Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Timber Paling Fences...Or How To Go Nuts...


Well today was the day to get moving on another piece of invaluable infrastructure for the layout..

I knew that this project would test my patience...but like most things you begin & it gets enjoyable & the end result in this case was well worth the effort.

To create a presentable & believable hardwood paling fence has been a "holy grail" of mine for years.

Things have certainly changed over the years & treated pine has largely taken over as the preferred choice for home owners who don't want the colourbond variety.....or brick.

For me two things have always been a compromise when modelling a domestic or industrial scene & that has been the fencing, either the barbed / chain wire fencing or the old paling fence & while i will leave the former to someone else....i thought i had the ability to solve the latter.

If this project was to fly, the most important aspects were that the components had to be timber...just like the prototype & the dimensions & construction had to be as accurate as technology & common sense would allow.

With the first "proofs" manufactured today i will describe the components...

The fence is modelled off a 6' / 1800mm high variety with 2700mm post centres. 

The posts have the mortises cut right through to house the fence rails & feature the beveled tops to shed water...I have left them long so they can be either trimmed or sunk into the scenery when fitted.  The mortises at this stage have been cut a touch off centre & the reasoning for this will be described along with the paling panels.

The rails speak for themselves & are a fairly neat fit through the post housings & are long enough for four panels of fencing including the posts.

The palings are the only compromise i have made & are designed as a one piece unit with beveled tops on each paling & feature simulated nail holes.  They have been lasered on each side for accurate representation.  The main compromise has been the thickness of the paling panel & this is the reasoning for the offset holes in the posts,   Although i feel that this aspect does not detract from the overall  finished appearance, it may be that i find a thinner material for the fence paling panels & readjust the post holes to centre.

For the modeller wishing to...you can snap the fence panels & easily remove a paling here & there or indeed have them laying on the ground here & there.

There are several elements to be assessed & maybe some mods will be adopted along the way.

While the components are tiny & some would say brittle...when assembled & glued they are relatively rigid & strong.

I will in the next run try & vary the individual paling colour via laser intensity...so weathering will be almost inherent & as much as the components are simple to assemble i might cut a jig to speed up construction.

So... the next question is will these fences see the light of day as a retail kit?...I think they are a relatively easy solve to an age old problem & if someone prefers they can utilise the spine of the fence & substitute corrugated iron for palings...

The major factor that will need to be addressed is...how many panels per pack???

I am as we speak designing the bevelled or sloped section panels that will be used to terminate the fence at the street boundary & will post some more shots when this is completed.

This project needed to go ahead now as a proving ground for small componentry....as the next project at this level will be stock races & yards.

I would certainly appreciate feedback on this one to gauge the viability of it's future...in the meantime i will keep churning the components out & stockpiling for the layout here & the 101 uses i will have as structures go ahead.



The fence post...


  1. Looking good Rod, We could do with a couple of these on Argyle to replace some of the damage that occurred during our move in November 2010.

    I am tasked with building a new stock loading facility and was planning to scratch build one using scale lumber. We have the lumber and the plans but I am still searching through the toolbox for a "roundtoit". I just can't seem to find it!

    Maybe I should postpone the construction until you have lasered up some sections. That will save a lot of tedious work for me.

    Happy stockkeeping,

    John Proctor

  2. John...

    Well you know the drill...tell me what length of fence & we will do it... But you have to put the kettle on...

    Give us a tingle & we will tee up something this weekend if nothing happening...

    As for the stock races etc....we need all the input we can get to decide on a prototype for release...So start finkin


  3. John,

    I just membered...you were going to start the stock race etc when i came to live in the big G....Hmmm what happened???


    Rod (Lazy2)

  4. Rod

    The fence looks very nice, I like the idea of the corrugated iron version. I made all the parts including weathering the corrugated iron several years ago (many) for the old cream coloured shop opposite the hotel at Wollar but I never got around to installing it. Put both versions on the market.

    Ray P

  5. Ray,

    Thanks for the comments. There are a couple of things i want to explore before we rush to market. They are...

    I would like to be able to market an assembly & gluing jig to make the assembly more easier than it is now...It is a simple process but a jig would help those that have a lot of fencing to do.

    We will probably offer this included in a bulk box...or as a one off sale that can be used over & over again

    This brings me to the next issue & that is how much to pack per pack???.... In reality the sets will have to be shipped in a box with at least the fence rails in a protective tube & to this end i have researched a unit that will fit the bill.

    On top of this as stated are packing boxes, packing material, pack notes & marketing label for the box.

    So...indeed with with these unavoidable overheads we still need to offer bang for bucks...true value. I see the ability to pack a quantity to surround an average home. Time will tell...

    On a positive front we have added some baltic birch sheeting to our pending order of timber & as part of this shipment we have been able to secure stock of 1/64th 3 ply sheet...What this means is that we can get the paling panels closer to scale thickness & increasing inherent strength... the down side is that it is double the price of basswood...but the sheets are bigger so we can get more from a run on the laser & that should even things up.

    So there you have it... no use releasing until we can streamline the product & pricing...i have been promised our order of sheets no later than 20th July ( Yanks are in the midst of 4th July silly season )...so not leaving till next week. In the meantime we can concentrate on the jig ( probably laser cut acrylic ) & getting the packing right so when our order arrives we are ready to go...

    BTW this birch may be a factor in the stock race/yard going forward

    Talk Soon

  6. Rod

    I like the look of the fences & certainly am interested in some, likewise the stock race idea.

    A suggestion for how much to put in a pack would perhaps be to consider the old sized block of land that was part of the Australian dream of a house & land, 1/4 acre, if you did enough fencing that would take in such a block of land would be a good start.

