Sunday, February 15, 2015

Cheap and Easy O Scale Storefronts

Recently there was a post on the Facebook traction modelers' group about who makes the best O scale storefronts. My comment was to make your own. Scratch building O scale buildings is remarkably easy and rather inexpensive.

So, to back this claim up, I decided to document the construction of an O scale building. starting with the storefront.

Materials used (I unfortunately did not document exactly what I used. BUT ... the below list encompasses about 90% of all the materials that I use on all my buildings):

  • N Scale Architect brick sheets
  • Evergreen styrene sheets:
    • 040" thick sheet
    • 020" thick sheet
  • Evergreen styrene strips:
    • .015 x .125
    • .030 x .030
    • .040 x .040
    • 0.40 x .100
    • .040 x .125
    • .040 x .188
    • .040 x .250
    • .060 x .060
    • .100 x .100
    • .100 x .188
    • .100 x .250

The space I want to fill is in front of my "Sheridan Curve":

Since I didn't want to obscure either the L structure or the TV, I decided to make a one story building. The overall design is based loosely off of a DSL Shops building, but scaled to fit the space. I drew a very rough sketch of the building out on a piece of paper:

To start construction, you need to think in three dimensions and work from the inside out. That is, you start from the most "inside" portions of the storefront and work towards the outside. You are layering items to create depth. First up, the base of the storefront:

I do try to follow the plan, but its still rather a "free form" process:

Add some sheet styrene to tie the door frames to the sides of the store front:

I add some layers to the base to add depth:

Followed by some foundation blocks. Round these pieces off with a file to simulate them being made of stone.

Next, start adding the window mullions. My spacing is a touch off, but not really to concerned .. its close enough.

Add horizontal mullions next, stacking various shapes on top of each other to simulate window frames:

I tied the two sides together with a door step, also rounded off with a file to simulate it being made of stone.

A door was made next. I made it separate from the storefront so that painting will be easier. I decided to go with a double door ... it helps get more O scale shoppers into the store.

The door in the storefront. I won't glue it in permanently until I paint everything.

Next I laid out the brickwork above the storefront. I decided to make a curved top to add architectural detail. I drew the curve using a plastic container, then laid out the roof lines and a section where I wanted to recess the brickwork. 

Carefully cut the brick out, paying particular attention around the curved portion. Plan ahead for any areas where you want to recess sections of brick. The N Scale Architect brick sheets are 0.020" thick so they do cut very easily. Use .020" styrene to add depth to the recesses.

I added some soldier course bricks to outline the center recess to add some details.

The back is "thickened" using larger styrene shapes. This gives the wall prototypical thickness and heft.

A test fit of the newly joined storefront and brick facade. It fits well in the space:

Next, I made the side brick pillars that "frame the storefront. These protrude slightly from the facade to give some relief to the front of the building. I am in the process of adding stone details to the bases of the pillars.

I hope that these pictures show how easy it is to make your own O scale buildings. By doing this, all your buildings will be unique to your layout.


  1. Nice work. Was the "ELL" structure made by you or did you buy it?

  2. proof that i should have taken drafting in HS. your work looks sweet Terry. gives me inspiration.

  3. Thanks for walking us thru your process. I may try this in HO when I have time.

    Jim K.