All:

I am looking for recommendations for tools for shaping extruded styrofoam (pink, blue, green) - particularly  hillside shapes.  Specifically, I am trying to get the final shaping of slopes and terrain right.

Before you suggest something, here are the tools I already have:

  • Pruning style saw
  • Foam Factory (heated wands, wires)
  • Surform

Again, I'm looking for tools that can help in the final shaping.

Thanks!

George

TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

Original Post
MikeH posted:

These box cutters come in handy.  I'm building a Christmas layout right now and I'm using them a lot.

Excellent suggestion.  Thank you.  I forgot to mention that I have them as well.  

Of course, I could use a couple more.

George

TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

The foam is regular Great Stuff foam that you can buy in the spray can at Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menard’s, Walmart, etc.  Be aware that there are both 12 Oz. & 16 Oz. cans.  On a per ounce basis, Home Depot has the best price in my area (St. Louis).

I don’t know about the batting but I don’t think it matters.  Any old quilt batting will do.  I bought some that has a pretty low pile (I didn’t want it too fluffy).  I’m going to start this weekend so fingers crossed.

MikeH

Mike H:   Thanks for referencing this topic.  Glad you're going to "go for it"  Don't hesitate to reach out and ask me any questions if something comes up. 

George.  I have a few free minutes at lunch hour so thought I should chime in.   I originally found this method on youtube, tried it and was totally sold.  I will try to find link to original video, but here are a few quick answer's to your questions: 

Like Mike H said,   Great stuff regular from Home Depot is what I have had the best luck with.   I used the same "LOW LOFT" batting recommended by the gentleman who got me into this.... It comes in Low, Medium and High and refers to the thickness of the batting..... 

Here is a link to the original youtube video I watched....   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9C6aHEoUWYg

It was done by this gentleman:  Scale Model Trains & Colorado's Joint Line 

My youtube channel id is:  CJ Ambrosi     you should find all the making hills and mountains videos there

After I did the first hill module following his method, I decided to add my own twist which was using the expanding spray foam under the batting.....  requires much less foam carving time and mess and enables you to shape it as it cures...   

I am not a big instructional video guy, but I found this method so much better than making hard shell mountains that I just had to share it....  All my scenery is done this way now, it's cheaper, lighter and much faster in my opinion than plaster and hydrocal.... Once the foam sets up you bury it in paint and start putting down dirt, grass, foliage etc.  

Chris a

 

 

Don't know if this helps, George, but in building a mountain tunnel for my layout I started with the extruded foam as a base and added the Great Stuff spray foam to get a more rounded shape and, rather than using quilting material, I applied WS plaster sheets over it to get the final shape I wanted and then painted and added various turfs and foliage. Also, you should know that the spray foam comes in two varieties - one that expands quite a bit and one that doesn't, so you have a choice.

TUNNEL 2TUNNEL 3TUNNEL 4TUNNEL 5

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G3750 posted:
Specifically, I am trying to get the final shaping of slopes and terrain right.

George,

I did all of my shaping of the foam with my bandsaw to shape each component to something close and then assembled the terrains bit by bit with hot glue. Over that went a painted on layer of Hydrocal to finalize the surface and make it into something that I could "plant", glue into/onto, all of the scenery items.


Not captains of industry, not makers of things, keep your vulgar monies! We are a justice sandwich, no toppings necessary. Living rooms of America, do you catch my drift? Do you dig?

For my scenery, I created hills by building-up layers (one at a time) of one-inch-thick extruded pink foam. The layered pieces were shaped (in planform and slope) with a razor saw before being attached. I glued the layers together with a combination of two-part epoxy and yellow carpenter's glue. Polyurethane foam rock shapes and plaster rock shapes from rock molds were glued to the built-up shape and the foam was then covered with a layer of mold-a-scene lightweight plaster molded by hand to obtain the final shape before adding ground cover, small rocks and trees.

MELGAR

MELGAR_12X8_CORNER_15

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I had a local train enthusiast do some of my rock cliffs. I bought 2" pink foam. He used 3M Super 77 to glue layers together to get the right height   He just used a razersaw to scrape the foam to a basic shape then he'd cut the horizontal lines after that he'd  pick at the foam with the corner of the razersaw. It was an awful mess, but it turned out pretty good.Rocks1Rocks2

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Read your intro....understand what you're seeking.

