Scratch building a 4mm scale storage shed

Photo of a stoage shed on a model railway.How the storage sheds for White River Mills where constructed.

Dotted around White River Mills, my 4mm scale 009 layout are storage sheds for goods arriving in the yards, they complement the engine shed, mill and blacksmith.

Initially I used some models from eBay for test placement but subsequently have built my own

Here’s how I went about it.


Materials used

  • Plasticard sheet with textures for walls, roofing and windows
  • 6V light bulb
  • Tamiya Polycement
  • Hot glue
  • Clearfilm plastic sheet
  • Vellejo paints, assorted colours for the stone, wood and roofing.

Tools needed

  • Magnetic corner clamps
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scalpels
  • 3D printer – for internal detailing and barn darn

Research & reference

I love the look of the granite and stone buildings in GWR territory, Cornwall from the late 19th / early 20th century.

They’re beautiful solid structures with colouring and texture that blend naturally into the surrounding environment and this is one of the reasons White River Mills is set in this area. As such, I go out of my way to make sure the models are accurate reflections of buildings from this area and era.

Old buildings from Morwelliam Quay in Devon.

For stonework reference, I used buildings from Devon and Cornwall and took photos of different angles and close-ups of the windows, doors, and detailing. This one is from a visit to Morwellham Quay in Devon.

Thankfully, there are lots of typical buildings from this period still around of which I can take reference photos and measurements.  After a few visits to  Morewellham Quay in Devon with its Victorian village and old sheds around Par, Cornwall, I had enough pictures of walls, doors, windows and roofs and their dimensions to work from.  In particular, the structure above was very helpful.

Building the structure

First up was the walls.
I usually make my models from foam board, air drying clay and even polymer clay or combination of these materials – but for this model, I used an embossed styrene sheet, with appropriate textures.
photo showing plasticard sheets being aligned so the stone edges matches

Aligning the stone and morter lines across sheets of plasticard for the corners to match.

Different sheets were laid next to each other to find panels where the texture pattern aligned with the next so the stone and mortar lines would match at the corners (I’ll come back to this).

They were then marked up for size and shape (two oblongs for the front and rear profiles and two oblong triangular prices for the gable ends) as determined by my previous research visits before being cut.
Many off-the-shelf model buildings don’t typically have floors but I include them as it adds to the structural strength of the model and allow internal detailing to be added (more on this later). For this, I used a wood floorboard styrene sheet.
The roof pieces were cut from roofing plasticard, with the finials at the crest of the roof. I opted for slate effect sheets as this reflected the slate tiles on the reference buildings.
Spaces for the sliding barn door and window were cut into the wall sections and the window frame glued into place. With the walls sections, cut they were then primed with a quick spray from the airbrush.
For the glass, I cut a small square from the transparent part of the plasticard packaging.
A flathead screwdriver was tapped against the ‘glass’ in one corner to create a cracked glass look before it was glued to the back of the window frame. Polycent can frost the transparent glass so instead a dab of hot glue was used to secure the ‘glass’ in place.

Both outer and inner walls have textures for anyone looking closely.

Four additional sheets of the embossed stone plasticard were then cut and glued back-to-back on the ones already cut so the stone texture is visible on both the exterior and interior surfaces, should anyone look closely. This also helps secure the window frame in place. These were glued into place and held with mini pegs and clamps until secure.
Earlier on I mentioned how the wall sections were matched to align the stonework at the corners. In addition to this, the inside edges of each the ends of the four wall sections were ground down to 45 degrees on my desktop sander so each corner would meet the next at a right angle.
Using magnetic clamps to hold walls at right angles while glue sets

Magnetic clamps are used to hold the wall sections in place while being glued.

A tiny dab of poly cement was then placed down the middle of each wall end and along the bottom edge and the four pieces presented to the floor section and each other before magnetic clamps were positioned to hold the hold together at 90 degrees while the glue set. A needle head dispenser I knocked up previously was used to apply the glue to the centre of the joins, no more is needed as it’ll spread out, and this avoids the glue leaking out onto the surface and ruining the visible texture.

Adding internal lighting

With the core of the structure in place, an orange light bulb was fixed at the apex of one of the gabble walls and the wires for this passed through a hole I’d drilled in one corner of the floor.  The wires and bulb were then fixed into place with hot glue.

Inner detailing

Along with the inner wall textures, I wanted some hint of goods being stored and work going on inside the shed.
I found the STL file for some 4mm scale barrels and crates and printed them on my 3D resin printer before painting and positioning them near the doorway so they can be seen.
A figure carrying a bag, from the Woodland Scenics farm figures set – WOOA1857 – was also put in place. In other versions of this I’ve made, walls of storage bays have been created from balsa wood, with 28 SWG gauge wire used for the supports.


With the building complete, the final step was to paint the roof, walls, doors, and windows.

First, I masked off the open doorway and windowpanes with masking tape.

I applied a light coat of Vallejo stone grey (884) to the outer and inner walls. This colour closely resembled the granite of the prototype buildings in Cornwall and Devon.

Next, I applied a dark brown wash of Citadel Agrax Earthshade. This wash added depth and shadow to the stonework.

Finally, I dry brushed the walls with Vallejo dark gray (994) to highlight the raised edges and create a weathered appearance.

Once the walls were dry, I removed the masking tape and applied a peeling wood effect to the doors and windows. For this, the wood is painted with Vellejo burnt umber (941), salt granules were then sprinkled over the wood where I wanted the peeled paint look. Finally, the wood was overpainted with deck tan (986) and the salt brushed off to create a cracked peeled paint look.

To finish the building, I dappled MIG Slimy Grim around the base of the walls and door to create a mossy effect and some green scatter was sprinkled around it to represent climbing plants.

Adding the roof

With the internal lighting and external and internal paintwork complete, the roof could now be attached. This is where you find if the end gable wall sections and right angles of the wall sections are aligned, otherwise, the panels don’t lie flat or line up.
On the first attempt, I fixed roof to buildings only to then realise the insides weren’t complete and roof needed removing. Very irritating to put it mildly! 🙂
As a precautionary measure, I now secure the roof in place with a few drops of glue so I can easily remove them if I need to get to the insides in the future. These drops are also aligned with prominent features on the outside of the building, in this case the window, so I know where the glue is and can work it free with a knife if necessary.
With the roof sections in place, the finials were added along the top crest.

Finishing touches

model railway

The finished building in situ.

The building was then put in place on the layout and connected to a 12 volt power source for internal lighting. With the building constructed and positioned, I then added a few final touches such as a barrel to the left and a pigeon perched on the roof. The seam between the building and ground was covered with scatter and some vegetation with a sprinkling or static grass applied here and here.

Update: Since first adding this and it’s appearance in subsequent layout photos, I’ve had a few people contact me asking if I can make these for them. After a bit of thinking I’ve decided to sell these – along with the bonfire  – and they are now in my ready-made model railway buildings store so take a look there.

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Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of 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.

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