Early loggers used large saws to cut trees by hand, and they needed to be sharpened fairly regularly. Since this happened in the back woods before electricity was available, the saw filers needed an area with plenty of natural lighting to do their fine work. Every logging camp had their own saw filers car or shack, and as there were no standards, no two looked alike. What they did share was many windows. Some were actual railroad cars that moved around as the camp progressed into the deeper woods, while some were set on skids to be either dragged to a new location or mounted on flat cars. This kit is based upon a 1920s skid mounted shack used by the Minary Logging Company in Western Oregon.
RS Laser Kits offers this saw filers shack in N, HO and O scales. I assembled an O scale version as follows.
As the firm’s name suggests, the kit is comprised of laser cut hobby plywood and card material for windows, doors and frames. This card material has peel off backing covering adhesive underneath. Even the glazing for the windows is cut with a laser. Two lengths of ¼” square wood are included for the skids under the shack, and several lengths of wood angles are there for corner trim. The instructions state the modeler is to supply roofing of their choice, so I don’t know if different scale kits have different materials as my O scale kit came with roofing material. See photos 1 and 2 for kit contents.
I previously assembled one of the firms’ regular Skid Shacks; see my review elsewhere on this site. Wanting to keep the two shacks similar, I first stained the exterior walls with dilute Floquil Box Car Red. Since quite a bit of the interior walls and floor would be visible through the many windows, I stained them with Floquil Oak Stain. This would look better than the plain bare plywood color. I did the staining while the walls were still attached to their frames, making them easier to handle. I also painted the windows, doors, and trim with a light gray craft paint. It’s best not to get paint on the backing paper on the windows and doors, as it may make it harder to remove. (Photo 3)
When the paint was dry, I removed the walls and other pieces from their frames using a chisel tipped #17 blade in a hobby knife. The plywood is fairly thick and hard, so be careful when doing the cutting, sometimes making cuts from both sides is the best way. Sand or file off the leftover nubs on the pieces.
As per instructions, the windows are installed on the flat walls next, and they can take the most of the kit assembly time to do them right. There are many pieces to be removed, some will fall out, and some need to be cut with a new sharp #11 blade in a hobby knife. I found it was better to do the cutting from the inside of the windows and doors, as one could see exactly where they were still attached. Resist the urge to push out the window centers, as this can leave fuzzy edges that will need to be cleaned up with an emery board or file. These tools will be needed to smooth the edges of the pieces.
The windows in the saw filing room are double hung, meaning the top window is out farther than the bottom one, and either can be opened, sliding past each other. This is one of the neat features of this kit as it allows the windows to be realistically placed open or closed. The double hung top windows are to be glued in place first – up, down or part way – then the backing is removed and the glazing is pressed in place on the back of the windows. Here is where I ran into my first problem, the laser cut glazing was mostly too large to fit into the openings. I had to trim a sliver off one side and top/bottom of each so they would fit. Don’t force them into the openings, as the clear material can buckle and not fit in flat. Note there are two sizes of small glazing; some are for the separate windows on the side and end.
The skylight windows are all in one piece, so the backing can be removed and the glazing applied to them before they are installed. Here again the glazing was a bit too wide, and I needed to slice off a sliver on the sides of all the window material. I used carpenters yellow glue to fasten mine in the openings.
After the windows are all installed, the laser cut trim can be applied to all of them, and the doors can receive their framing and trim at the same time. I enlarged the small holes in the doors to accept heads of pins as doorknobs. Now to assemble the structure itself. (Photo 4)
The walls, floor and roof come neatly with tabs that fit into slots, making assembly straightforward per kit instructions. Some fit tighter than others, and may need a bit of sanding to fit properly. The tabs on the end walls on my kit were too long, requiring some material to be removed with a sharp knife. (Photos 5 and 6).
There is no mention of shaping the ends of the skids for the structure as in the previous skid shack kit I assembled. The photo of the kit included in the instructions show the ends squared off as supplied. I didn’t think this was suitable, so I whittled the ends in an upward curve so they better resembled skids. I used a sharp #11 blade to do the cutting, simulating wood shaped with an axe.
As I mentioned, my kit did come with some laser cut black paper for roofing material, so I cut and glued in onto the angled roof section. Trim pieces on the edges of the laser cut sheets were large enough to use as roofing on the skylight section. I darkened all of the edges of the roof pieces with a black felt pen, as they didn’t look right partially darkened by the laser cutting. (Photo 7).
The pre painted wood angle trim was glued to the corners of the shack and rear edges of the skylight area. (Photos 8 and 9). The kit did not come with a smoke jack, so I made one from pieces from a drinking straw. I placed a piece of metal on the roof where the jack would pass through, and drilled a hole to insert the jack. I painted it black and that more or less completed the kit.
But the completed kit looked way too neat and clean for my taste, so I applied some weathering. I applied a light wash of alcohol and India ink to the lower portions of the shack, and used weathering powder on the roofing material. Some of the powder was picked up in my fingers, and I rubbed the corner trim, windows and doors with it to tone them down too. (Photos 10 & 11).
There is such a large visible saw filing room in the front of the shack and it demands some interior detailing. Since I intend to do this later, I did not glue the skylight or two roof pieces in place. Such details would include the saw filers’ vice, workbenches, cabinets, a stool, and a rack to hold saws waiting to be filed or completed.
All in all, a nice addition to my collection of structures for my On30 empire.