Roger’s corrugated iron hut

“Hello Al,

I expect you’ve noticed a recurring theme in my mails. I’m not a virtuoso scratch-builder and I admire those who are. Despite my Scrooge-like tendencies I would pay plenty for their work and enjoy the knowledge that I have a little of their genius on my layout. So everything I make from scratch has be simple to construct, look correct to scale and blend well with proprietary brands. In a nutshell – if I can do it, so can everyone! And, most importantly, I use the products of a wasteful society – unnecessary plastic packaging, broken plastic items and goods which by their nature are destined for disposal.

This is a rarer find. You’ll discover this thin corrugated plastic in the interior packaging of fancy tins and boxes of biscuits (that’s ‘cookies’, all you railroaders!) – also some large packs of sweets (or ‘candy!’) – but only in some of them. Keep an eagle eye open at Christmas when such things are about. All the pieces illustrated were found in these. They’re in perfect OO scale – know this because I matched them up with a corrugated iron roof on a plastic kit. The O-gaugers are blessed on this one because wide ridged corrugated plastic crops up far more often than in OO scale. You’ll find plenty of card and paper equivalents (often separating layers of biscuits and sweets in boxes) which will match well with card built and print-out kits – like the excellent ones offered on this site.

The construction of these stores and out-houses is simple – as is the case in real life. So the pictures suffice to show it. This is an ideal first scratch build for those who have never attempted one because it can’t really go wrong. Here are a few tips if you would like them : –

– When held upright, the length of a standard match (with the business end cut off) is exactly the height of a single storey building in OO scale. Cut the tops at a slight angle to accommodate the sloping roof.

– After painting, wipe across a thin solution of matt black applied with a little chunk of sponge. This will accentuate the ‘ridged’ effect, add realism and make it look dirty. Wipe off quickly with a dry bit of sponge if you over-do it.

– Other uses? Great for farm buildings, out-houses and barns. Also line-side huts – to cover electric points mechanisms maybe? Outside toilets! Factory buildings. Coal yards and factory yards. Garden and allotment huts. Nissen huts. Domestic garages.

– The wood in the log-store is short lengths of wicker – split – like the real thing – and glued together in piles.

– The contents of the junk-store? All sorts of rubbish – broken ball points, odd bits of plastic, coils of fuse wire – any old thing, separately painted and glued in place. The wooden planks are little strips of my old enemy – the moulded plastic sheeting used to package chilled food and suchlike (pictured). The bases for the models are also made with this. A gift to modelling.

– The little office? Same construction. But windows and doors cut out to scale – doors and sign made of the old enemy again – glazed with its infamous cousin, the clear plastic packaging which once contained food. The doors and windows glued internally.

– Used superglue. Plastic cement is fussy about the plastic it bonds. Actually – I don’t care for it much at all.

– Not that it matters but the dimensions of the illustrated models are – if your interested: –

LOG STORE – Height 3.5 cm (at rear)
Length 4 cm
Depth 2.5 cm
OFFICE – Height 3.5 cm (at rear)
Length 5 cm
Depth 3 cm

– So all the buildings in the final picture were produced for not a penny (or cent!). Of course, you don’t have to wait until you come across some corrugated plastic. You can use the old enemy.

– And if, when you’ve finished, it all looks a bit rickety. GREAT!

Regards to all.


A big thank you to Roger. I loved it!

Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Don’t forget the ‘ebay cheat’ sheet. All the comments on it make it worthwhile.

And if you want to get your hands dirty and get going with the Beginner’s Guide, it’s here.



45 Responses to Roger’s corrugated iron hut

  1. Absolutely smashing idea and looks so realistic. This would really enhance any goods yard or otherwise.
    Only trouble is – do you have any tips on how to lose the waistline once Ive muched all the biscuits :)

  2. great…

  3. Great work and cost saving Roger , well done , now where is that biscuit box with the corrugated paper

  4. Beautiful Job! Problem is, now I will start saving all that stuff! Thanks for the tips.

  5. Another great help

  6. Lovely in 00 but what about us poor N gauger’s

  7. Dear Al and sons and wife and animals, thank you for all the tips some ov which I thought were too obvious to send you as being a model railroader for well since five years of age haha am now 63 going on 64and still see stuff that is to be thrown out as useful oldrechargeable batteries come already in matt silver colourand do not leak as I am assured by manufacturer, are great for oxy-acetalene carriers on a small flat oo guage bar a couple of cats whiskers and were seen on midland railway harnessed in a pyamid of five in centre offlat with smaller(trippleAbatteries now)at each end to act as fire extinguishers.Ta again for tips I cud go on forages now in my 4th childhood re model railways but skint as I only have a small pension coz I used to live in Hobart, Tasmaina for awhile and now have my oap deducted because I went out on the £10 scheme in 1966 for a few years.Keeps me sane recycling all the stuff but sendsmy other half dotty as shestill considers it rubbish cest-la-vie and thanks againand look forward to your nxt tips from the world wide community of MRE,cheersChris.

