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Farm House / Hillbilly Shack Kit

(click on photo's for a larger image)

Glue Tips,

         Make sure to use a waterproof glue suitable to your climate. If you can get waxed paper in your area, for frame elements, we dip the ends in glue and put them in place on the wax paper over the drawing. The new waxed paper we get has little wax, and works great as the glue sticks slightly to it making it stay in place. It peals off well after the glue is set, but leaves glue that might have to be trimmed later for fit with other components. As with all glues, excess is best cleaned up before it sets.  If you will be doing a clear finish, we have found that small glue mistakes don't show if clear setting glue is used, and Thompson's clear water seal is used.  Still it is best to clean up, especially areas where a hardened glob interferes with further construction.  (Easier to remove a soft lump than a hard glob)

Cutting Tips,

     For cutting small material (1x2 & 1x4) a sharp knife or even side cutter can be used.  For larger sizes a razor saw or band saw with a fine tooth blade works well.  For fine tuning a piece of sandpaper laid on a flat surface works great, holding the piece vertical and giving it a few strokes with light pressure across the sandpaper.  With all tools, caution and safety is important. Remember this is a real wood product.  There might be some warping.  Material if not being used for a while (overnight) should be wrapped or bundled together.  So when you stop for the day, wrap it up.  If you do get some warped pieces, carefully bend them in the opposite direction and you can temporarily remove some of it.  Once it is glued together as a composite structure it will become stable.  Most material is shipped in 18"-20" lengths, that is equal to 36-40 feet in real dimension.  I don't think you will find many real boards that long without some warp.  Always cut longest elements first and use the leftovers for the smaller items.

Layout Boards,

   Also notice the layout board we have been using. It serves as a nice flat work surface. It is made of a piece of graph paper sandwiched between two pieces of single strength glass.  The edges are taped together with clear packing tape.  The graph paper makes it easy to keep things square.  We recommend you use wax paper to keep glue from sticking laid on the plans and on your layout board if you use one, but it isn't always available here and might not be in your area. So on with the show!


   Marking 2x4 stock to length by laying it on the truss drawing. Cut long elements first using the leftovers for the shorter items.  Keeping your pencil sharp makes for more accurate cuts.

    After I had cut material for all 5 trusses, I started gluing them together, as many pieces as I could then weighed them down with blocks until the glue set. Waxpaper on top of the plans keeps the glue from sticking to the paper.

     One completed truss. Notice it includes the rafter for the porch roof. You can leave this off, but we found it easier and not as fragile as one would think in handling them later.

     All 5 trusses turned over and glued on the other side.

Before doing the walls, if for some reason you want to resize or relocate windows or doors, (see finished photo's at the end of this page), now is the time to do it. All the windows (front and side) are placed with the bottom sill at 3' (scale dimension) above the floor which is correct for the building I took the plan ideas from. You might want the large windows in the front. This is the time to make these changes if you wish. Just keep in mind, you might run short of material if you try to make them much bigger. If that is the case, there should be enough 1x12 scrap left over from siding and roofing to cut up to what you need.

     Here working on a sidewall, I was just dipping the end of the 2x4's in the glue. Excess helps hold them in place as it sticks lightly to the waxpaper and peels off easy after it has cured.

     First side wall done. Make a second side wall just like the first. The reason the bottom plate sticks out in the front, is that will it be the end board of the porch floor.

    Laying out front and back walls with 2x4, as many elements as you can at a time. Weigh them down until the glue cures.

    Here completed front and back wall. Notice the backwall (lower one in pic) the top and bottom plate warped from the moisture of the glue. Remember we build with lumber seconds, you shouldn't experience warping to this extent. I placed weights to flatten it out and quit for the day. By next morning most of the warping was gone.

      Front and one side wall joined. Placed on our graph paper layout board to aid us in keeping it square. A piece of lumber across the open ends and clamped with clothes pins to keep it square until the glue sets. In this case within 15 minutes I was able to continue.

