives: Always use the snap off blade knives and regularly snap for new cutting blade for clean cuts.
    I always fit a ground floor base and ceiling under the roof to keep all square. Also add triangular braces to internal corners.
    I like the suggestion to print on 200gsm card and will try it.
    I print on matt finish photo paper as this has less tendency to smudge and has better water resistance than bond paper.
    If fitting lighting, plan for it before starting building as sometimes it is difficult to install at the end

  11. Ted Sproat says:

    Hi, why does my laminated cereal box card bend when I stick brick paper on to it ? I use UHU glue.
    Cheers Ted.

  12. John Bartlett says:

    I have always had trouble cutting out windows, especially in N gauge. What do people find is the best way of keeping them square and sharp cornered? I tried making a square cornered punch but it wasn’t very successful

  13. Gerry says:

    I sometimes find it confusion when items are named in the instructions, I think it would help if I was an architect. Maybe also adding a # to each item. Glue 1 to 2 is easier than glue the small wall parapet to the overhanging window ! Other than that, I’m on my first item, the pub, and it seems to be much easier than “Scalescenes”. Ever thought of a series of Pubs from around the Country ?

  14. Martin Hale says:

    Good evening Justin,

    I started off printing out some of the card kits printed in some of the model railway magazines. I quickly determined that printing onto regular copy paper was a waste of time.

    I found a source of 200g/sq/m. photographic card. It has a smooth matt surface and takes colour printing with no leakage. I stick it to mounting card when more rigidity is require.

    The one I use is made by Mondi Group from Austria.

    Hope this helps someone else?

    Martin

  15. adrian says:

    Hi Justin
    Not a question but a comment – please keep in mind that not all your modellers work in the more usual scales [just rescale the print – no problem] but, more importantly, are not modelling the modern image. Some old cottages and old containers would be useful. I hope that your telephone/AA boxes will include older styles too.
    Meantime, thanks for all the updates and the new ideas
    Adrian

  16. Geoffrey Holland says:

    Hi Justin
    Just a re-ply to Brian Davis about the 200gsm card the cheapers I’ve found is at
    Poundland stores. And Better card.
    Geoff

  17. Steve Cox says:

    To print at a different scale, click Print, then the Poster button in later versions of Adobe Reader. Enter the desired percentage of size decrease into the Tile Scale: box, then press the Print button.

  18. Steve Cox says:

    Adhesives:

    I model in N scale & use glue sticks (I prefer Pritt) for gluing printed pages to heavier card, Aileen’s Tacky Glue for heavier work (gluing card pieces together, etc, and UHU for plastic pieces such as acetate windows.

  19. Steve Cox says:

    Paper for Printing:

    I mostly use HP 90gsm Bright White paper & glue it to various weights of card. I have used some higher quality coated papers & while the print quality is a little better, I found it scarcely noticeable on N scale structures, although I would certainly use high quality papers for photographs.

  20. Steve Cox says:

    Cutting out windows:

    In N scale, I use a snap off blade knife & very regularly snap off the dulling part of the blade to prevent tearing of delicate pieces. That said, in the smaller scales, window frames are a constant challenge & sometimes I simply print the frame onto inkjet transparency, with a corresponding loss of definition & colour depth.

    Just take your time & walk away if frustration creeps in 🙂 I sure do.

  21. Joss Murray says:

    With regards to using A4 Labels, I have been doing this for a very long time and I find it reasonably easy to use and not so messy as glue. The ones I use are from “Staples” and cost £16.99 for a pack of 100. There are probably other suppliers but I haven’t found them yet. (I should try I suppose). I also get my card for building from “The Range” the A4 size is quite reasonable in price and you can buy it in much larger sizes and colours other than white. I use “Swann Morton” Scalpels and No.11 Blades which I buy in Boxes, a five blade pack wont last 5 minutes! Hope this helps a few people as I find card modelling looks much more realistic than plastic

  22. John Turner says:

    Hi Justin
    When building card models i use the card from the back of a A4 writing pad i find this to be very sturdy and i use PVA glue
    regards
    John

  23. David Finney says:

    Hi,
    Can you tell me when the Bus Company logos are available, I am eagerly waitng the Yorkshire Traction decal
    Thanks
    Dave

  24. Geoff Medland says:

    Hi Justin
    A couple of tips for other modellers, that I have gleaned from experience:

    When you score and bend card for corners of buildings, or cut apertures for windows, etc., it leaves an unsightly white edge. To disguise this, I use a fine tip felt pen of an appropriate colour to run along the edge. These pens can be bought from art or craft shops and I’ve tended to use the Pentel ones – there’s a wide range of colours, so you should easily find one to suit. Colour the edges before you assemble the part to another one. Also, work from the rear side of the card when you can, so that when you slip (and you will!), it won’t result in an unsightly line on the decorative side of the card.
    For glue, I use Bostik Glue and Fix clear. The nozzle is fairly small and, with a bit of practice, it’s reasonably easy to regulate how fine a bead or spot you can deposit. It grips well, but gives you enough time to manoeuvre the parts into exactly the right position. It’s also good for sicking clear plastic windows to card.
    For cutting out window apertures, try a Swan Morton scalpel, with a number 10A blade. It has a very sharp point, which enables you to get right into the corners.

    Hope this is helpful to someone.

  25. Maurice says:

    to stop lamination when gluing together cereal packet card, as well as thinking plywood and altering laminations, once glued i sandwich layers between two pieces of glass,always perfectly flat, came from two picture frames and place a couple of books on top. Result perfectly flat laminates.

  26. John Turner says:

    Hi Justin
    I have been trying to come up with an idea of making realistic window in 4 mm scale scratch building it maybe of help to other modelers,
    I print out the window frames on sticky labels and stick them on to clear p lactic film , then i cut five peaces of card three peaces 3 mm wide and two peaces 2 mm wide i glue these side by side,
    This creates two channels which then you can slide in the window frames in this enables you to slide the windows open if you wish, i hope this of help
    Regards
    John Turner

  27. Brian Tapper says:

    Could you let me have if possible a copy of the depot signage that was used on the model bus depot that you have just produced.

    Thanks and keep up the good work with the modelling.

    Brian

  28. Alan says:

    Wipe your blades across the rough bottom rim of a cup or mug or restore a keen edge to them and get a bit more life out of them.

    Is there a guide anywhere to what to laminate to get the required thickness of card for certain parts?

  29. Steve Clark says:

    Hi Justin,
    Like Joss I buy my A4 labels from Staples in 100 packets, and they soon get used up! Be careful when you apply the sheet to the model as it sticks instantly with no positioning possible. I peel off a small section of the backing paper, position the edge chosen on your model the gradually peel of the rest of the backing all the while smoothing out to eliminate air bubbles.

  30. Richard Foinette says:

    I am in the process of making the wall for my churchyard, using the Old Stone Wall download. As supplied, the wall comes in 190mm lengths. However, I need a minimum of 300mm. Can you recommend a way to join the walls without the joint showing? I had thought of making some pillars, but that did not seem right for this type of wall. In addition, I would have no suitable cap for the pillar.

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