Like others reporting, I have been building wood (and wood and paper) railroad models since I was a child, and as we speak, I have finished three more. Most in later years have been passenger cars, but there have been a number of freight as well. It is a very satisfying traditional medium to work with, not the least of which because it can be challenging at times. Some years ago on this list was a thread of disdain for wood as incapable of being a part of RPM, which for many was a rallying cry for “We’ ll show you!”, and….we certainly made a try. Very recently I finished/rebuilt an HO 1939 (kit production date) Comet PLUTO WATER wood and paper model kit. For some weeks. it honorably served amongst its resin, plastic, and metal RPM fellow layout cars before being dispatch to a better life in the hands of a fine fellow modeler far away in another state.
Two big issues plague wood models: the reaching for a smooth surface by filling in the grain; and meticulously keeping the glue totally within the joint alone and not squeezed out. (How many otherwise beautiful wood models have I picked over at Flea Markets that had more glue spilled outside the joints than within; and/or paint applied over raw wood without filling?)
I fill my wood traditionally with refined Model Sanding filler (commonly available at R-C stores), a filler that combines pumice with clear lacquer. I have used this for probably 50 years or so. I also now use Tamiya Sanding surfacer (filler) which comes in a very high quality rattle can. The latter provides a uniform smooth monocolor background that allows much easier detection of dirt and flaws.
Although one can do some sanding before application of the surfacer/filler, the real sanding effectiveness comes after the filler has caused all of the grain to stiffly stand up or stand proud ready for the sandpaper (max needed 320 grit) to mow it down. I use sandpaper of all shapes and sizes to reach all the nooks and crannies, and I use several variety of brushes to vigorously clean out seams etc. If you are filling seams and are not wanting to do so, there is something wrong, commonly over-application, or failure to clear the seams before hand.
For glue, my general firm go-to is Krystal Klear: there is adequate working time, sufficient adherance strength, and easy water clean up. I do use thick ACC, Barge, and high quality epoxies also to take advantage of the specific special qualities that each exhibit.
The common issues
Denny S. Anspach, MD
Sacramento, CA 95864