Another use for sand and wood dust

Following my cheapskate thread I've been doing a little more experimenting.

One of the techniques I use when making stone walls, flagstones and the like is to use plaster of paris in a thin shim over a wooden former and then carve out the shape of the stones, flags, sets etc. It's very long winded process but has the advantages of being cheap a 3kg (wow I've just used a French measurement!) sack of Plaster of Paris costs about £2 and the result looks very good.

Well what I tried today was adding various amounts of sand and again dust from the sanding machine to the mix. Sand makes the mix hard to carve when set, (although Mr Dremel with a diamond burr was happy enough) but the results were very good indeed. A sand heavy mixture made good rough cut stone and a dust heavy mix made a good fully finished stone.

Just thought I'd pass it on.

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Chris Wilson
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This method was published in Model Railways Online Magazine:

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by myself several years ago as a method of building my viaduct:
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As Chris says, it is a very cost effective method but does have the disadvantage of being very time consuming. It took me 3 months to build the 1M long/20cm high viaduct in the above picture (5 foot radius curve). The really good thing about the method is that I personally believe that plaster treated with grey water colour is about the most realistic stone effect you will get. Here are some photos of my viaduct under contruction:

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The method is particularly useful for large stone wall areas and doesn't suffer from 'joins' which you get with embossed plastic sheeting.

I wouldn't recommend adding anything to the plaster except perhaps, paint, as any impurity will cause weeknesses. I found that the Dremel was best used 2-3 days after the plaster had been applied - it was still slightly damp, but not fuly hardened and responded well to a mini counter-sink for carving. I did add wallpaper paste to my plaster to prevent cracking (was very successful): this is what Polyfiller is - at AU$10.00 per bag. Go to the builder's section of the DIY centre and buy 20KG of builder's plaster for AU$7.00 and some wallpaper paste for a few $ and you are way ahead! Don't go for the brand names and use basic builder's products!

Graham Plowman

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