Twigs and Tweezers

Posted on October 15th, 2015, by Michael Rountree

How hard can it be to build a log cabin?

A friend in my N-Trak club was talking with me about how his woodland scene needs a very rustic cabin, something that you don’t tend to find on hobby store shelves. That got me thinking, maybe it’s just as easy to build something from scratch… and so late that night, I decided to go for it!

I built a basic cabin shape from cardstock, intending to glue the “logs” onto the sides. For windows and doors, I have my trusty collection of castings and unused parts from kitbash fodder; I just pulled out a few that would work. To adhere the styrene windows to the cardstock walls, what I did was I first adhered the “glass” to the back side of the casting (after the casting was painted, of course). The glass (clear styrene sheet) is cut much bigger than the casting, creating a flange of glazing that actually sits behind the logs, once they are glued on. I used white glue to tack on the window, but that flange creates a mechanical lock that assures they won’t come loose.

So the door and windows were in place, tacked onto the sides of the solid cardstock walls, and then I started laying up logs. I had a pile of twigs, culled from my tree-making materials (basically the stems of dried flowers of various types) that I had soaked in a wash of india ink and dark brown dye. I did this work the next day while at the recent train show, cutting twigs to length then gluing them on, working in layers from bottom to top. Tweezers with a fine tip made this a lot easier. It seems to others to be tedious, but to me it was easy and fun, especially seeing how it all came together.

I had never done a building like this, so I had no idea whether it would really work out! Having done it now, there are some things I might do slightly different next time, but overall I’m pretty pleased. The chimney is clay that I roughly shaped, pressed onto the side, and then used a scrap twig to impress random joint lines across it. The roof is a cedar shingle texture that I found online and printed using a laser printer; I printed a big sheet of it, so I’ve got plenty more for future projects.

This is going to get used on my friend’s N-Trak module, which we all agreed needs some scenic loving. My hope is that this serves as a focal point, to drive the rest of the scenery forward.

Log Cabin Front Door
Log Cabine Right Side
Log Cabin Rear
Log Cabin Left Side

Follow-Up: Hunting Moose

I wanted to dress this up a bit, so after a fair amount of “hunting” at various stores, I found a rubber toy animal set that includes a close-enough-to-scale moose. Perfect!

Get your shotgun, there's a moose outside!

I borrowed Mr. Moose’s rack to hang above the front door. As soft rubber, it was easy to slice off, but I needed some sort of way to mount it, like on a plaque.

Antlers mounted

I made an armature by soldering a short length of stripped wire to the back side of some brass strip that I have, then bending the wire upward and outward, and filing down the bottom of the brass “plaque” to a taper, then finally cutting the brass strip off. Some thick Gorilla-brand super glue holds each antler onto the wire.

Antler Armature

And just to prove that no moose were harmed during the making of this feature, here is the eunuch moose, alive and well!

Eunuch moose

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  1. Aventura Says:

    I love the log cabin! In Virginia, the cabins have logs that are cut and the flat side is facing out. They are all over the place here. This is a link to a log cabin close to where I live. It’s not a good picture but i can probably go take my own if you are interested. http://www.loudoun.gov/index.aspx?nid=3237

  2. Michael Rountree Says:

    Thanks for the link! That shows a lot of chinking, too, which is something that I considered adding. But I may go with this being more of a hunter’s cabin, ultra-rustic.

  3. Aventura Says:

    A hunter’s cabin is a great idea too cause then you can have wildlife, like bears, racoons. foxes, deer, eagles, turkeys. it can be a lot of fun

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