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How to scratch build manhole by Luc Po

A tutorial on how to create a manhole or sewer cover for dioramas from scratch using basic materials by Luc Po (Vancouver, Canada).

How to scratch build manhole by Luc Po
Photo 1. This tutorial describes how to make manhole or sewer covers for a diorama from scratch. While these can be purchased as photoetch or resin products, this is a relatively easy way of achieving a similar look for practically no cost.

 

How to scratch build manhole by Luc Po
Photo 2. For this example we are making the cover for 1/35 scale. The materials needed are wire mesh, a thick metal foil such as that from a tea candle, and a coin that is similar in diameter to the cover we wish to make. The important part is for the coin to have a raised lip along the edge (red arrow). In this case, a U.S. dime is quite suitable. (I did try a Canadian dime, but there is a fine dot pattern inside the raised edge that spoils the result. If anyone knows another suitable coin, please suggest!)

 

How to scratch build manhole by Luc Po
Photo 3. Step one is to burnish the foil flat if necessary, and also to sand with fine grit sandpaper (2000) for improved paint adhesion, as you will not be able to sand it later.

 

How to scratch build manhole by Luc Po
Photo 4. Tape the foil (sanded side facing out) to the wire mesh to avoid movement, then imprint the pattern of the mesh into the foil by burnishing with a wood tool as seen. (This could possibly be used to create non-slip surfaces in other metal pieces).

 

How to scratch build manhole by Luc Po
Photo 5. Once the pattern is imprinted, remove the mesh, and tape the coin to the back of the foil.

 

How to scratch build manhole by Luc Po
Photo 6. Flip over, and burnish the raised edge of the coin onto the foil. Be careful not to disturb the imprinted pattern in the centre of the coin.

 

How to scratch build manhole by Luc Po
Photo 7. Separate the cover with a blade or similar, and clean up the egde as needed.

 

How to scratch build manhole by Luc Po
Photo 8. A different pattern can be achieved using a finer metal mesh.

 

How to scratch build manhole by Luc Po
Photo 9. Drill holes as appropriate for added realism.

 

How to scratch build manhole by Luc Po
Photo 10. The resulting manhole/sewer cover that can be painted and weathered to your preference.

 

Text & photos by Luc Po

 

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