What kind of base should I use for my diorama?

Stéphan

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Jan 23, 2022
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75
Hi everyone!

I would like to know what kind of base I should use to create a diorama and add some buildings? I have styrofoam but it's about 2,5 cm (one inch) thick so not very practical to cut. My goal is to glue each of my different model railroad buildings on it and add details like grasses, dirt ... Eventually, when my model railroad layout bench will be made, I will just have to add those blocks of buildings and add some tracks and scenery around it.

Thanks for your help!
 

Marktastrophe

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Nov 19, 2021
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In the past I have used just construction foam, but gluing the construction foam onto some plywood or plastic boards so you can add furniture feet and have clearance for wiring underneath if you need it.
Liquid nails holds foam to just about anything.
Small screws from the bottom of the board hold pieces on well.

I've also seen people get great results using corkboard as Diorama bases. That'll probably be the next thing I try for a scratch built one.
 

Marktastrophe

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Sorry for the delay but when clicking your link it says I don't have access.
Page content here:


"Foam board or Foam core board is a strong and lightweight material that is easily cut with a sharp craft knife or picture framing mat cutter.

It is commonly used for the mounting of prints and photographs and as backing in picture frames.

Foamboard is easily formed into shapes that can be used for interior design and architectural models.

Foam board usually consists of three layers, an inner layer of polystyrene or polyurethane foam that is clad with an outer facing on each side of either a white clay coated paper, cotton archival paper or common brown Kraft paper.

For picture framing use we recommend the acid-free alpha cellulose clad boards as they have a longer lifespan and do not leach acids into the artworks. In high end conservation framing a further barrier of cotton rag boards or alpha-cellulose boards should be placed between the foam board and the original artwork. For more details on conservation framing and the Endurart Process please download a free PDF brochure here.

Since 1957 foam core board was made in 1/8 inch (3 mm) and 3/16 inch (5 mm) thicknesses by Monsanto under the trade name of Fome-Core®

It has now become a popular backing in picture framing, with archival-quality variants now available from several manufacturers.

Thicknesses from 3mm to 10mm are commonly available and a 20mm version is available for construction of large displays and art mounting applications.

There are other foam cored materials produced under various brand names that have a cladding of solid styrene or other rigid plastic coating. These are useful for signage and for situations where rigidity is required. Normally these boards are cut using a panel saw.

Some specialised boards are made with aluminium facing to allow mounting of high gloss photographic prints and some are made with fire-retardants for use in museum situations.

Clay-coated Foamcore does not accept certain types of paint and some glues, such as superglue is not suitable for bonding. Solvents used in some paints and glues can dissolve the foam centre causing weakness and the breakdown of the structural integrity of the foamboard.

Water-based glues can warp the fibers in the outer layers upon drying causing warping so adhering a layer to the reverse side can minimise this issue. Best results are typically obtained from using double sided adhesive sheets or use our pre-coated self-adhesive foamboard if you wish to "drymount" your prints and photographs.

Self-adhesive foam boards can be unforgiving when it comes to mounting some items. If you want to watch a simple video on "How to mount a photo using foamboard" please watch it here.

After you have mounted your photograph or print onto self-adhesive foamboard you should allow some curing time where you keep the mounted work flat to ensure it does not warp before you assemble the image in a picture frame.

For temporary mounting applications use plain foam board and then apply re-positionable spray adhesive to one of the surfaces, either the back of the image or the face of the board.

For more information on Foamcore here is a link to the Wikipedia article on Foamcore

Architectural Models: Construction Techniques, 2nd Edition"
 

Jim62

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Oct 26, 2020
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343
You just need a good hot wire cutter for your foam. Not a hand held unless you have the steadiest hands in the world. Get one that has a base. I have one of these that works good, you can do some good research for your needs on youtube.
 

the Baron

Ich bin ja, Herr, in Deiner Macht
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Let's clarify, too-foamboard, or foam insultation, but not styrofoam. Different products.

Here's a great blog page that shows some of modeler Emanuel Noaillier's process to make buildings from foamboard:


He peels the paper from one side, to work with the material. I have not yet tried this, but I have some thin foamboard and will try it on a diorama project I have in the works.

As far as insulation goes, I use scraps of it for groundwork. A hot knife is a good idea; a regular knife, or a saw, can cut it, but it makes a lot of dust. I have a soldering iron, and I found knife tips that fit it, so I can use that as a hot knife to cut and carve the foam.

I also use wood putty (Elmer's) to coat the foam. I like wood putty because I can get different textures, from using it for groundwork, to making surfaces like concrete, stucco, mud walls, and so on. It can be tinted, for groundwork for example, with acrylics. Or you can paint it, when it dries. It can be thinned with water, to various consistencies.

Here is a dio base I made a few years back, with foam as the core for the base, and the building, and coated with wood putty:

Finished-1.jpg
Finished-2.jpg

You can see some different finishes here-concrete, stucco, dry bare earth.