     All 4 walls attached together. At this point it was staying square on its own. I started to wrap up for the day, and after about 15 minutes of the glue setting up, I placed some heavy blocks on top to straighten out the back wall problem. The next morning, the warping was almost gone. I knew the siding would cover what little was left. Remember we build prototypes out of our lumber seconds so you shouldn't have a problem to this extent.

     You can see we placed a piece of kitchen plastic wrap down as I wanted to use lots of glue as this will be in contact with the earth on our layout. This will keep it from sticking and should peel off well after the glue cures. Trim last piece as needed.

     The first truss clamped in place. It is flush with the outside of the wall. Do the same with the other end truss, making sure the porch rafter extends the same distance beyond the front wall. Make sure it stays straight with the side wall. Hold a straight edge from sidewall footplate to the peak of the truss to check it. If you need, clamp a board from the truss peak to the top of the other side walls top plate to hold it straight until the glue sets. Then do the same with other side wall truss. Notice the porch decking is done.

     Use something straight to line up the ends of the porch rafters when attaching the other 3 trusses to make it easier to attach the 4x4 porch post assembly. I did the center truss first then the other two. I left this clamped to a piece of lumber to dry for 15-20 minutes, before adding the other two.

     All 5 trusses in place and a piece of lumber clamped across the top to hold things together until the glue sets. Ours ended up about 1 11/16" between them. Remember with all dimensions, your results could be different slightly due to material thickness and your building results. 

    4x4 posts and crossbeam assembled and drying.  Here again, mark the elements directly from the plan for cutting.  

    2x4 blocking between the trusses as an attachment point for the backside of the porch roof boards.  They should lap slightly over the front edge of the 2x4 top plate of the front wall.  They will also be what the front siding butts up against.  

At  this point, we felt it was better to attach the post assembly as the porch rafters hanging off the end of the trusses were somewhat fragile.  You can however, at this point do the siding, widows and door if you desire then attach the post assembly.  Your choice.

     Attaching the post assembly proved to be a challenge.  I  had to hold it by hand for about 10 minutes to get all points (4 posts to the decking & 5 rafters to the back side of the 4x4 cross beam) to stay put so I could clamp or whatever.  I ended up with the block holding everything except for the one corner post.

    I used a rubber band to solve that issue. If the rubber band wants to roll off, you can use stick pins to anchor it or clamp it with clothes pins at top and bottom. Prototyping has taught us many new ways of clamping.

     Here we started with the 1x12 siding at the left corner, and went to the door opening.  Weighed that side down and started from the other end.     

     One last small piece of 1x12 to trim and add above the door.  Remember, the 1x4 door and window trim will cover a lot of evil, so if you are a little short it's okay, and if long the part extending over the rough opening can be carved away with a sharp knife after the glue has set.

Another decision point. We continued as below with installing the side wall siding. But if you want to make a more exacting fit of the siding to the bottom side of the roof boards, then wait and doing the side wall siding and windows until after the roof is installed. Your choice. Since we are into the old west theme, we noticed they weren't that picky, and besides when it is all together and on your layout, especially at ground level, you will never see it.

   Started at the front corner, and progressed to the back. Try to butt the boards as tight together as possible. In our case, gaps didn't look bad and fit the theme of the building we were recreating. Trim last board as needed.

    Started the backwall at one corner again, but now siding extends to top of truss where roof will eventually be. Trim around rafters as needed. Trim last board at corner as needed.

     Last end wall done, notice bottoms of boards aren't even. That will be at ground level anyway. You can trim yours better if you like, but we like the rough look. Keep in mind, that when you are done the overall look is what is important.

      First of the 1x4 corner boards applied. On the side wall flush with the front siding, so the front one will cover the front facing edge of this board.

    Front one added, notice it is trimmed around the porch rafter and covers the front edge of the side wall corner board.

