Trains.com

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Nail Holes In Wooden Siding

1892 views
15 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 18,182 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, June 2, 2023 12:08 PM

Looking at other people's examples of building craftsman kits, I do think the nail holes added with a 1/4" pounce wheel do add something.

I think I will be doing this on the structures I build.

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

  • Member since
    April 2021
  • From: saskabush
  • 127 posts
Posted by wvgca on Friday, June 2, 2023 12:04 PM

it also makes a difference on what type of wood the siding is made from, a softer wood [like cedar] will close up on nail holes much more so that a harder wood [like fir]  ..

also as stated previously, a finishing nail has a much smaller head than say, a framing nail which has a much larger head by porportion

  • Member since
    March 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 11,378 posts
Posted by dknelson on Friday, June 2, 2023 9:36 AM

maxman

What's everyone's opinion about drilling out the holes in an MDC covered hopper running board to  improve the look without having to replace the board with a metal part?

 
That's a lot of holes.  And while some metal running boards did involve round holes such as your drilling would create, the most common on covered hoppers would be square or rectangle openings in a grid.  I think thinning the plastic running board (as mentioned above by another poster) and highlighting the cast-in texture with a spray of isopropyl alcohol and india ink, would convey much of the look you are aiming for at considerably less effort
Dave Nelson
  • Member since
    October 2007
  • From: Fullerton, California
  • 1,347 posts
Posted by hornblower on Thursday, June 1, 2023 4:58 PM

Having grown up in a "construction" based family, one of the things that always bothers me about nail holes on model buildings is that they are rarely placed in the correct positions.  All too often, the modeler just starts at one corner of the structure and measures out every 16" until reaching the other end of the wall. This practice totally ignores the fact that double studs always occur on either side of every window and door, regardless of the 16" on center "maximum allowed" stud spacing.  Studs can, and often have to be placed less than 16" inches apart when a window or door messes up the perfect spacing scheme. Modelers that want to add nail holes should start on each side of every window and door, as well as at the corners of the structure.  Then and only then, should they mark out the remaining studs at 16" on center.  Don't forget that there have to be additional studs above every door and window more than 16" wide as well as below the windows.  

As far as whether the model should include nail holes, that is your choice. However, when I look at a prototype structure, I usually see rust from the nail or screw leaching into and down the surrounding wood, or the old paint peeling away from around the nail or screw head.  At any distance of more than 10 feet, you really don't see a nail, screw, hole, or even a depression where the nail or screw has been driven.  A head of a typical "box" nail is only about 1/4" in diameter.  That works out to only 0.003" in HO scale and would be pretty darn hard to see (a pretty good reason why I don't add nail holes to my models).  I think a better way to model weathered nails would be to place a tiny drop of a black or rust colored wash on the tip of a pin, then touch (do not drive) the pin to the model siding where you want a nail to appear.  Maybe this would make a good modeling experiment for someone interested in modeling nail holes to try.

Hornblower

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: west coast
  • 7,442 posts
Posted by rrebell on Sunday, May 28, 2023 8:28 AM

SeeYou190

 

 
kasskaboose
I read not to add eyes to HO scale figures since few can see that close.  Additionally, adding eyes won't look proportional to the figure.  I just paint faces.

 

I paint the eyes on HO people. The exception is Preiser figures, there is no definition to the faces and painting eyes brings this out on the finished figure. 

I stop painting eyes on 15mm scale figures that are simply rank and file (1/100), but commanders still get eyes. I don't paint eyes on 10mm (1/150) or smaller at all.

-Photograph by Kevin Parson

The above figures are 1/100 Ancient Iberian Spaniards. The eyes are not whited, but the area surrounding the eye is shaded to give the faces depth. At normal viewing distances (12 inches or so), they look incredible.

-Kevin

 

I find a wash, like Citadel's  shade earthshade add an illusion of eyes etc. without accually painting them and is easy to control how much shading there is as it gives you time to remove excess. 

  • Member since
    August 2011
  • From: A Comfy Cave, New Zealand
  • 5,905 posts
Posted by "JaBear" on Saturday, May 27, 2023 9:23 PM

maxman
What's everyone's opinion about drilling out the holes in an MDC covered hopper running board to  improve the look without having to replace the board with a metal part?

 I think it’s a good idea which I wish I had thought of because on my MDC covered hopper kit bash’s, I’ve “thinned” the running board.
 
 GERN 5634 by Bear, on Flickr
Cheers, the Bear.Smile

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

  • Member since
    February 2008
  • 8,498 posts
Posted by maxman on Saturday, May 27, 2023 5:20 PM

So, nail holes in siding has been discussed.