I stuck the wall piece to the base with toothpicks and white glue, and the whole thing to the wooden plinth with white glue.

Hope that helps!
Best regards,
Brad
 

Stéphan

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Jan 23, 2022
Messages
75
I have called a few places near where I live and I wasn't able to find a store who sells foamboard.

Is this something we find easily in hardware store? What is it used for Normally? How thick should I buy foamboard for creating dioramas? We speak french where I live. Maybe it's under another name.
 

the Baron

Ich bin ja, Herr, in Deiner Macht
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I have called a few places near where I live and I wasn't able to find a store who sells foamboard.

Is this something we find easily in hardware store? What is it used for Normally? How thick should I buy foamboard for creating dioramas? We speak french where I live. Maybe it's under another name.
It could be foam insulation, and yes, you might find it in a hardware store, especially a larger one. Here in the US, we have two hardware store chains, more formally referred to as "home centers", or "building centers". They sell pretty much anyone needs to do most kinds of work on a house, both in terms of tools and materials.
I don't think I mentioned this before, in this thread, but another source is construction sites. I don't mean scavenging at a building site, but if there are any building sites near you, walk past and see if they have any scraps of foam insulation. If they do, find the foreman or supervisor, tell him you're a modeler and you use foam for groundwork, and ask him if you may have some. I have found consistently that they're always happy to let me take some.
 

iandrewmartin

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Jan 19, 2013
Messages
96
I have called a few places near where I live and I wasn't able to find a store who sells foamboard.

Is this something we find easily in hardware store? What is it used for Normally? How thick should I buy foamboard for creating dioramas? We speak french where I live. Maybe it's under another name.
It depends on what you are looking for:
Fome-Cor uses outer faces (of different materials) and a polystyrene core (I've built large scale, complex 3D, micro layouts with it for photo dioramas)
XPS (Expanded Polystyrene) board is another option. You'll need to do a local search for suppliers, this is what many modellers build layouts on and use for land forms.

Hope this adds to your knowledge.
 

Stéphan

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Jan 23, 2022
Messages
75
Hi everyone. Someone told me that he use 2mm plasticard for basing his models. Do you know where to find 2mm plasticards?
 

Marktastrophe

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Nov 19, 2021
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This is the stuff I am partial to:
Insulation Board
In the US you can buy it in thicker and larger sheets at a home improvement store (unsure about other countries). It's dense and can be carved. To seal it up before painting I just brush or roll on some home latex paint or primer, whatever I have left over from painting rooms.
Scraps also work really well for stabbing alligator clips into.
 

the Baron

Ich bin ja, Herr, in Deiner Macht
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Hi everyone. Someone told me that he use 2mm plasticard for basing his models. Do you know where to find 2mm plasticards?
Two big brands are Evergreen and Plastruct. You can find it at most bricks-and-mortar hobby shops, including model railroad shops.

As far as online sources go, bypass Amazon and go right to the source. You can buy direct from Evergreen via its website, https://evergreenscalemodels.com/

and from Plastruct via its website, https://plastruct.com/ Plastruct also makes liquid styrene cement, in two varieties, Weldene and Bondene.

There is another brand, more known to model railroaders, I think: K&S. I'm not sure if they sell retail, though. I know that you can buy their product from online and bricks-and-mortar retaliers.


Also, MegaHobby carries a good supply of styrene sheet and shape stock:

Finally, for some gauges of styrene sheet, try your local hardware store, and look at yard signs-"For Sale", "For Rent", "Keep Off the Grass", etc. Many such signs are printed on styrene stock, and are cheaper by the sheet than the materials made for hobbyists. If the surface will be exposed, you might have to sand the color off, but for interior work or general utility work, it's just as good as product from the hobby companies.

Hope that helps!
 

urumomo

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Mar 18, 2013
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If you order direct from Evergreen you're paying thru the nose , and then add to that shipping .
I bought four 12X24 inch , 2mm sheets , sent to my house , for about what Evergreen charges for a single sheet not including shipping .

Personally , I use plywood and solid sawn lumber for bases .
But being in construction , I have tons of material .

ABS sheets can be solvent welded too , so that will be an option . It's more rigid on average compared to the equivalent thickness in polystyrene .
 

the Baron

Ich bin ja, Herr, in Deiner Macht
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...Personally , I use plywood and solid sawn lumber for bases .
But being in construction , I have tons of material ...
You probably have all kinds of scraps of foam insulation stock at hand. You could package them and sell them. :D
 

Marktastrophe

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Nov 19, 2021
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I love insulation board for so many projects. I bought a bundle of boards a handful of years ago and haven't made it through them yet.
I even used one to makeshift a window buffer for my spray hood vent outlet.
PXL_20220304_151523998.jpg

I think I originally picked them up to carve into headstones for Halloween, which is a project I'm glad I never finished because I use them for almost everything else, lol.
 
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