Cork roadbed - shaping shoulders question

Question x posted to uk.models.rail and rec.models.railroad

I am making an HO American outline model. Having read up on various ways of making roadbed I am now experimenting with cork.

I have purchased some cork tiles from B&Q (Home Depot on the US) I have managed to get a semi 'production line', using a paper trimmer, to make strips 20mm (just over 3/8") wide. This approx. half the width required for a single road and is what I've seen suggested [1]

The problem I now have is how to make some sort of 'production line' to make the shoulders (1 side of each strip) to roughly 45 degrees so that I do not use too much ballast.

I have considered trying to lay the cork first them shape it, but I know from previous experience it will always be in most difficult places to reach and so would like to do as much 'on the bench' as possible beforehand.

I have considered (but not yet tried) using my bench grinder and running each strip *lightly* down the smoothest side but don't know whether this would clog up the grinder too much or would cause the cork to burn too easily (I did say lightly!!)

Does anyone else have any suggestions?

[1] 2 x 20 mm strip have the advantage that you can just draw a centre line, lay one alongside it, then lay the second to that. It is also easier to bend than anything thicker would be.
Reply to
Mike Hughes
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You should be able to make alternate cuts with your knife held at 45 degrees when cutting the strips. Then turn half the strips over. For strips already made you can cut the 45 degree bevel in one edge with a sharp knife. Its not difficult to do this against a steel rule. Keith

Reply to

If you cut the strips at a 45 degree angle like the ones that Atlas and others sell, you'll have the desired slopes when you pull the two pieces apart and lay them with the vertical sides against each other. The nice thing about this method is that you don't waste any of the cork either!

-- Why do penguins walk so far to get to their nesting grounds?

Reply to
Bob May

Have you investigated using a "mat cutter"? This is a handy little tool that picture framers use to cut the 45 degree bevel on picture mats.

YMMV, fl@liner

Reply to

One suggestion I remember seeing from an article in MR (I think) many years ago, was to first cut the cork into 50mm strips. Then there was a design for a little gizmo that held a razor blade at 45 deg and cut it in half lengthways when the 50 mm cork strips were pushed through. The two halves were then laid down the centre linne of your track drawing, with each side having its own 45 deg slope thanks to Mr Razorblade.

I dont have the article, maybe someone can help, but IIRC it was quite simple and thinking about it, there is no reason why it shouldnt be esy to make.

Steve Magee Newcastle NSW Aust

Reply to
Steve Magee

Try a cutter designed for making mounts in picture framing. These cut fairly thick card at 45 degrees so may work with cork.


Reply to

Could you use a pizza cutter on a suitable 45 deg frame?????

Reply to
David Miller

I asked myself this series of questions also. Came down to 'do I really need a 45 degree slope?" So I gave it a test try with 90 degree vs 45 degree slopes and put some ballast down. When I was done, you couldn't tell the difference. Well, ok if you looked REAL CLOSE you could see that the stone ballast had 'depth' on the 90 degree cuts, whilst you could see 'cork' on the 45 degree cuts. Do I think that it would make the slightest difference from 2 feet away -> NOT.

I suspect that if you wanted to hide the cork as above, you probably would put down more ballast and it could be that I didn't put done enough in the first place. Your mileage may vary.

Try both and see what you like and which would be easier for your style of modeling!


Reply to

ctclibby spake thus:

Alternatively, you could just cut the edges square, then run a bead of caulk or something in the corner to create a 45° "fillet".

Reply to
David Nebenzahl

in article 4457e73f$0$3699$, David Nebenzahl at wrote on 5/2/06 4:14 PM:

I guess it may save some money, but all these suggestions seem to be a lot of work instead of just buying cork roadbed all beveled and the right size from Midwest products or foam roadbed from Woodland Scenics. Maybe I'm missing something but given the cost of a single good locomotive, the cost of prefabricated roadbed is small.

Reply to
Edward A. Oates

In message , David Nebenzahl writes

Great idea. Hadn't thought of that one!

Will also experiment with 90 degree and add extra ballast. As I'm using cork tiles it should give a lot more depth than 'model' cork thickness.

Reply to
Mike Hughes

In message , Edward A. Oates writes

I'm based in the UK and it's not easy to get over here or I would have considered it :-))

Reply to
Mike Hughes

in article CBO$jOB+, Mike Hughes at wrote on 5/2/06 9:01 PM:

See I was missing something: your location. Places like Walther's charge $5

  • 15 to 20% of the item cost to ship internationally. There must be some UK or EU based internet store from which you can purchase items and have it shipped more reasonably.