What's everyone's opinion about drilling out the holes in an MDC covered hopper running board to  improve the look without having to replace the board with a metal part?

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 18,182 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, May 27, 2023 12:23 PM

kasskaboose
I read not to add eyes to HO scale figures since few can see that close.  Additionally, adding eyes won't look proportional to the figure.  I just paint faces.

I paint the eyes on HO people. The exception is Preiser figures, there is no definition to the faces and painting eyes brings this out on the finished figure. 

I stop painting eyes on 15mm scale figures that are simply rank and file (1/100), but commanders still get eyes. I don't paint eyes on 10mm (1/150) or smaller at all.

-Photograph by Kevin Parson

The above figures are 1/100 Ancient Iberian Spaniards. The eyes are not whited, but the area surrounding the eye is shaded to give the faces depth. At normal viewing distances (12 inches or so), they look incredible.

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • 2,520 posts
Posted by John-NYBW on Saturday, May 27, 2023 11:02 AM

A lot has to do with the age of the structure and the techniques used to construct it. Decades of watching This Old House tells me that the nails go in on the upper part of the clapboard so that the course above it hides the nails. I've lived in two clapboard sided house in my life and don't recall seeing nail holes in any of them although I admit I never looked closely.

Even if nails are inserted on the visual part of the plank, at what distance would they even be visible? I'd bet you would have to be very close to the structure to see the nails. In model railroading, rarely would we view a structure from a scale distance close enough to make out the nails. On top of that, you wouldn't see nail holes. You would see nail heads. You wouldn't want to countersink the nail heads because that would allow water to get inside the wood and rot it prematurely. All these are reasons why I would never put nail holes in the siding of my wood structures, whether they are made from plastic or are actually wood. 

Of course, this is a hobby of personal choice so if you think it adds to the appearence of your structures, go ahead. 

UPDATE: I decided to go online to some building trade websites to find an answer to this question (what a radical idea). Here's a sample of what I found.

Nailing Clapboard Siding: Top, Bottom, or Both? - Fine Homebuilding

Clapboard nailing - JLC-Online Forums (jlconline.com)

Nailing Cedar Clapboard - DoItYourself.com Community Forums

It seems that even among those in the building trades, there is a difference of opinion on this issue. One thing they do seem to agree on is that nails should go in the top (blind nailing) or bottom (face nailing) but not both. Wood wants to expand and contract and nailing both will not allow that, causing the wood to split.

Going back to This Old House, I've never seen Tom Silva face nail clapboards. The current series is about a 300 year old house in Ipswich, MA. It has clapboard siding and they are replacing some of the old siding and matching the clapboards on the new additions. I think it was just last week they were putting in the new clapboards and they were top nailed. 

  • Member since
    February 2008
  • 2,190 posts
Posted by kasskaboose on Saturday, May 27, 2023 10:24 AM

dknelson

That is one of the fun ironies of the hobby: sometimes you are better to leave a detail off entirely and other times you are better off exaggerating it and making it more obvious or larger.  

Dave Nelson

 

 
100% agree.  I have a wood barn and don't bother adding nail holes. 
 
Along the visual realism theme, I read not to add eyes to HO scale figures since few can see that close.  Additionally, adding eyes won't look proportional to the figure.  I just paint faces.
  • Member since
    March 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 11,378 posts
Posted by dknelson on Saturday, May 27, 2023 9:59 AM

Nail holes (or rather, rot-exposed or rusted nail heads since after all the hole is presumably filled with nail!), are an example of a detail which might or might not replicate what one would actually see or notice or photograph from, let's say, 87 feet away, on the assumption that our faces rarely get closer than one actual foot from our models.  But they do effectively convey a desired idea: this structure is old, it is not well maintained or regularly painted, that sort of thing.  Since the basic style and building methods for wood structures have not changed all that much in a couple of centuries, details such as that are one available way to get that notion across.  This is also why sometimes weathering which is actually a bit  overdone can be very effective at communicating a bigger message than mere literal visual realism.  This in turn is why we sometimes refer to there being an element of art in model railroading.  

