A quick easy way to make curved corners for your backscene

how to make curved corners for a backsceneIf you want your backscene to have curved corners you may be struggling with how to create the curved wood onto which the paper is glued. I did and then I had this idea.

Backscenes transform and are a foundation for a good layout, so much so that I’ve covered them in-depth before. And when installing them, most modellers opt for right-angle ends at as these are the easiest to construct.

But as I explain here, right-angle corners can spoil the look of your otherwise perfect layout and curved corners are much nicer, they’re just not easy to fit.

Certainly, despite the tips in the previous article, I’ve struggled to create a curved wooden frame onto which the backscene glued.  This was the challenge I had with my current layout until I had a brainwave.

My layout is built on a typical plywood base with a top layer of Polystyrene type material to give me a surface I can easily carve into for rivers and low lying fields.

While struggling to get some plywood to gently bend for the curved corners of the background, I started thinking about other solutions and had a go with quite a few alternative materials.

Cardboard, foamboard and even fabric soaked in PVA and then hung between two pieces of wood so it would set in a gentle but firm curve were all tried without success. I even considered taking some large blocks of Polystyrene that came with a 3D Printer I’ve recently purchased and cutting curves into them with a hot knife. However, the thought of trying to get the curves just right all the way through a large rectangular block didn’t fill me with joy so I parked that for a future experiment.

And then I happened upon a spare sheet of the material I’d used to top my baseboard.

I’d used floor tile underlay, the type you can get in DIY stores in packs of 5 or 10 sheets for about £10 and it turned out to be perfect for creating the curved corners.

> If you want more information making backscenes, I highly recommend Creating a Backscene: A Railway Modelling Companion by Paul Bambrick & John Ellis-Cockell. It’s THE guide on the subject. 

It naturally bends easily and can be fixed in place really easily.

Just coat the background wood with PVA, bend the sheet to the radius of the curve you want, push it into place and clamp the ends until dry.

A gentle curve onto which your backscene can be glued can be achieved in no time and with none of the fuss of bending plywood or other materials.

The end result can be seen in the photo above, I’m very happy with it and have yet to find any disadvantage. Let me know how you get on.

Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of modelrailwayengineer.com. He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.
  1. Andy

    Not sure what you mean by blending the foamex to the baseboard. I screwed the foamex to the edge of the baseboard frame and the height can be anything upto about 4 ft. It just depends on your the depth backscene.


  2. Hi Andy
    I am a newcomer to model railways but have just started to build my first one.
    I totally agree that the corners of the back scene look much better when curved.
    What I have used is Foamex which I believe comes in 3mm and 5mm thicknesses and 4×8 and 4×10 foot sheets. It cuts easily with a Stanley knife.
    I used 3mm and it bends very easily, if very tight curve is required a warm hair drier makes it easy and when cooled off it more or less holds its shape.
    Foamex is used by sign writers, for example, for printing house For Sale signs etc and my local sign writer sold me a 10ft x1ft piece for about £15, well worth it.

    • Hi Norman, thanks; that sounds similar to what I use. One question, how to you blend the foamex so there isn’t a ridge between where it ends and the normal baseboard? I use sandpaper so there’s a gentle join but always looking for alternative ideas if you have them. Thanks, Andy

  3. Many thanks Andy, I have found it at Homebase and Screwfix. Please keep up the good work, I find MRE a great source of information and inspiration. Colin.

  4. Hi Andy, I am looking forward to getting a corner curve into my new scenery. Have you fount the label yet?

    • Hi Colin, sorry for the delay. It was called Premier Board by Vitrex, 19 boards of 600x856mm. I’m sure I got it in either B&Q or Homebase. Andy

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