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  9. Excellent idea Roger, TNX!

  10. A smashing great idea, just show’s what you can do when you open your eyes, never mind the biscuits, they’ll be taken care of later,

  11. EXcellent idea tnx

  12. This is great stuff. Thanx fo sharing.

  13. Looks neat Roger! how about showing a photo of it on your layout.

    Corrugated card also can be used as corrugated iron.

  14. Wow, what a great idear this is, then to take it to the next level by putting together all the materials one needed, too build this amaysing Hut and it’s couple of Sheds. With a bit more time and materials one could even build an Outhouse also, something that would make the set, truely complete.


  15. Iloved it, i will use this as a linemans Shed, these are often found in all parts of England on most railaway depos.


  16. Neat idea!

    I’m a N gauger and I’m always looking at packaging and odd stuf in DIY stores, etc.

    Anything like this from Roger that is to scale for N gauge would be great.

  17. well done roger ,some people are so cleaver.

  18. Thanks again all – for the lovely comments. Get a lot of enquiries about N gauge – and some more here. As you probably gathered, my layout is OO – but I will do some experiments. I have an N gauge loco and some coaches which I bought by mistake – so I’ll have a crack at an engine shed. To be honest, I think that guys who model in N deserve medals the size of frying pans! Pretty damn small – and I can see why they have problems.

    With regard to my layout, I view it like my books and plays. Folks can see it when it’s finished! But I really enjoy watching other contributors’ progress with theirs.

    Best to everyone.


  19. You have convinced me to have a bash at long last!
    I model in O gauge (as well as TT) and have discovered a terrific device from a local chain store, Michael’s. To make corrugated iron roofing, etc, you can buy a paint tube squeezer made from v hard plastic. Then cut the thickest aluminum pie plates, etc you can find – anything that is flat – as well as ‘tin-foil’ used in cooking. The latter is hard to find these days, it’s become so thin over the years.
    As you show, not only roofing but sides, fences, etc can all be made from corrugated iron ‘sheets’.
    I have been collecting what I call ‘raw materials’ for YEARS, and have the space to hoard them. Now’s the time to get cracking!
    Thanks for the stimulus – just what was needed.
    [I am somewhat older than 65 and I’m going to miss the boat if I don’t start soon – enough already!]

  20. just great i love them. In a big N guage Layout put them to the back with a few large trees keep them coming Roger.


  22. Hi everyone. Great buildings and great tips.
    I’ve been scratch building for a while now and love seeing everyones efforts and getting the tips. What I’m more interested in is the contents of the buildings. They look so realistic. You can build the best scale models but they have to have those little extras that lift them to the next level. Everyone knows railways can be messy, untidy places with piles of ‘stuff’ all over. They place buildings in the railway environment – give them a purpose and a reason for being there, rather than just a building put down for the sake of it. Great effort and just shows what you can do with a bit of thought. Best tip of all – keep you eyes open for odd shapes of packaging and think about those shape and what they can be used for.

    King regards


  23. I am in the process of developing a 4′ x 8′ N Guage layout that includes a European style passenger train station (i.e.,Zurich, Venice) where the train platforms are under 1 roof. As you enter the train station there is ticketing and concessions. Any thoughts, ideas as to where I can look for modelling examples?

    Thanks — Bill Glover

  24. Gret ideas !! Thanks!!

  25. I love the things that can built out of the stuff you would normally throw away.

  26. Great idea Roger. I have made a ploughed field from a corrugated cardboard box. I stripped the surface off one side to reveal the ridges, then was not too fussy about getting the glued bits off. This left a good rough texture once painted. As I have never modelled anything in my life before I was really pleased with the outcome.

  27. (Dutch) crispbakes are wrapped in a bigger sheets, but finer than cardboard; just for bigger buildings or O scale

  28. Roger, I think that what you have done with what’s available, is excellent as well as a cost saver. You also get to have a snack while building your excellent models.
    Keep these ideas comming. Brian

  29. Very impressive and a nudge to start constructing before the wife kills me if I don’t start building with what I have “saved for later use”. Good clear tips. Thanks Roger

  30. thanks roger as a new member to this hobby or addiction i love the fact that when shopping with her indoors i look more at packing rather than contents and she thinks im fussy about food as i said a big thank s to all who share tips

  31. How that’s really cool, i never thought of that.
    Very good idea.
    Keep doing, and sending pic.
    Hope to see more of your collections of your trains station.

  32. Kool !!!!!!!

  33. I try this 10 time

  34. I have been watching all the things that come up about model railroading for the past year or so. One thing I noticed , on all block control towers in any layout for any size HO and larger, no one ever shows the control rods and lines from the tower to the switches, cross overs, derails, diamonds or signals. This would make it look more real. From 1955 to 1999 , I worked for the NKP ,from Cleveland Ohio to Chicago as Station Agent Tower Opr. Telegrapher ,UPRR LA to Salt Lake City as Freight & Ticket Agent , and AMTRAK from LA to Seattle, Chicago and Miami as a EIC OB (in charge of Dinner and Lounge cars On Board train. Had a great time an retired in 2000 but wish I was back on board many times. Over the years have had put together 3 layouts of HO. Have not done anything after retirement. There is so many things that have changed in the industry, that looks like it is much more easy now than it was. So keep up all the good advise to all.

    later Clark

  35. Does anybody have any good tips for Z scale? Love to hear from you, as I am the only guy doing Z in Thailand.
    Regards Garry

  36. Brilliant job mate

    Amazing what people can build from the most simplest of things

  37. Hi . I used this scale corrugated biscuit tin paper on N scale. If you paint it silver it looks like the IBR sheeting you find on industrial buildings. Running a comb over tinfoil works for N gge too. D/

  38. I have often thought of using the same material from cookie boxes, etc. Works great but not to be used outside for a garden railway. You can use thin aluminum sheets and a device available at craft stores to corrugate the aluminum for outside use.
    Great tips and I enjoy reading them all.

  39. For the. N. scale modelers. Keep. an eye out. for the boxed candy, and use the thin paper cups the candy sits in. Most times they are a corrigated shape. TO USE: most are either white, brown, or silver, just choose acordingly. If you must paint the paper, to reremble steel or iron use thin washes of silver with a bit of black and a touch of grey.Then cut up to desired size and shape. As for the candy, give away, to family or friends and just smile at their waistlines. You will know U got the best of the deal, so enjoy modeling and running trains, but just smile an keep watching their waist and things to be repourposed for our hobby. Michael C.

  40. what is the easiest method to cut or slice Styrofoam?

  41. Roger, best wishes on an Incredible piece of work ! Looks authentic, looks true to scale and You have an incredible knack to see something positive in the things most of us would throw away. Great Job.. I’m off to start some projects using your ideas.

  42. I gave this article as evidence of the value of my “collection” of “junk” and “trash”.
    I have caught her recently pondering plastic dividers from a cookie package.

    Get the word out about this. This is good, albeit small scale recycling, and cost cutting materials for the pike.


  43. Al…

    How clever Roger is…. Amazing… and what I really enjoy is it is created out of cookie box….. so wonderfully fun and extremely creative.
    Thanks for sharing.


  44. What is the easiest way to cut or slice Styrofoam???

    Good question – many answers. I like using a utility knife, the kind where you snap off the end so you have a fresh blade. Using a new blade (none snapped off), I extend the blade long enough to slice through the thickness of the Styrofoam, then cut several times, a little deeper each time. For thicker pieces (an inch or so), I cut at least half way through, then bend the Styrofoam – it almost always breaks off with a clean line.

    A hacksaw blade works really well. However, it makes tiny foam “sawdust” which is a bit messy. A utility knife is good for straight cuts. Being thinner, the hacksaw blade can cut curved lines.

    I bought an electric foam cutting knife. Works fairly well, leaves no “sawdust”, but is really slow. That is my least favorite method.

    Still in training,
    Carl in Kansas

  45. Very fantastic use of junk you scrounged the same way I do here in the states !
    I love the wood storage , office and line storage building !
    It looks like some I have seen in real full scale use along the R.R in our back door ,
    keep up the great creative works Roger !

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