Castle Diorama IV: Timberwork and Stone Walls


Continued from Castle Diorama III: Dungeon Interior

Now that the dungeon below the castle is finished, I have worked a while on the castle itself, a half-timbered building in the courtyard and on the rails below.


One of the first things to attend to after gluing the top layer of the cliff on was the entrance to the dungeon. I had cut a hole matching the curved fieldstone pieces and the curve of the staircase, but I wasn’t sure on how to make a closeable passage to the underworld.


The solution was to make a square frame of thick balsa wood, emulating heavy timber. Later I will build a couple of hatches to be able to close the passage. I’ll need to figure out a way to make small model hinges, so they can withstand being opened and closed for photos.

Suggestions on how to do this are more than welcome… 🙂


After painting it brown and drybrushing it with a lighter brown, I glued it into place and added small pieces of styrofoam to fill the remaining holes.  Later the ground cover will hide the seams and blend the whole thing together.


Since one of the points of building this diorama was to be able to display my growing collection of narrow gauge rail vehicles, especially from the Fleischmann Magic Train range, I thought it was about time to lay some track as well. 🙂

The track above comes from Peco and is 0e gauge meaning that it is in 1:45 scale with 16,5 mm between the rails. It has been spraypainted with a dark brown as a base colour, onto which I’ll add some rusty colour to the rails.

As a track bed I used some cork from a set of table mats bought a long time ago. Then the painted rails were glued on top. Then I began cutting wood from coffee stirrers, collected at various cafés, to create the crossing of road and rail.


After ensuring I had enough strips to make the crossing, I painted the strips a medium brown and drybrushed them with a lighter brown.


At that point, I couldn’t keep my attention off the castle any longer, so I began to work on the tower. In the otherwise excellent Hirst Art molds, there were no curved arch for the tower, so I had to create my own from a straight arch.

It’s still not really curved, but I think it’ll play its part once the tower is completed.


As the height of the castle walls were rising, I got the idea to place a half-timbered building leaning on the long wall. Above you can see part of the open foundation for the building.  My inspiration came from David Macaulays excellent book Castle, which I read about a million times as a child. In his book is a great drawing of a half-timbered house, where the lower part is open for use as a stable.

With the lower part being open, more of the courtyard would be visible from the “dungeon-side” of the diorama.


Still inspirered by Macaulays drawings, I made supports for the upright beams. Near the fieldstone wall I placed a large board to help carry the supports for the floor.


It was quite easy to file the soft balsa wood away to make the whole thing level.

The large timbers are not glued to the fieldstone wall, since I would like to be able to remove the building when painting the castle walls.


Then I began gluing on supports for the wood, made of square wood, possibly pine.


When that was done, I glued on the lower part of the upper, half-timbered floor. Now the floor boards can be placed, but before I begin constructing the half-timbered structure, I’ll look at a number of images to get an idea of how the German woodwork could be constructed in a realistic way.

Do you have any suggestions on where to get inpiration?


So far I have cut the first four floor boards before realising that I’d better write about my progress so far on this blog, before I would get too far. 🙂

Above one of my new half-way painted French figures from MK-35 is observing the progress.


Here is a view of the whole thing so far. As you can see, I have also begun working on a door to the tower, which will be closed off from view.

Seen from below, the castle is already beginning to be an impressive sight. I am a bit worried though, that the castle might be too big in the end, but time will tell. 🙂


In the lower part of the image above, you can just about make out the partially complete road crossing.


And finally, a view from the “dungeon-side”.

There is a lot of work to do still, but it is a great feeling seeing it all slowly take shape on my workbench.

For now, the focus is on the half-timbered house. It really is a lot of fun working in real wood trying to construct a somewhat realistic building.


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