However, a few related 'tools' that I've found handy in working with open- and closed-cell foams are:

  • Shop vacuum! 
  • Hot knife (Micro-Mark has a nice one)
  • Good ventilation...to somewhere else except into the rest of the house!
  • Stanley Surform tools...some are particularly handy/quick to blend contours.

I also have an assortment of old tiger saw, saber saw blades (missing/dull teeth) with a split dowel duct-taped around one end for a cheap handle that I use for 'artistic' (..........) purposes on the layout...foams and plasters, beware!

I've often thought that training a cat to work a layout instead of the upholstered furniture could come in handy in situations such as this...

carvin' cat

KD

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George

Lots of previous posts for ideas for you to think about.

I have beat,  grind,  cut, whacked and numerous other ways worked with foam. I also used my table saw and chop saw.

I copied another forum members methods to get mountains and tunnels looking the way I liked. I really like tunnels.

The way I did mine is not the way for the faint of heart. lol

Good luck and and most important have fun with it.

Larry

Sorry the pictures are so weak.

DSCN1271

 

DSCN1267DSCN1292DSCN1291DSCN0018

IMG_0272IMG_0274

TCA 13-69595

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Arnold D. Cribari posted:
Jim Policastro posted:

My favorite tool:

Tools 001

When I start to lose patience and want faster results:

Tools 002

Results:

OGRPinnBas 012

 

OGRPinnBas 011

Jim

Fabulous 

 

Jim Policastro posted:

My favorite tool:

Tools 001

When I start to lose patience and want faster results:

Tools 002

Results:

OGRPinnBas 012

 

OGRPinnBas 011

Jim

This fabulous scenery makes the layout a work of art, IMO. Arnold

In my little world, I leave this troubled world behind.

For tools,  the first thing you need is glidden gripper.   Accept no substitute for stacking foam together,  this is the only product you need. 

For shaping the standard foam cutting tools work okay,  but I had some of my best luck with my wife's pumice stone.   Now the stone is generally used for scraping callouses of one's feet,  but it does a great job roughing up otherwise smooth foam board surfaces.  A rasp type file works well too.

20191114_203548

I have a straight hot knife, but like this battery operated unit as well. 

20191114_203754

Here's my work. This is the top piece f6my Halloween layout. 

20191114_203707good luck yourwith project i

May God Bless us all.

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chris a posted:

Mike H:   Thanks for referencing this topic.  Glad you're going to "go for it"  Don't hesitate to reach out and ask me any questions if something comes up. 

George.  I have a few free minutes at lunch hour so thought I should chime in.   I originally found this method on youtube, tried it and was totally sold.  I will try to find link to original video, but here are a few quick answer's to your questions: 

Like Mike H said,   Great stuff regular from Home Depot is what I have had the best luck with.   I used the same "LOW LOFT" batting recommended by the gentleman who got me into this.... It comes in Low, Medium and High and refers to the thickness of the batting..... 

Here is a link to the original youtube video I watched....   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9C6aHEoUWYg

It was done by this gentleman:  Scale Model Trains & Colorado's Joint Line 

My youtube channel id is:  CJ Ambrosi     you should find all the making hills and mountains videos there

After I did the first hill module following his method, I decided to add my own twist which was using the expanding spray foam under the batting.....  requires much less foam carving time and mess and enables you to shape it as it cures...   

I am not a big instructional video guy, but I found this method so much better than making hard shell mountains that I just had to share it....  All my scenery is done this way now, it's cheaper, lighter and much faster in my opinion than plaster and hydrocal.... Once the foam sets up you bury it in paint and start putting down dirt, grass, foliage etc.  

Chris a

 

 

Chris,

Thanks for responding.  I will watch the videos in their entirety over the next few days as time allows.  But if you will permit me a few questions:

  1. Where do you find this "LOW LOFT" batting?  Does it have a product name?
  2. After putting down the batting and letting it attach to the foam, how do you apply paint? (spray, brush)
  3. What kind of paint do you use?

 

Again, thanks.  This looks very interesting.

And my thanks to all who responded! 

George

TCA, NMRA, PRRT&HS Modeling the PRR Panhandle Division between 1948-1957.

breezinup posted

Sedimentary rock is certainly popular, it appears.   