Balance and reasonableness are the guiding factors.  Decades ago there was a very interesting structure modeling article in Model Railroader (possibly by the very good modeler David R Lee, at least that is what I recall) where every board in the "wood" structure, a depot I think, was built using board-by-board styrene where the modeler had painstakingly modeled VERY deep wood grain in every "board."  The problem was wood grain doesn't look that deep on every board, even driftwood, and secondly even with a pretty old and abandoned structure, wood grain becomes less and less visible once you are a couple of feet away from the wood, but in the photo of the model you were obviously well away from the structure.  So it was in a sense amazing realism in the sense of modeling every board, but distracting unrealism in its conveyed effect.  All you could see was the modeling effort not the simulation of something you'd actually see.  

That is one of the fun ironies of the hobby: sometimes you are better to leave a detail off entirely and other times you are better off exaggerating it and making it more obvious or larger.  

Dave Nelson

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: west coast
  • 7,442 posts
Posted by rrebell on Saturday, May 27, 2023 9:15 AM

I have done nail holes before and on some buildings they realy pop, other a waste of time. If you do nail holes you have to do the one at a time type, the ponce wheel type just look bad as they never seem to hit the right places. One building i did that the nail holes poped was one that was still in use weathered and had a yellow drybrushed paint color. The wash applied after the painting toned the paint color down even more and the nail holes became very visable. The nail holes were easily seen from 3 feet and they were as small a hole as was practical (they will always be over sized in HO).

  • Member since
    August 2011
  • From: A Comfy Cave, New Zealand
  • 5,905 posts
Posted by "JaBear" on Friday, May 26, 2023 7:10 AM
Gidday Kevin, unless you were using to use the building for really close up foreground shots, I personally don’t think that you would achieve anything by applying nail holes.
 
I “grabbed” your first photo then enlarged it to approximately HO, O, and G scale, and with viewing it from arm’s length, the 3-foot rule, the nail holes did not stand out.
 
I’d just be happy to be able to get the aged timber and its various shades, looking right!
 
On my ferry apron, I was trying to achieve 10-inch-wide planking, attached with coach bolts, (carriage bolts may be the US term?) with 1 ¼” heads. This first photo is taken at arm’s length…
 W Deck by Bear, on Flickr
 
...and it’s not until the camera is 3 inches from the deck that the bolts are clearly visible.
 
 WDeck1 by Bear, on Flickr
 
1/4 My 2 Cents Cheers, the Bear.Smile

"One difference between pessimists and optimists is that while pessimists are more often right, optimists have far more fun."

  • Member since
    January 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 13,362 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, May 25, 2023 10:57 PM

SeeYou190
I have photographed hundreds and hundreds of buildings with wooden siding from coast to coast. From what I can see, if the building is not freshly painted then the nail holes are usually visible.

Yeah, and as Sheldon also mentioned...

"Real wood siding was and still is nailed both above the lap and below - BUT - with finishing nails, or "box" nails (which have a bigger head, but not as big as a framing nail) that are set and filled and would not show a hole visable in HO scale even in a deteriorated state."

Most of my "wooden structures" (styrene, of course) do not show nail holes, as most are modelled as recently-built or shown as well-kept structures.

This one, formerly used as perhaps a grain elevator or maybe one meant for coal, was a styrene scratchbuild, but I haven't yet decided where I want to place it....

...as you can see in the picture above, there are nail holes (or maybe nail heads) showing where there appears to have been an elevator for storing the commodity that had been used here.

This view shows what looks to also be an elvator, although there is no elevated ramp for a loaded vehicle (mainly because I haven't decided where to plant this structure)....

I used to build wooden structures using basswood sheet and strip material, but when I discovered styrene, in all its varieties of sheets and strips, along with shapes suitable to be used as if made in steel or concrete, there was no going back to wood.

Wayne

Nil
  • Member since
    June 2022
  • 12 posts
Posted by Nil on Thursday, May 25, 2023 9:46 PM

Nice point; good photos.  I know George Dutka, for one, puts them on his wood buildings, which are usually a bit worn.

Since I'm doing N scale, though, I'd want to do it with color than with a ponce wheel, since that's what really shows in the "distant" picture.  The second picture is several times N scale. 

Now to figure out how to apply tiny dots without taking forever to do it.

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 18,182 posts
Nail Holes In Wooden Siding
Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, May 25, 2023 8:54 PM

This was brought up in my thread about Fine Scale Miniatures structure kits:

A few users stated that putting nail holes in wooden siding was not reallistic.

I have photographed hundreds and hundreds of buildings with wooden siding from coast to coast. From what I can see, if the building is not freshly painted then the nail holes are usually visible.

-Photographs by Kevin Parson

From what I have been able to gather from my photographs, if you are not modeling a very well maintained structure, the addition of nail holes seems to be something that would add realism to the model.

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!