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Telegraph Office 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!

Using 2x4's make back, front, and 2 side walls. Marking stock to length by laying it on the drawing. Cut long elements first using the leftovers for the shorter items.  Keeping your pencil sharp makes for more accurate cuts. This is a good time to think about changes you might want to make, reposition doors or windows, etc. Just keep in mind the overall structure and where other components might have to connect so you don't put a door or window in an bad spot!.

Add a few elements at a time. Wood blocks used to hold things in place until glue sets.

More progress on the walls.Front wall complete, can be slid off the plan onto a flat surface to dry so you can start on the next ones.

Walls done, ready to assemble.

Here a top view from the front, showing wall relationship. Side walls inside front and back walls.

All 4 walls put together. They are sitting on our glass layout board with graph paper under it. The graph paper makes a handy square reference to keep the walls square. A block of wood can be set on top to weight it down so it sits flat.

Here an example of trusses made with 2x4, we laid out the framing on one at a time, then slid the waxpaper to a fresh spot and did another.

All 4 trusses completed. The secret with trusses, is to keep them as uniform as possible. This will result in easier placement later, and a structure that looks straighter. All the effort you put in now to make sure everything is as straight and square as possible will pay off in the end.

Structure on its front, with the front truss in place weighed down if necessary on the flat layout board. This is a great way to keep the outside trusses flush with the outside of the side wall, and straight.

Then do the same with the back truss.

The center trusses installed. Ours ended up about 7/8" apart.

2x4 added between them at the peak for strength. Get the trusses lined up as straight as possible so your roof line looks straight. The peak is the best to use, for line up, as truss rafter ends, can be easily trimmed before you apply the roofing.

We started with the 1x12 siding on the front wall.

After the first or end piece is done it is easy to add several pieces at a time. Butt them as tightly together as possible. Trim around openings as you go. Continue working your way around, fitting the corners as tight as possible.

The first roof board held in place until the glue started to set. 1/16" to 1/8" on side and 1/2" on the back. Do other side same way.

Both sides shown here clamped.

Mass gluing of roof boards. Notice overlap approx. 1/8" even it out best you can, and remember that small differences will add to the realism. As seen in photos below, you could block the structure at an angle and put blocks on it to hold it in place. I like to hold them sometimes just to take a think break. With the palm of my hand on a small structure like this. We ended up with 7 roof boards on each side 4" long.

1x4 ridge cap in place.

1x6 door and window jambs being installed. Front edge should be flush with the surrounding siding.

1x4 trim installed. Top element left to overhang the side ones, a common old west detail. Notice the side trim on the door stops at the top of the 2x4 bottom plate of the front wall frame work. This is so the porch floor can attach to the siding without trimming.

2x2 for window divider. Use the drawing only for keeping it square. Pieces should be cut to fit your opening as construction results can vary and the drawing doesn't allow for the jamb material. It should be glued in place with it's back side flush with the back side of the jambs. This makes it easier to install glazing later.

2x6 for the front Porch floor face down. A bead of glue applied and spread out forcing it between the boards

Porch floor glued directly to the front siding.

4x4 for front post assemblies. Again wood blocks hold things in place until the glue sets.

Porch roof trusses made of 2x4 (2 needed)

We used the porch truss to mark where the back of the post should go.

With the structure on its back, we did the same using the post assembly to mark where the top of the bottom 2x4 of the porch truss would go on the front siding.

Post assembly glued in place. The prototype turned out with the 1/8" set back from the front edge of the porch floor and the front of the posts. They were flush with the sides of the porch floor. Notice the wood block holding the assembly upright while we got ready to attach the porch trusses.

The first truss in place. Another block leaning against it to hold it against the front siding.

Other end truss in place. Notice 2x4 (not shown on plans ) glued to the front siding to act as a gluing point for the porch roof boards. This 2x4's top should be flush with the top of the end trusses.

1x12 (ours were 1 7/8" long) started at each end. Overhang about 1/4" on front and sides.

The center then filled in. We used 8 spaced about 1/16" to 1/8" apart. Even out the spacing as best you can. Again, don't be too perfect. Realism includes imperfection...

1x4 installed as batten strips. We leave it long so the end sticking out is like a handle. Later a sharp side cutter was used to cut off the handle part of the batten strips.

1x6 to fill in the ends of the porch roof. Our siding corners turned out so well we didn't put corner boards on ours, but the material is included in the kit if you do need them. Use your judgment when doing them and trim around things as needed. We always install the side one first so it's front side is flush with the siding of the adjoining wall. Then the other one placed so it covers the edge of the side one. Examples of this can be seen on other kit tips pages.

Use door plan as a guide. Remember to adjust your door size as needed so it fits your door opening. This is especially important if you plan in gluing it in a closed position.

2x2 divider done same as for the window. Bottom fill for the door can be seen in the photos below. It is done of 1x6 glued on from the back side. It can be done vertical or horizontal, your choice. We did ours vertical.

Front shot with door installed in a slightly open position. Ready at this point for final detail and finishing.

Different angle.

Sign made from scrap.

As seen on our layout.

Finish with exterior paints, as you would a real outdoor building. We recommend buildings be sealed inside and out after painting with a water proof clear sealer and 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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