Stacked foam, which this thread is about, is most useful in modeling sedimentary rock with its horizontal strata.

Plaster castings from latex molds are better for other type rocks unless you are really adept at carving believable rock shapes.

Plaster castings:

OGRPinnRocks 020

Jim

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Really like the technique noted above by Chris A showing the link to YouTube where the modeler uses low loft quilted batting for coverage in place of plaster cloth.  I'm just starting the mountain and landscape portion of the layout.  I'm going to give this technique a try.

To answer G 3750's question at the top about a cutting tool, I've successfully used a retired electric cutting knife...makes shaping easy and quick.

Has anyone else used the quilted batting technique with success??

Paul

Capetrainman posted:

Has anyone else used the quilted batting technique with success??

Paul,

I just used the quilt batting on top of spray foam technique for my Christmas layout.  I was going for a white/snow landscape rather than realism but for my purposes it was a complete success.  Don't look at my attempts as the highest form of this technique!  It's my first attempt at scenery of any kind.  Using what I learned, I know it will only get better at it.  I'll definitely use it again for my regular layout.  You can see a few pics in this thread.

Mike

MikeH

Just starting my scenery.  Have to build some mountains over some turnouts.  The pink foam makes for a real light easy to lift out & remove item for possible service later on.

For basic shaping I use a 6"  spackle knife and a small recip saw with a 12' blade.

PM of 11.23.09 007PM of 11.23.09 010PM of 11.23.09 011

Just use multiple gentle passes for a clean dust free edge.  That gives me the general shape, then I bring out the recip saw and make a real mess.

Eternity is a long time to have been wrong.

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Mike H...thanks for the response.  My last layout must have had a ton of plaster cloth on the mountain and land terrain.  Taking the layout down before moving was a dusty and huge task. 

This quilted batting product seems like a breeze to use, and the product accepts paint well and displays sort of a natural terrain rough look, after painting.  Regarding painting, the video link above in Chris A's post explains how the presenter applies paint to the batting and then applies ground cover from a spoon on to the wet paint...no adhesive needed at that point.  My challenge is to attempt to perfect the shaping of the foam to make it look realistic.

 

Paul

Yes and yes.  It is easy and super light.  I started planning my Christmas layout earlier this year and that's what led me down this path.  I wanted something light that I could store easily and perhaps use for a few years.  Mission accomplished.  The layout is in four quarters any of which I can pick up over my head with one hand.  It weighs next to nothing.

You might even try making a practice mountain with the full intention of throwing it out.  It's like making pancakes: the first one always looks the worst.  After that, you get your technique down and it's easy.

Have you ever used Great Stuff spray foam around the house?  I have quite a bit.  When I've used it around window and door casings, my primary concern was always making sure I didn't use too much.  I was worried about over expansion.  What I discovered for this project is it's almost the exact opposite.  You want to be pretty liberal with it.  Then you give it a few minutes to expand.  Then you put the quilt batting on there.  Then wait a little more.  It seems like when I put the quilt batting on there, it really killed the expansion.  After that, I start pushing on it and encouraging it to take the shape I wanted.

And yes, I used only glitter on top of the white paint.  No adhesive.  When it was dry, I took it out on the lawn and brushed off the excess glitter.

MikeH

I have used a lot of the yellow Great Stuff, however it always had a rash of pock marks, gopher holes all over the surface needing extra skim coating.  Great Stuff did not respond well to heat carving with a hot wire.

A year or so ago I switched to the white Loctite "tite foam".  It yields a much more consistent surface, much easier to shape w/o revealing voids.  However it MUST be left to fully cure over night.  Just because the surface is hard does not mean the core is fully developed.

The Stuff is a bit harder to shape, the Tite foam shapes up nicely.  I use it for berms and raised module edges to prevent fall overs onto the floor and over shooting TT edges.

IMG_9004

Initial application on extended bottom waffle skin.

IMG_9005

Trimming double tall fascia for dropped floor coal ramp.  You can see where I started to trim the ground profile in the right lower edge of the photo.

IMG_9098 [1)

Above and below;  base application of over run TT protection in prep for covering.

IMG_9095

 

 

Eternity is a long time to have been wrong.

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