Stressing Wood with Doctor Ben's

This technique has probably been covered by a hundred people all with slight variations of how each person does it just a wee bit different. Modelers with more experience may find some of this information familiar; novice modelers may find it useful to overwhelming. For me, the best part of this job is the opportunity to share how I construct models and the techniques that I use to stress and weather them.

The the time requirements needed for the construction of the board-on-board technique Tom Yorke originally designed into the HO & O Scale "the Rustic Stone & Frame Factory" kits has always been one of my least favorite things to do. Still, the affect can be amazing, and the customer wants what the customer wants. Since we purchased the Thomas Yorke Ent. structure lines five years ago, this "the Rustic Stone & Frame Factory" kit has been one of the most requested in the group. This technique and my procrastination to develop "the Rustic Stone & Frame Factory" kit has been the main source of the delay. "the Rustic Stone & Frame Factory" kit instructions notes that this Blog Technique is available on-line to aid the modeler in this step of the HO & O scale kit construction.

General Preparation

The Tips & Techniques in this Blog Tutorial recommend the use of the Doctor Ben’s Tools as well as Weathering Stains, Solutions, and Industrial Pigments for sealing and finishing the strip wood used for the wall finish in this construction. For this technique, Doctor Ben's Weathering Stains and Instant Age Weathering Solution were applied with a standard 1/4" round soft bristle brush commonly used for applying watercolors.

Step #1 — Using a 1/4" round standard watercolor brush, apply Doctor Ben’s Antique Weathering Stain (#1094) in a "dry-brushed", random pattern. The "dry-brushed" stain is created by dipping just the tip of the brush into the Doctor Ben's Weathering Stain (shaken well before opening) and then dabbing on to a paper towel to remove some of the moisture. The stain was intentionally applied NOT to cover the raw strip wood completely. The reason for this is that when the Doctor Ben's Instant Age is applied further in these instructions, the Instant Age application will turn the raw strip wood a silvery grey. Wait a few minutes stain to dry  to the touch and using light-to-medium pressure, drag a wood stressing tool the direction of the wood grain. NOTE: The "wood stressing tool" shown in the Step #1 image is a "re-purposed" Atlas Track Saw that was worn smooth in the middle. I cut the hardened blade with a Dremel and a rubber cut-off wheel. I also use this tool to cut and/or clean up brick mortar joints.

Step #2 — Use a square to mark vertical reference lines perpendicular to the bottom of the wall section. NOTE: It is advised to NOT use the blue gel pen shown in the image of Step #2. The Instant Age application furthers in these instructions may/will cause the blue gel to "bleed" onto the stained wood. For increased realism, create random and staggered joints to create the realism of a contractor/factory owner who used every scrap of material to finish the exterior of this structure. I prefer to start in the middle and oscillate from the right side to the left and back to the right side again. Also, rotate the distressed strip wood 180° to create more random realism. This is a time consuming process and there is nothing more disappointing when finished than to discover that the boards are slanted and all that time and effort is ruined. The square is your friend!

Step #3 — Use an X-ACTO knife with a fresh blade to trim the window and door openings as well as the rafter tail slots along the top edge of the wall. In order to replicate the original 1978 "the Rustic Stone & Frame Factory" kit design, I decided to "create" the office door clapboard section using 1/16" square and scale 2"x 8" scrap wood. I should have used scale 1"x 8" strip wood instead. The plastic window and office door casting were checked for fit in the opening. before moving to the next step. The wood bracing in the door openings will be trimmed off when the wall is glued to its foundation castings.

Step #4 — Using our friend the square and a Doctor Ben’s Nail Hole Tool (HO#1492, S#1493, & O#1494) very sharp scriber, or some other fine pointy device; apply rows of subtle nail-head marks/holes every two scale feet or so. I still remember the first Fine Scale Models (FSM) kit instructions that called for a multitude of horizontal rows of nail-head marks/holes; I thought to myself, "Oh he** no, I don't have time for that." After a number of failed efforts finally came what thousands have purchased (and in some cases copied) as the Doctor Ben’s Nail Hole Tool. Today, I still use the same tool that I made in the late 1970's shown in the Step #4 image. The instructions for the Doctor Ben’s Nail Hole Tool goes into greater depth and discussion of how to use the tool most effectively, so I'll not go into too much detail other than 1) Even using a magnifier the mark/pricks that the Doctor Ben’s Nail Hole Tool makes on the wood are very difficult to see until the Instant Age wash (Step #5) especially if the wood is "pre-stressed" as is the case in this tutorial. The arrow in the Step #4 image is pointing at what appears to be well defined marks made by the Doctor Ben’s Nail Hole Tool. The truth is that I passed the Doctor Ben’s Nail Hole Tool blade through some Instant age and then ran the tool on the wood wall. One thing to note about this tool is that practice make perfect. The harder the Doctor Ben’s Nail Hole Tool is pressed down on the wood, the more defined and less random the nail holes look on the finished model. And don't forget; make certain that nail-head marks/holes are especially noticeable where the ends of two boards meet as butt joints. If the butt joints are not hailed down, moisture and time will cause the ends of the "prototype" boards to crack and curl up.

Step #5 — Apply a “very” thin wash of Doctor Ben’s Instant Age Weathering Solution (#1152) to the wall lying flat on the work surface. After applying the first Instant Age wash, place the wall in the sun or in front of a fan to accelerate the Isopropyl Alcohol drying process. In order to make the weathering more distinct, add another Instant Age wash and allow to dry. Repeat as needed. The Step #5 image illustrates difference of NOT having yet applied Instant Age to the nail holes (on the left side of the wall) and the Instant Age wash to the right half the wall surface. The the wall in the Step #5 image has just had the Instant Age wash applied to better illustrate the difference in the image.

Step #6 — Both of "the Rustic Stone & Frame Factory" kit front and rear walls were stained & distressed with Doctor Ben’s Antique White, but the wall on the left was also very lightly dry brushed with Doctor Ben’s Faded Boxcar Red (#1069). A better choice would have been to use Doctor Ben’s Rustic Barn Red (#1089). The Faded Boxcar Red application tends to look like a natural wood color rather than a tired, old paint job. Also worth noting is that the Instant Age application to the wall turns the distressed natural strip wood that shows through the Antique White and Faded Boxcar Red a silvery, grey color. This layering technique is how I create a more dimensional look to the staining and weathering application process. For more distressing of the wall boards, a single-edge razor blade could be used to increase the distressing by slicing some individual boards at an angle and lifting the fractured board away from its flat surface. Since this is a Pilot Model for "the Rustic Stone & Frame Factory" kit, I didn't want to over do the weathering and distressing.


 The techniques described here are only guidelines to help you to create the look you want. The important thing is to do it the way you will like it. The methods outlined here will take a little practice. Just jump in and try and don’t be afraid to make a mistake or two. Mistakes are only opportunities. You’d be surprised how many “mistakes” actually work.

FYI Pilot Model construction by Richard E. (Ben) Bendever and weathered using Doctor Ben's Weathering Stains, Solutions & Pigments as described in the kit instructions.