Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Scratchbuilt Buildings - Part 3

The Roofing

Making the roof tiles is a mind-numbing process because a lot of the work is going through a process of measure, cut, filigree, bend, trim, and mount.  Well, okay; the mounting part is pretty fun.  At this point I've got one large building completely roofed and one smaller building almost done.  For this first set of four buildings (see Part 2) I intend to have them with the same style of roofing.  Any future buildings of the same size or larger I'll try something else.

Get a bunch of used cereal boxes or an equivalent.  The larger boxes are better because they'll allow you to have longer strips of roofing.  Smaller boxes are okay for smaller houses.  My buildings are 5" x 8.5" for the smaller ones, and so any cereal boxes need to be at least 8.5" tall or wide.

The Steps

  1. The first step is to unfold a cereal box.  A good sized cereal box will un-wrap into four panels, two of which are of best utility.  
  2. Next is to find a good metal ruler and a matt-knife.  The metal ruler should be long enough to measure the length of one of a cereal box panel.  I use an 18" metal ruler that is an inch wide.
  3. On the interior of a panel, draw  inch-wide parallel lines flush with the creases of the panel because it will help you keep orientation. These form the basis of the roof shingle strips.
  4. Afterwards, using an nice pen mark and draw parallel lines perpendicular to those earlier lines.  Make these marks/lines about a quarter-inch apart.  This becomes the width of a roof shingle.  This is very inane work so don't make them any more narrow.
  5. Cut out the strips on the lines created at step #3.  Yeah, fun!
  6. More inane stuff here; use big scissors and cut into the strips along those quarter-inch shingle lines; cut about half-way through to the other side of each strip.
  7. Aftewards, alternate bending the shingles on each strip up or down.  This will add character to your shingles.  Gack! This is a lot of work.
  8. Now, using your scissors cut every other bent shingle; either the up or down set.  Cut about a quarter-inch off of that set.  This will make every other shingle on a strip be noticeably shorter.
  9. Using a glue-gun or some sort of house-hold glue, lay the strips down and stagger their position so that the strips overlap on the shingle cuts.  That is; the shingles on the top strip should lay on the shingles of the bottom strip upon the cuts.  Have the strips be about a quarter-inch to a half-inch apart.
  10. Once everything dries, measure how big one side of your building's roof is.  Cut out a section of the tiles to match those dimensions.  Glue your set of strips to the roof.
  11. At the top of the roof, once both sets of shingles are in place; add a long flat piece of cardboard the length of the roof.  Bend it into a v-shape point that opens downwards.  This will hide the join area.
  12. Voila!  Now suffer through this for all of your buildings!  I've discovered that one cereal box is good enough to cover one building; each cereal box panel serving one side of each building's roof.  That's between 8 and 10 strips per panel.
Here the strips have been cut-out.  I get 10 per cereal box.

These are my strips with the shingle cuts in place.

Here is a finished strip.  Notice the alternate bends and the short-cuts.

One of the larger buildings complete.  Notice the roof top.

This is one of the smaller buildings almost done.


  1. Nice work, I think I am about to get back into building scenery your stuff has been inspiring...

    BTW, you have been nominated for the Liebster Award by me. Check out my Strange Aeons blog about how to carry it forward if you like.

    1. Thanks styx! Robert and I are both really honored that you selected our blog!

  2. Nice tutorial thanks for sharing this

  3. @styx; investigating the Liebster Award thingy. I've got a couple of blogs in mind, but not five but I guess I need to try harder. Thanks!

    @Brummie; thanks. I've finally re-discovered the where-abouts of my camera and so I'm able to get these pictures. There will be more tutorials. =)

  4. Nice work Robert. Your buildings are much cleaner looking than mine!
    The roof shingling looks great! Now you just have to get a little paint on them!