    Other front corner. We used scraps clamped in place to hold the front one down. I like to liberally butter the backside of trim with glue. Excess is easy to remove, but the moisture from the glue tends to make the board warp causing the ends to pull up. This is because the backside of the board has soaked up moisture and gotten longer than the front side.  

    1x6 (upright) installed as jamb in a side window, and flush with the face of the siding. Finish all window openings both sides, top and bottom, and the door sides and top only, the base plate of the front wall will be its threshold.

    1x4 trim applied to the opening. We cover the front edge of the jamb board, but if you want to get picky you can leave a small reveal of the jamb if you like. We also chose to leave the top trim board overhang the side trim elements. We have seen that on a lot of old west buildings, and like it. You can of course do as you like. Be creative!

       After we trimmed out the door opening, we measured it and made our door 1 1/8" wide, you might have to adjust this to fit your situation, as material thickness and construction results can vary.  After this assembly dried, we added the 1x6 in the bottom half, glued on from the back.  We did our vertical 4 pieces 1 3/8" long.  You can do them horizontal if you like.  

      Each window opening was measured, and the divider material cut.  Using the layout drawing as a guide to keep things square worked well, but understand that your pieces are probably going to be shorter than the drawing as it doesn't have the jamb material drawn in.  Do the same for the window area of the door.  

      Divider carefully glued in place.  Our building will probably never get glazing as we are using this as a hillbilly shack of sorts.  So we glued the dividers in centered front to back.  You might want to set them back so their back side is flush with the backside of the jamb to form a flat surface to lay glazing on without having to worry about trimming it perfectly to fit inside the opening of the window.

     Front view of finished windows and door.  We decided to attach the door in an open position.  The edge is glued directly to the jamb.  You could use stick pins as hinge pins and drill small holes for pivot points in the top jamb and bottom wall plate.  

     Starting at each end 1x12 porch boards , 15 pieces 1 3/4" long.  Overhanging front and ends of porch frame 1/4".  

     Center filled in, slight space (about 1/32" in our case)  between boards and none was trimmed  Spaces must be narrow enough to be covered by the 1x2 batten strips.

     1x2 Batten strips applied and held down with a block. I left them long to make it easy to see in the picture and attach. Trim them to length after the glue has cured with a sharp side cutter or scissors.  

     The first 1x12 roof board on the front overlaps the back of the porch by 1/8" and rests on top of the batten strips. Overhang of 1/4" on the sidewalls. We used 17 pieces 7 7/8" long, 8 on the front half and 9 on the back.

     First roof board on the back side notice same 1/4" overhang on the ends and about 1/16" over the ends of the rafters.

       Another view of the first board on the backside clamped to each rafter end.

     Apply 1x12 roof boards to the front side working your way to the peak. I applied glue to all 5 trusses (front side rafter only) then put them in place. Then adjust overlap for evenness. Put a block under the front porch to tilt the assembly and weigh the roofing down with a wood block.

    Here same method used on the backside, but you can see the block underneath to make it easier for weighing down the roof boards.

    Apply 2, 1x4's as ridge cap.  This I had to hold by hand to get it to stay tight together where they meet at the peak.  

     Here ready for sealing, painting and detail.  

     A side view.  From these finished photos you can decide if you want to make changes in the windows.  You might want to add a 1/4" or 1/2" tall riser frame around the base, or some stone as a foundation. Both would be a great touch.  I've been thinking the stone route using small river rock set in real mortar.  

     Seen here in a temporary setting on our layout next to an Aristo C-16.  Looks pretty good for a rookie like me.  But that is the beauty of real wood.  

  Just remember to seal the structure inside and out to keep moisture problems to a minimum. Finish with exterior paints, as you would a real outdoor building. We recommend buildings be taken in over the winter months.

Good Luck and Happy Railroading!

Let us know if you have any suggestions or inputs for this tips page!


Mark & Sue Smith
Smith Pond Junctions Railroad Products

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