Scratchbuild a Fence

With all the value and danger in the bone yard, it’s no wonder it has to be protected by a good fence. Of course this is a simple detail that you can use in many other places around your layout as well.

Fences come in many styles. For this project, we’ll build some common chain link fencing and top it off with a coil of barbed wire. To build your fence, you’ll need a few simple materials and tools:


A simple chain link fence provides security for our bone yard. You can make one for industries on your layout from simple materials.

  • Wire (14 gauge solid, 24 gauge solid, thin filament (use stranded))
  • Screen
  • Spray paint
  • CA Glue
  • Soldering Iron
  • Wire cutters
  • Utility knife
  • Nail

The skills needed to build these fences are not difficult, though you may find it takes some practice to get the look you’re after.


fence posts

The posts are nothing more than wire. You can either build the frame in place on the layout, or on a jig at the workbench.

The fence posts are made from 14 gauge solid wire. Strip the insulation off of the wire and use pliers to make it as straight as possible. Cut the wire to a length of about 3 inches. You’ll want the wire a little longer than the height of the fence so that it can be anchored in the ground.

If you are adding the barbed wire to the top of the fence, make a bend about 3/8″ from the top.


Add the rest of the frame for the fence from thinner No. 22 wire. This will be used to make the gates as well.


The rest of the frame is soldered into place. Use alligator clips to help hold everything in line while you work.

You can either glue or solder the wires to the posts. In either case, you may find it helpful to cut a small notch in the post so that the frame is seated before it is fastened.

You can assemble this flat on a workbench in a jig, or build in place. Alligator clips help hold everything in place while you solder or glue.

To make the gates, the horizontal fence rails were simply extended past the last post. Additional vertical and diagonal frame posts were added from the same wire. Once the fence is complete, it can be bent into final position.


Ordinary window screen makes a good material for chain link fencing in O scale. The best source is an old window screen that needs replaced as the material is already stretched and it’s free! If you don’t have one lying around in the shed, a new roll of the material can be found in any hardware store for a few dollars.


Window screen makes a great fence. Use a straight edge and sharp utility knife to cut it to shape.

Lay out the mesh and cut it to size with a straight edge and a utility knife. The size of your fence is up to you, just remember that 1/4″ equals 1′. So an 8′ tall fence would be 2″ tall. Length of course is also completely optional.

Adhere the mesh to the frame with CA (cyanoacrylate adhesive). If you are using a fresh roll of screen, you may have some trouble getting it to lay flat. I found the best solution to this problem in my pockets – a little spare change is the perfect weight to keep the screen flat without pressing it too hard.

Barbed Wire

coiling wire

Winding thin wire around a nail is a fast way to create realistic barbed wire.

Now for a detail that is really sharp, a coil of barbed wire for the top of the fence. To make the wire you’ll need very fine wire. You can find what you need in many places – phone cable or individual strands of stranded wire will both work well and are easy to find.

Strip the wire and cut it to lengths that are easy to work with. You can always piece multiple sections together if necessary.

To create the coil, simply wrap the wire around a nail or dowel. Then pull the coil off and stretch it out to the desired length.

Attach the coil to the top of the fence with glue or solder.



A double coat of rust and silver creates a nice aged look on the final fence.

Put the finished fence sections in a scrap of insulation foam to hold it while you paint. Spray paint is the only way to go with a fence like this. Try not to spray the paint directly on the foam as it will melt.

Fences come in a variety of colors. Some are coated with vinyl and are often a dark green. Others are unpainted. Silver works well for new fencing. For an older look, spray the fence first with a rust colored primer. Then apply a light coat of silver over top.



The finished fence adds a lot of detail to overall scene. The “NO TRESPASSING” sign by the gate warns, “Survivors will be Prosecuted”

Carefully press the finished fence into the foam scenery base. Apply a little more ground cover to blend everything in and then lock it all in place with some diluted white glue.

Once the glue has set, gently bend the gates into the open position. Add signs or any other details and your yard is secure!

One response

20 09 2013
Ronald Dombrowski

Thanks for the info. Sounds, looks, easy enough.

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