In the last ‘Let’s Build Something!’ post I showed you how to make and repair grass bases for your Stablemate (1:32) scale models. Now it’s time to add some model horse fencing to that setup.
This post will cover how to make multiple kinds of wooden and faux-PVC fencing. I’ll have another post up in a week or so that will cover wire and arena fencing.
On a scale of one-to-‘Ack, my finger!’ this is on the easy end of things. It does take some practice to get everything to line up, but that’s more careful planning and less rocket science.
To assemble these fences, I am using Liquitex white gesso, a ruler, a mechanical pencil, sandpaper, a tiny bit of wax or plasticine clay, wire snips, paper clips, a hand drill, Loctite Super Glue Gel, Elmer’s wood glue, a x-acto handle with a Razor Saw Blade (52 teeth per inch) and a x-acto miter box.
If you don’t have any of these tools, the initial supplies will cost a bit, but after that fencing is pretty cheap to make. It’s the labor that’s the hard part!
I use basswood when I build the fences because balsa wood is both more fragile and more grainy. If you open the picture of the three fences at the top you can see the balsa wood rails on the leftmost fence are thicker and much more textured than the rest.
(Balsa wood is great for aged wood fencing though.)
Wooden board fencing is normally attached to the front of a round or square post using nails or screws. The post are four or six inches wide and the boards are 1 inch thick, six inch wide, and up to sixteen foot long.
The installation guides for most recommend the posts be set between eight and twelve feet apart and that the fence should be roughly five feet high. (The height of the fence depends more on how likely the horse is to go over it than anything else.)
Translating that to 1:32 scale is really easy, thanks to the internet. I just hopped over to this Scale Conversion Calculator and popped in the measurements.
Thus I need to build a build a fence that is 1.88 inches high, with posts 0.19 inches wide and more that 3 inches apart. The boards would need to be less than 6 inches long and 0.19 inches wide.
The main issue is that nothing is 0.19 inches wide, but at 0.1875 a 3/16th inch is pretty darned close. For these fences I used 1/4th inch boards instead of 3/16th, because that is what I had on hand (and I think they look a bit better).
The base I am using as my example today has a grassy surface of 3.25 inches. It had a fence on it previously that broke off at some point, leaving nice bare square patches to work with. The base itself is roughly 4 inches wide, so I’ll be using that as the length for my boards.
With a basic plan outlines and trusty new sawblade in hand I headed for the miter box. Measure twice, cut once!
Now that I have the fence pieces cut, it’s time to decide how to attach it to the base. Normally I would simply wood glue the finished fence to the base once it has been assembled, but I’m looking to make a removable fence this time (for fun!)
Sidenote: Cutting paperclips with normal scissors is likely to ruin the scissors.
So before I start gluing things together, I’m going to drill holes in the posts and in the base so I can insert a small piece of wire. This is pretty much the same method you’d use to pin Stablemate legs when they’ve broken (or need to be resculpted), which is where I got the idea. 🙂
As you can see, I’m not the best at drilling on center holes (yet!) but thankfully this method is pretty forgiving. The holes are much bigger than the wires, and the wax/clay method gives us plenty of wiggle room.
Once the hole are drilled in the posts cut down the paperclip so you have two bits of wire. Put a dollop of super glue on top of the hole and then push in the wire, twisting as you go to make sure wire is nicely coated.
For the base, you will want to put a little bit of plasticine clay into the hole. The clay will be down far enough that you can’t see it even when the posts are gone. It’s the clay that is going to hold the wire snug– and that will let us work with not-quite-straight wires.
First stick the posts in the holes and rotate them until you have the best alignment with the base and they are as straight up and down as you can get them.
Second, place the top row rail. For this fence I put it flush against the top, but you can set it further down if you wanted. I’m using just a little bit of carpenters glue here. You put it on the posts, wait a minute for it to get a little tacky and then attach the post.
Wood glue is better than superglue here because it takes a few minutes to set properly, which lets you move the boards if they need adjusting.
For this fence I’m doing four boards, so once the first one dried I placed once at the bottom to square it up. I didn’t want it flush with the ground, so I used another board to ad a little height. You can use a level to make sure each one is in place before you continue.
Spacing between the boards is purely cosmetic, there are lots of difference fence designs out there, so once you have the basics down you can get creative!
To finish it off all you need is the sandpaper and white gesso. Go slowly here and you’ll end up with a nice matte finish. You don’t want to use a high gloss finish here because it will make the fence look plastic… which brings up to the next section.
PVC fencing is normally attached in the middle of the post, where the pieces lock together. This is a bit harder than the first method since it requires that the boards be centered on the posts and that the boards that extend past the posts are separate pieces.
But finding ways to build things is half the fun! 🙂 (Even if I still haven’t figured out how to make the post caps yet… darnit.)
So to start with we use the same method to make the posts and the wires as before. But this time the measurements are a little more difficult, we’ll wait and measure the distance between the upright posts since it can vary depending on the wire placements. It’s a lot easier to measure from the posts instead of trying to fit the posts to pre-cut boards.
(I may or may not have learned this the hard way.)
The lucky thing is that the posts are roughly three boards wide, so I can use that to help center the boards on the post. Or I can after I’ve gotten to the point where I can lay the fence on it’s side.
The other change in fence assembly is that I’m starting from the bottom instead of the top. I’ve used 1/4 inch square dowels to set the distance between the ground and the bottom board and we’re going to use another board to make sure it’s in the middle of the posts correctly.
Once the bottom board is solidly in place, I carefully worked the fence loose and then flipped it on
I put the top board on second, to help make sure the whole thing was square and then put the middle board in place.
The end pieces were a bit harder, since I did them by eye instead of using a guide some of them came out a little crooked. Overall I think it came out okay for a first try.
The main issue I ended up with on this Beta-Fence was that I didn’t sand all of the pieces before I assembled them.
Painting before assembly is bad because the wood glue won’t adhere, but not sanding was just me getting too excited about the project to wait. (Darnit!)
So the PVC still needs several more rounds of sanding, and gloss, but you in spots you can see how the smooth gloss finish will look like plastic.
And That’s All She Wrote… (for now)
So that’s how I build these two fences! As you can see they both need some more work to sand off some of the problem areas– I’ll come back and update this photo in a few days, I just wanted to get this done and posted today.
Using those two techniques you can actually build a wide range of fencing. The miter box makes cutting 45 degree angles a breeze and I’ve got plans in the works to do more elaborate fences, but using the techniques outlined here. There are a bunch of other fence styles left that I also need to cover, but that’s for another blog post…
Want to buy instead of build? Check out my store!
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