Large Scale Central


I have been in this hobby for just over two years now. I am big into using whats around the house. It is hard to believe how much I have learned and different ways to use common products for detailing or building things. A lot of this stuff is either learned from someone else or something you might have had around the shop. It would be good to have a list and maybe put into the Articles sections a list of common materials around the house or hardware store that can be used for modeling. That way next time someone is looking for a way to make or detail something without having to spend a lot they can use this list. Here is a list of things I have learned from others or myself

  • Boot lace for a hose
  • Sew on snaps for an on/off knob
  • Thread reel for a hose or cable reel
  • Soda can, film canister for a steam donkey
  • Large coffee can for a water tower
  • Coffee stir sticks for siding etc…
  • Masking tape for a tar roof
  • Using common spray paints for weathering etc… (like the krylon rudy brown and camo colors)
  • Bottle caps from beer/soda and using for signs on buildings etc…
  • Using any basic flatcar to build anything one can imagine.
  • Plastic headed push pin for a hose nozzle

More will come to mind but im sure those of you in the hobby much longer will have other great ideas please share.

Great idea Shawn! When we are at a hardware or craft type store we will have this list in our mind and can pick up some of these things cheaply for future projects. I know with me just starting in this hobby it would be great to have a stash of some of these things on hand.

Plastic “Elect me!” signs are made of corrugated plastic. Great for buildings.

For Sale signs at the hardware store are thick styrene.

Sandpaper for building roof texture

They don’t even mind you stealing them if you wait till after the election :wink:

Realtor “for Sale” signs are corrugated plastic, too.

Once Bart (King of Scrounge) finds this thread, it’ll really ramp up.

May I add a few of my econo-building materials?

BB’s for door knobs.
Desiccant canisters (from pill bottles) for small kegs (nail kegs, powder kegs).
Desiccant pouches as flour sacks.
Future floor polish for gauge glass
#2d nails or furniture tacks with the head bent up in a U shape for queen posts.
Soda bottle caps for mixing paint, or epoxy, dispensing glue from a larger bottle.
The mail-in postcards from magazines as a painters palette

Eee Gads

Great ideas on free/cheap stuff, thanks…

I use cough bottle plastic cups to mix paint.
I save the plastic sprues from parts and use the pieces for pipes/piping around and about buildings.
And then the wood sprues, I don’t know what they are called?, also from the wood kits I have bought. I use the pieces to brace the insides of buildings.
Map colored tacks for door knobs.

And “the road goes on forever” --------

Cheers TOF where else? Lost Wages

These are great ideas… Keep adding more…

Noel Wilson said:
These are great ideas… Keep adding more…

UH OH!! Now you have the guru a thinkin and the wheels and gears in his head are a turning!! Hah LOL!! Regal


Beads for door knobs.
Elastic part of nylon socks for curtains
clear plastic dividers for window glass
Probably a few more I can’t think of at the moment.
Mik is good at this.

plastic report covers for window shades
nylons for screen

Trim escutcheons can be made for round windows like on E and F units with discarded wedding bands from guys that spend too much time in the workshop.

I use the braches from my trees I have to trim as logs on the railroad.
I’m going to use old phone wire (take the cove off the 4 wire in sides) and use it as power lines
cut up a pallet that some of my block came on and used it as cribbing on the rail road.
The bast…A stone mason lets me pick thought his junk pile. That is were I got all of my real stone for the rail road.

don’t forget the everyday thrash. just found some lighters, which offer nice reflectors for headlights or streetlanterns.


…and before throwing out the old BetaMax tape player, or the alarm clock (for those of us who have retired) scrounge out the switches and connectors.

And another thing, If you can buy from a lumber yard versus a hobby shop for wood supplies
Eg. 1’ x 2’ 1/8" Baltic Birch plywood from hobby shop. About $6.00.
5’ x 5’ 1/8" Baltic Birch plywood from lumber yard. About $18.00.

P.S. Will have enough for many projects and if ya screw a few cuts, not such a big deal.

Save the finials and other brass fittings off old outdoor light fixtures. Use them for capitals on civic buildings .

Single serving diced fruits for speaker enclosures . . ditto yogurt cups and pill bottles.

I’ve seen the parts from a cheapo cigarette lighter used to make small winches and other such items.

Fancy buttons can be used for all sorts of things… The transparent or translucent type can be made into lamps. Some of the metal kind can represent a lamp base or decorative fixture. There are plastic buttons that don’t look like buttons – they’re animals or teddy bears or sporting goods, etc – just about anything you can think of. These can be used for 3-dimensional signs on buildings.