Have fun beveling!

Reply to
Edward A. Oates

Thanks for your feedback here's the results of experiments so far.

I've tried the bench grinder using some of my first (less successful) 'production line' strips of cork

Tried 'fine' end first: did not seem to make much impression with light pressure, pushed harder then it dug into the cork. After a few more passes worked out the pressure required and how fast to move along the edge.

Tried 'coarse' grinding wheel: Better and more easily controlled results with this, again once correct pressure has been established (by feel)

Both wheels give quite a lot of dust so I'll probably have to fit an extraction device of some sort (vacuum cleaner taped to bottom of grinding wheel table) and wear a mask. The other problem is that the lead in and exit from the strips of cork is not as even as the rest of the length, possibly due to position of hands holding cork. Maybe I can rig up some sort of jig to overcome this (and give correct angle).

Overall thoughts are that this could become a method of producing the strips at home as it gives me time with the 'domestic authority' when I'm cutting the cork into 20 mm strips (we both watch TV at the same time!) and it does give a smooth finish to the cork. Downside is that there is some time to be taken in learning the skills to get right pressure. Also there is a time/mess side to getting the bevel right.

In the meantime I'm considering trying some other methods so if anyone has any further suggestions feel free to tell me.

Reply to
Mike Hughes

Since you're experimenting with a bench grinder, have you thought about trying a wire wheel? If you use a fence or backstop to hold the cork in position, you should be able to get consistent results. Downside is probably even more dust generated...


Reply to

Mike. Here's how to make a simple little jig to cut the cork. I hope I can explain this so that it can be understood. I could send you a sketch if this doesn't get it.

  1. Obtain a small piece of hardwood approx 40mm wide by 100mm long by
20mm thick. The size can vary ( see note at bottom)
  1. Cut the wood down the middle at a 45 deg angle to yield 2 pieces approx 20mm x 100mm.
3.Lay one piece of wood on it's flat side with the 45 deg bevel on top. The wood should be perpendicular to you so the left to right measurement will be 100mm.
  1. Now take a utility knife blade and lay it on the angled block of wood at approx a 30 degree angle....the blade will be leaning back...toward your left , at the the above angle , with the cutting edge on your left side.
  2. Now mark the outer edges of the blade onto the wood. What we want now is a slot slightly thinner than the thickness of the utility knife blade cut into the wood. This will make sense in a moment.
6.Check fit and see that the blade will fit the slot snugly and ever so slightly above the top of the wood.
  1. Put the blade aside and lay the second block of wood onto the first. It would be good idea to clamp these together at this point so that we now have a block 40mmx100mm with a 45 deg cut down the middle and a slot that the utililty knife blade will fit in. The clamps will hold the blocks in place for the next step.
  2. Now drill a hole in each end through one block and slghtly into the second. What we want to do now is screw these blocks together to form a single block. Now screw the blocks together. Should be making sense about now :-)
9.Now loosen the screws holding the blocks together slightly so that you can slide the blade into the slot. Allow enough of the blade to protrude from the bottom to cut through the cork , then tighten the screws. If you cut the slot correctly the blade will now be captured between the two blocks snugly enough to hold whatever position you set. 10.Attach a straightedge , preferably a nice straight 1 x 2 , a little longer than the cork , to your workbench. Now lay a piece of cork that you have cut to width against the straightedge and slide the cutting block along the the straightedge and on top of the cork. It will cut a nice bevel down the middle of your cork and you now have 2 pieces of ready to use roadbed.

NOTE : You do have to make sure that the bevel is cut in the wood at the proper position so it will cut two pieces of cork of equal width. If you do get off a little you can add a shim to either the cutting block or straightedge.

You can most likely do this in less time than it to took me to explain it I hope this helps

Ken Day

Reply to

You could do this on a bandsaw easily. And a million other things. It's an invaluable tool. A three-wheel one would do fine, and they aren't very expensive.


Reply to

How about some drawings? Your explanation probably took som time to work out but I frankly don't understand it.

Reply to
Erik Olsen

In message , Ken writes

Great idea Ken, but I think we can improve it even more by just laying the whole cork tile into position then using your jig set to the 20mm width I can cut and bevel at the same time reducing the number of operations. Will try this next week (have to go to work sometimes or the domestic authority get a bit upset!) and report back next week on results.


Reply to
Mike Hughes

Carrs do sliced cork (2 strips per track) with the angle already done for you.

Reply to

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