Modelling Frames

From DT Online

EB1911 Carpentry Fig. 34 - Half Timber Construction

Lengths of Stripwood can be joined together by gluing card triangular Gussets over each joint. Typically these are glued each side of a Butt Joint or in-between an over-lapping joint.

Complex frames (e.g. for bridges, roof trusses or timber framed buildings) can be drawn out full-size and the frames assembled over the drawing.

Material Preparation
Making Card Triangles These are cut out from medium card, and are used as Gussets to join together pieces of Stripwood by brushing on PVA glue. A useful size is 30mm x 30mm which can most easily be marked out using the width of a wooden ruler as a guide.
Cutting Stripwood Thin strips of Softwood or Jelutong, most commonly 8mm square but also 10mm and 12mm square, provide an easy to cut and glue material for modelling (e.g. using a Junior Hacksaw and PVA).

A small Clamp-on Vice holds the work-piece firmly whilst it is sawn. Older children may be able to hold Stripwood firmly enough against a small Bench Hook as they saw it to length.

2D Frames
Basic Frame Construction Squared paper or graph paper can be used to mark out simple rectangluar frames (e.g. for a vehicle chassis) and used to mark out and cut pieces of Stripwood to length.

Lay the pieces over the drawn rectangle and glue Card Triangles over each joint to reinforce it. Turn the frame over and do the same on the other side.

At each stage, you may wish to add small weights on each joint to keep the frame still and keep the triangles in place as the glue dries.

Setting Out Frames More complex frames are built in the same way and can be started by making a full-size drawing. Once again, using squared paper or graph paper will help to keep the drawing accurate. Alternatively, the design can be produced on a computer using CAD software then printed out.

Covering the drawing with tracing paper or greaseproof paper will help stop glue sticking to it - alternatively, rub soap or wax on to the drawing around each joint location.

3D Frames
Assembling 2D Frames Always try to think of 3D, box-like structures as a series of flat frames joined together and make these first.

It is almost impossible to build a 3D structure all in one go - everything wobbles about too much! Use spring-type Clothes Pegs or Bulldog Clips, for example, to hold frames together until the glue dries.

Timber Framed House This technique is ideal for modelling buildings and similar structures - especially traditional Timber Framed Buildings.

The use of Dragon Beams can be modelled and upper storeys made to project over the ground floor to create Jetties. These increased space in the upper floors and provided some shelter to the lower walls.

Note: When the Great Fire of London started at the Pudding Lane bakery of Thomas Farriner 2nd September 1666, one of the reasons the fire spread so quickly was the closeness of the wooden Jetties to those of the buildings opposite. As a consequence they were banned in London after the Great Fire

Old Wool Hall in Levenham, Suffolk [[Lavenham - Old Wool Hall HouseFrame4.png

DT Online Buyers' Guide

Safety Point! Take great care with hot glue guns and all hot-melt glues. The melted glue can stick to the skin and cause severe burns.

Junior Hacksaw Hobby Vice Stripwood Balsawood 200gsm card coloured 300gsm card coloured Cutting Mat 10mm Squared Paper pva school wood glue Glue Gun bamboo split cane sticks natural
Junior Hacksaw Clamp-on Hobby Vice Stripwood Balsa Wood Medium card coloured Thick card coloured Cutting Mat 10mm Squared Paper PVA glue Glue Gun Bamboo Flower Sticks


  • Choose metal cutting hacksaw blades - the teeth are small which suits this scale of work and they are safer for young children
  • School PVA glue is best for young children because it is non-toxic and washes off : PVA Wood Glue is strongest but must be used with care.
  • Try to get natural Flower Sticks or wear gloves because the green stain comes off on hands!