    While my measurements may not be spot on, I am thinking that the old blocks of that size came in at around 75 x 160 in size, the 6 foot fence ran 3 sides, one for the rear & 2 sides, the angled fence towards the front would often stop at the main building line which is app 20ft from boundary, often the would be a short timber & chain wire fence along each side from the angled paling fence & ran to the front boundary with a similar fence along the front, with an iron gate to the footpath & for the garage driveway.

    Certainly others had the paling fence all along the sides to front boundary. You could market them in single packs for the 3 boundaries, or a multi pack of the same type or even have enough for say 3 blocks, meaning 4 sides & 3 rear lines.

    Colin Hussey

  7. Rod
    Yes, paling fences are so typically Australian. I have some plastic ones made by (I think) Micro Engineering in the USA but the palings, although looking quite realistic have a gap between each paling. Yours would be very useful for my work on Maryborough (yes, I know it's Victorian but paling fences are the same Australia all over). I have a house or two which need fencing so I would be interested in yours should you go commercial.
    I would suggest a minimum of one yard per pack.
    The other problem is how to have a paling fence on a slope? The mind boggles at the thought of have each paling just that little bit higher than its adjacent paling thus needing individual gluing.
    Roger Lloyd

  8. Roger, All

    Thanks for your input on this project. I can state here that they will be released around months end. I have taken delivery of the tubes that will hold the fence rails & have ordered the packaging boxes to hold the entire kit.

    The kit notes are underway & the box lid label is almost there.

    As said elsewhere the only sticking point is the wait to assess the birch wood in lieu of the basswood & this will not arrive until somewhere around the 20th July

    As for slopes... when assembling the test components to ensure all was well & evaluate the model i found that when the posts & rails were assembled ( but not glued ) it was possible to create a slope where everything stayed paralel, by moving the first & last post in opposite directions it was then possible to fit each paling panel which was in vertical plane & indeed create a slope. The only down side is that even though the posts & panels were completely plumb the rails were angled in relation to the posts & that made the simulated nail holes in the palings not line up with the rails...not readily obvious...but it may irk some. The other method is to assemble a span individualy & step the fence either up or down the desired slope.

    As for quantity...it was stated by Colin that a typical 1/4 acre block of fencing may be the way to go & even though we are sometimes restricted by layout size & have to sometimes compress things...that quantity sounds like a good starting point.... either you will have enough or need more???....There is no perfect solution.

    Anyway i will post on the blog when the kits are ready for sale.

    Regards & Thanks Again for the input


  9. Rod

    Do you have a ready address for your items or a non blog email please.

    I like the look of your bridges & I know its not possible to satisfy every modellers whims however, I would like on that has no under supports for a creek crossing bridge.

    Another thing with selling a yard sized set of fences, that is enough for 3 sides, its always possible to obtain one full fence line while an add on section, being enough for one side & one rear. For the modern modeller the old 1/4 acre blocks would mean that a two set would be enough for at least 3 yards owing to the cut down blocks of today.

    Roger, fences are another interesting topic, & when we had a house in QLD, the fences there were either lapped over, with no gaps or instead of the mortise in the middle of the posts, they were a cut out & the rails run on the outside & showing a continual fence of pailings, as against the old NSW style of both blocks having the posts visible likewise the QLD fences had straight cut tops.

    In NSW, the old hardwood fences had a nick of each paling top, although that is changing these days.


  10. Colin,

    Email contact...harlow@harlowgraphics.com.au


  11. Rod
    Do you have any paling fence kits still available, or do you make them to order? I am after about a yard (metre if you must be modern)!
    Roger Lloyd

    1. Roger,
      Thanks for your message. The fences are still a little while away. With limited time available we are concentrating on the Cream Shed, Coal Stage & Bridges. The fences will see the light of day this year & will feature on the blog as progress continues.

      Rod Kelly

  12. I did not realise that paling fences may not be paling fences :)
    Or more properly Victoria and NSW differed so much.
    Down here you cannot see the posts on the paling side and we have three rails.
    The posts would need to be notched so that the rails are flush on one side, and the boards are two different widths. The wider board a spaced a few inches apart the smaller board overlap both boards and fill in the gap.
    I guess I would use as much as 30 real feet on my houses as I am only modelling the rear or rail side of my houses as viewed from the train.
    And so Rod, should you add Victorian fences I certainly would want a bulk pack or three :)
    However I do understand how difficult cottage industries are to fit into everyday life
    Love your crossings by the way, and look forward to your cattle race and over bridge
    Rod Young

  13. Hi Rod are these fences available yet?
    thanks Peter

  14. On FaceBook Rod has mentioned that they are on a back burner whilst other stuff is worked on. :)
    Rod (another one)

  15. Hi Rod.Do you have a release date on the paling fence please? Regards Peter

  16. Peter,

    Several factors have conspired to force this project to the backburner. Presently we have 4 various kits ready to go with all release notes and packaging complete. We are now awaiting a shipment of basswood from the US to satisfy our programme for the next 12 months or more...we placed our trust in an existing importer last October ( expecting a November arrival...only to find that as at late April...he has not placed said orders ) and it has proven to be a costly mistake in our attempt to support him....we would envisage arrival and release to be around third quarter 2014, once the backlog of restocking existing kits has taken place. This info is not much help for those awaiting the range...but that is the short answer. I have been at pains to explain that Laser Rail Bits is an adjunct to a very busy day to day business and as much as we do our best...sometimes that in itself is not good enough.


  17. Am interested in the paling fences.please let me know the cost and if you have a mould for sale as well
    Regard DON