Build your own Camp Tents for Model Railroads, Civil War Battlegrounds or Role-Playing Games! The instructions and photos given were created in ¼” scale, meaning, ¼” would equal 1 foot in the real world. You can use the same construction process to build in any scale you desire.
Note: Click the image to left to enlarge
1. I cut my center posts and rafter to the size of the tent I want.
I use flat boards for my flooring and more solid strips of wood for the main posts and rafters and beam. I like to use bass wood versus balsa just because it is stronger.
2. Glue two “T” shapes together, these will become the main beam and posts for your tent. I use ACC glue, the thick variety, it comes in medium and thin viscosity.
3. Stand the two “T” pieces upright and glue your beam in between the two upright posts. Now you have your first free standing piece.
4. Place four upright posts on the corners, these pieces will be half the length of your main posts. I use a spritz of glue accelerator to speed up the drying process.
5. Cut cross beams that attach the short posts to the long posts.
6. Lay your tent framework on its side on top of a strip of beam wood and make your angle cut marks with a pencil. This makes it easy to find your angle. I use a utility blade to cut the angles, cutting on a plywood board.
7. Glue in place using ACC glue and a spritz of accelerator. This will cure the glue instantly instead of holding it in place for a few seconds.
8. Place your tent framework upright and sand off any wood that may be extending out with fine sandpaper if you desire.
9. Cut flat strips of wood to span the width of your floor. Run a thin line of glue along the base where the strip flooring will go. This way you won’t have to glue each piece individually. Its also much easier to place them with tweezers rather than your fingers.
10. Build a short porch in the same manner as the floor and attach at the end of the project.
11. Lay your tent armature on its side on top of inexpensive artists sketch paper and trace an outline. I start with the entry and back side of the tent first
(Pads of this paper are inexpensive and can be found at crafts stores or some grocery stores. It’s thicker than copier paper and has a rougher texture and sags realistically like canvase when wetted as you’ll see in a later step of the construction process.)
12. Place a fine line of glue along the wood where the paper will go. Less glue is better, you only want enough for the paper to stick when pressed onto the wood.
13. For the entryway, use your utility blade cut a vertical slit in the paper “canvas’. Using your fingers, delicately roll the paper to make an open flap into the tent.
14. Lay your tent on its side now and trace the outline and carefully roll the tent along the paper and trace until you have one continuous long piece of paper for the top and sides of the tent. Glue to wood as before. Cut off excess paper if there is any.
15. Mix half water and half white glue for the canvas overcoat. Paint this on the paper until it just begins to become saturated. Do not paint too much in one area or else the paper will weaken too much and you might poke a hole right through it. You will notice the paper will sag realistically, and after it dries, you will have neat stretched canvas areas. While the tent is wet, you may want to press on some small patches of paper “canvas”. I like to mix a bit of dirt in my glue and water mixture to get that dirty appearance but you may also dry brush on dirt or chalk after the tent is dry for weathering. You can add details once dry, like a pot belly stove, crates, a bed roll and tools. Don’t forget to glue on your porch when done. Note: these tents look great if they are illuminated with a small bulb or LED, or even a tiny flickering flame bulb found online or a hobby shop.
2 thoughts on “Model Scenery: How to build a work camp tent”
Thank you very much for the detailed tutorial on how to setup a camping tent, I really appreciate your time writing this article and the photos which made your guide very easy to follow.
Ìs there measurements for what you cut your wood planks, uprights etc to be? If it’s here I just don’t seem to be seeing it. I understand the scale but I don’t have the actual measurements of the original to downsize the pattern. Please help