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Discussion > On Materials and Methods

Like Thom, I have a stash of chipboard sheets that my Dad brought home from work when he was a newspaper employee. They measure about .047" thick. I am running low so I have been experimenting with other materials for a good alternative. From Blick (on-line) I have purchased Crescent Gray News Mounting board which is similar to the chipboard at .040" thick, cuts and glues well, cheap at $2.18 for a large sheet 32" x 40". Also very nice on N scale models is Strathmore 400 Series mixed media pad which is 140# and measures .020" thick and can be folded if scored, cost is $7.86 for a 15 sheet pad of 11" x 14" (also Blick). Still on my list to try (not purchased yet) are Crescent single .050" and double .090" thick white or black mounting board. I also want to try Task Board which is available form N Scale Architect. It sounds interesting as it is a wood fiber product which can be formed into shapes (like curved walls or tanks) when dampened and retains its shape when dried. Anyone interested in viewing my N-scale builds can do so at
May 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Rarig
The Walmart 110# cardstock is 0.009" thick, which is actualy 3Xs thicker than 20#, so I guess its actually 65#. This is what I use for HO. Though I'm thinking of going to Matt Photo Paper, as it gives a brighter, clearer image.
May 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRon Thibault
I don't use the boards mentioned for printing the kits, just for internal strengthening. I have printed on 110# and 65# cardstock from Office Max but the clarity and detail are not nearly as good as photo paper. I was using a "photo matte" from Wal-Mart that is .0065" thick with good results, but they have changed suppliers and now I have had a problem with the paper de-laminating when tight folds are made. Something you might want to try is Strathmore "Satin Board" though you'll probably have to search Amazon to find it. It's kind of expensive, but it prints beautifully, one side is satin gloss and the other is matte. At .010" thick it is a little heavy and it is very stiff so it can be used "stand-alone" with very little internal support. If you view my builds, the Kosma Machine and Mercantile are made with this paper. The Jefferson Ice is made with photo paper and a backer (I think I used the method described below). Most of the remainder are made from 110# cardstock.

A method I have tried and like for most projects is to print the kit on matte photo or hi resolution ink jet paper about .004" to .007" thick. Then I print the walls, roofs, internal braces, etc on 65# cardstock using black ink only (to save on color). I laminate the cardstock to a thicker board like the 140# Strathmore then cut out the window and door openings. This gives some thickness to the walls so that windows can be glued to the inside. If the kit design has "walls" around the windows that are to be folded forward into an open box, these can be glued inside the window openings in the heavier board which makes it easier to form them; remember we're dealing with folded strips about 1/32" wide. I then cut out the cardstock/backer sandwich, removing the assembly tabs. Now I cut out window and door openings in the color printed photo matte cover layer and do the necessary layering of details on the outside walls. Then I fold and assemble the building using the design glue tabs. Finally I position and glue the cardstock/backer to the inside of the photo matte walls using either ACC or "Duco" type cement to prevent warping. NOTE: it will be necessary to trim the width/length of the backer to compensate for the material thickness. I doesn't have to be exact as long as you line up the window/door openings. This way if your bends are a little "off" it will still fit together.

As long as I have the podium .... do any of you builders know where I can buy a knife handle that will hold single-edge razor blades? I prefer cutting with them but the pressure is hard on my arthritic fingers!!! I can find the scraper holders but not one for straight-line cutting.
May 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Rarig
I had the same issue with most cutting methods - SORE fingers. I now use the single edge razor blades from the hardware store. I clamp one in the jaws of a miniature pair of long-nose vise-grip pliers. I place the razor blade so that the cutters of the pliers bite down on one end, and the other end is clamped at the point of the jaws. It works REALLY well, and is VERY comfortable. It is, however, a dangerous tool, and must be used with great care.

I have also found that when the blade dulls, I can take a pair of cutters, and break off the leading edge of the blade. Thus exposing a new cutting edge.
If you are interested, I can post a photo of what the gadget look like.

I found a pic of what the pliers look like (without the blade):
May 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJT
please do post a picture.
May 30, 2013 | Registered CommenterThom
Sure, You can see in here that I have broken off the dull razor edge to expose a new sharp edge.
I have it set up to fit my right hand. I do use xactos a lot as well, more often for styrene and wood, but this thing cuts much better when making long cuts in cardboard, like the cuts needed for Building a model like Cream City Tool Works.
May 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T
Some kind of handle could be rapid prototyped and 3d printed.
May 31, 2013 | Registered CommenterThom
Thanks JT. I just ordered a mini vise-grip plier to try it. Say Thom - why don't you design the nifty holder and have it printed; you could sell it as an extra to your kit designs; make a SMALL fortune ;)
May 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDave Rarig
Hey guys - if you're going to use a tool with a handle, why not try a utility knife that uses blades that break off to expose a new cutting edge? That's what I use and I find it very comfortable. Mine is made by Task Force and I got it at Lowe's. Stanley and many others make them.

June 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim Bisbee
Like Jim Bisbee, I use a utility knife with snap off blades. The full size handle (my favorite is an OLFA) allows a comfortable grip, and the snap off feature keeps the blade point fresh. What ever handle you use, Lowe's KOBALT blades at $5.99 for 25 is the best price going. They don't snap off quite as easily as the pricier blades, so keep needle nose pliers handy to snap off blades with control. The minute the blade drags, snap it off. Thus kept sharp it will give results as good as razor blades and N0. 11 blades with better control and comfort. And by buying your blades 25 at a time you are not tempted to keep using a dull point.
June 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBob Bruce
Really nice structure.I'm working in HO & can't even imagine trying to do it in N...
September 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjerry