Scratch building HO scale structures

Mike’s been in touch – he’s been busy scratch building HO scale structures:

“Good day Alastair:

Here are some HO scale buildings I scratch built.

I build furniture for a hobby and save every scrap of wood to use for other projects. I cut most of my “lumber” on my table saw. I cut my shingles from 1/64 or 1/32 plywood. My goal is to purchase the bare minimum to complete a project.

I buy windows from Grayline but make most of my doors. I start with a photo and render something that captures the feeling of the building. Hope you enjoy seeing these.

Clermont, FL. USA”

HO scenery

Scratch building HO scale structures

Scratch building HO scale structures

Scratch building HO scale structures

HO scale buildings

HO scale scenery

Scratch building HO scale structures:

Scratch building HO scale structures

HO scale scenery

HO scale buildings

model railroad buildings

model railroad buidlings

model railroad buildings

Scratch building HO scale structures

A huge thanks to Mike for sharing – scratch building HO scale structures is something that comes up on the blog a lot.

I thought Mike’s buildings were packed with character!

There are so many scratch building posts on the blog now, and each of them have display a new way of making a building or weathering.

Take Richard for example. Not only is his scratch building a joy to look at, it’s N scale – how he can make them without going blind is beyond me:

N scale scratch built model

And it never fails to make me smile when I see what people have used.

Barry made a power station from card stock, and gave it that solid look by using wooden blocks:

Scratch built power station.

Anyhow, I hope the posts get the creative side of your mind ticking, becauase if you are scratch building HO scale structures, you’ll need it. Or any scale come to that.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

41 Responses to Scratch building HO scale structures

  1. NJ Mark says:

    Mike, I hope you have a layout in which to incorporate those fantastic buildings. The detail is incredible. Thanks for sharing. Cheers! NJ Mark

  2. Robert Brady says:

    Mike great work,patients is a to see the layout they’re going in.

  3. Robert Brady says:

    Mike What and where is grayline,I’m in Florida too. What do they deal in?

  4. Eric Rayner says:

    Mike great work on your buildings, especially like the water mill.

    Dave, you could try using the Woodland bushes for your foliage, much lighter and easy to manage when making trees, I use the same armatures and then lather in UHU as it sets quicker and grabs the bushes fast. Look forward to seeing it all running.

    Eric (Leeds).

  5. george from Long Island says:


    Awesome. Your artistic talents are amazing, Please keep this up and do video how you progress on future work. Your artwork must be shared by us wanna bees

  6. Brian says:

    Incredible scratch-build buildings Mike – Excellent Work.

  7. Don Jennings says:

    I hope you are a member of the NMRA in Claremont, Florida.
    You could enter those building to earn a certificate.
    go for it.
    donjj cary, NC

  8. Don Jennings says:

    I mis spelled your town CHermont.

  9. paul vogel says:

    Mike…….Your buildings are amazingly real looking. Wonderful detail. You must be a professional artist. Thanks for sharing. Paul Ohio USA

  10. Brad says:

    I admit I know little about wiring,but have a question. When you have many multiple buildings lighted where do you gather them all and what do they tie into to power them? I mean say I have 50 buildings,and assuming 100 wires.I’m thinking you run 1 main wire underneath and tie them into that.But how do you how how much power to provide.I know nothing about amps or circuitry,Do you run these off a train transformer or is there another power source with a switchboard?Thanks

  11. Patrick Talley says:

    Mike; The new Lake County Model Railroad Club would love to feature your work on some of our layouts. Please contact me through Alistair…

  12. Hey Mike, Great job of building and detail! I especially love the Hawkeye sign on the side of your barn! Go Iowa!

  13. Bob virnig says:

    Mike; I’m in St Cloud, Fl. I would enjoy showing you my scratch structures someday. My train layout was on the national convention tour last year.

  14. John F Down says:

    Mike, well done! Super realism!

  15. Dan Hulitt says:

    To Mike:
    As a woodworker myself, I can appreciate the effort in your wonderful buildings and scenes. Top notch to be sure, beautifully done.

    To Dave, have yet to finish the latest of many enjoyable vids, but wondered about the use of the stiff brush to clean your recycled rails. Unless the brush is softer than the rails, its use might scratch the rails leading to attracting dirt and impacting conductivity and adhesion. You probably have that covered, but was a question that came to mind.

    Thanks all.

    MN Dan

  16. Dale Popula says:

    Dave, I really like the Burlington building and water tower. I would love to have something like that. Your work is beautiful.

  17. Robert says:

    Beautiful work! Better than some kits I’ve seen. Good to see people reuse, re-purpose and recycle!
    In the railroad hobby the three R’s really apply
    Rob, NJ/US

  18. Michael Ilkenhons says:

    Thank you all for such kind remarks. The buildings that Alastair posted are ones I built for my cousin’s layout. I was born in Iowa and modeled that barn after my grandfathers’s. The water mill was from a photo of a nitesble mill in Nebraska I believe. Truthfully I consider myself an armature at this. I have seen some amazing work by professional model builders. I really enjoy “crafting” my buildings. There are so many old buildings to model. I have three now for my layout which is just started. A very small one by comparison to some I have seen posted on Alastair’s site.

  19. More great work by talented people…
    I especially appreciate Dave’s updates!
    The rebuilt work seems to have a better “track to scenery” ratio for my taste…More realistic scenes.

  20. Robert Brady says:

    Mike Where’s Grayline I make models also but in the modern era . I need windows and doors and especially garage doors Is there a web site?
    I don’t see any harm in writing in on this site this info.
    or PM me on face book,robert brady

  21. Robert Brady says:

    Dave if u must make ur own trees use Gorilla glue adhesive !

  22. Also want info on Grayline. Can’t seem to find it online. Thanks

  23. Thank you for comments re my layout ..Dave`s model railway , the wire brush scratching the rails is something I had not thought of , so maybe I had better use a softer brush in the future , dirt being attracted to the rails is something we get enough of …as for how many lights can be added ..if you are using LED`s from one 12 volts sauce , (I have multiple Transformers ) you should be able to add up to about 50 or more , they use very little juice , I now use all LED`s and its not a problem , as the old Grain of trice or grain of wheat bulbs would only take about 7 , and would get very hot , so now I use resistors for street lights and have them all running at 12v ..I will try and cover this subject more next time ..Dangerous Dave

  24. Terry OSullivan says:

    Could you tell us a little more about the German LED strip lighting terminal connectors please? Are they available in the UK?

  25. I shall show the connectors in to nights video ..and where to buy …Dangerous Dave

  26. RogerBurcombe says:

    Dangerous dave showed some coach lighting complete with battery but I did not note the name of the supplier. Would it be possible to contact him to get the name of the firm th a t supplies these add ons. Your site is excellent for the model railwayer, keep it up. Roger Burcombe (aus Germany)

  27. These are awesome. Sure wish that I had the time and the talent.

  28. Ron Nelson says:

    Mike and Dave really enjoyed seeing your layouts. Sure is nice to have one that far along. Ron from sunny Flordia

  29. Stephen E Fetzer says:

    This reminded again about the flexibility and genius of modular building.

  30. Michael Scott Bruce says:

    Stunning buildings!!! Keep sending in photos of your new ones.

  31. Alabama Mike says:

    Mike, you have an amazing talent for your scratch building projects. Such beautiful and detailed work. Keep on sending them for us to se.e

  32. Steve says:

    Great work Mike, I envy you your skill, being a bit of a “bodger” myself!

    Many comments today refer to another posting by Dave, but Mike’s was the only one I saw in today’s post! This seems to happen quite often – is it just me, or does anyone else have the same thing happen?

  33. Joe Kincaid says:

    My reply was much more detailed than this, but seemingly was cut off by the electronic gremlins. Mike I bow to your tremendous level of skill, patience, attention to detail, and a finished product that represents our love for “toy trains.” This is hardly the work of someone who doesn’t care. It is the work of genius, and belongs in the Smithsonian as representative of a bygone era in miniature. I wish you would build a few for sale. I’m your first customer.

    Joe, from the land of fruit and nuts out there on the left coast.

  34. Miraak says:

    Mike, you are a proven fantastic architect, but – – – -where are the trains?????

  35. Ramsey Arnold says:

    Beautiful scratch builds‼️
    Your rustic Water Tank is just what I
    need for my Durango and Silverton N.G.R.R (Colorado Rockies) I’m doing
    in N scale.
    Thanks, so much for your inspiration.
    Montrose, CO 🇺🇸

  36. Bob Burke says:

    I’m with Steve on not being able to see Dave’s contribution, and like him I often have this problem of Dave’s video not showing up at all. Very frustrating. Thought maybe it was just me, but obviously not. Any suggestions would be welcomed.
    In awe of what Mike has done. I think stunning is a very appropriate description, as it so often is on this site. Thanks for your work, Al. Greetings to all from a wet and windy summer in northern New Zealand.

  37. John Frye says:

    Very good modeling. I love that each model conveys that it was and is “lived in” which is the best a model can convey.
    I use Grey Line and Tichy Train Group for my windows, ladders, stairs, doors, and grates.
    Again, great job! Please send more!
    John from Baltimore

  38. Darrel says:

    Working in HO you would would probably get away using Ferrero Roche (or similar) boxes for glazing they are leftover byproduct or phone screen protecters ( specially if you find them smashed), (just watch yer fingers).
    I was working in N gauge, and considered broken screen protector for late 1980’s urban degradation. But nothing i made came close to yours and I couldn’t find very much in the way of population or horse and carriage models to do a mid to late 1800 ‘s London layout any justice, ho hum.
    Anyways, keep up the fantastic work and look forward to you being featured on this awesome site again soon.

  39. Thomas Meleck says:

    Fantastic work. Your models exhibit both scale realism and artistic license. That’s a difficult task to achieve.Now all you need is a layout.- Thank you.

  40. Bill Allen says:

    A tip for Brad…I use LED Power Distribution boards from Simple to install, simply power the board with 12 volts DC and plug in your LED’s. Voltage output can be either Direct (which is the voltage supplied to the board) or 3 VDC. There is also a built-in dimmer. David Lu is the owner of Wehonest and their customer service is impeccable!

  41. Bill Holt says:

    Amazing skill and workmanship, GOOD JOB

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *