Model buildings with the EM2

As I said on my topic ‘1 year with my EM2’ I have spent a lot of time firstly getting to grips with the best materials to use with the EM2 and then in using these to my advantage in creating models. The first model I spent time working on was a platelayers hut, these were dotted all over the railway network here in the UK and using an existing drawing I was able to make up a little kit of card parts which produced a nice little model - the camera can be cruel, this is only 45mm long! 

The next model I wanted to build was of terraced houses. I spent a lot of time designing a row of houses using mounting board as a medium and established a form that worked for me. No pictures of these, they are still waiting to be completed. The next building that was needed for our model railway layout was a huge building of a cotton mill which were found all over this part of the UK, in fact in the town of Oldham there were over 300 of these producing yarns and cloth for the world around the early 1900s.

The cotton mill was really made up as I went along based on techniques learned modelling the platelayers hut and the terraced houses. 4 layers of card formed the walls, a bottom and top layer of mounting card and 2 inner layers of 0.5mm card. These were needed to get the representation of the relief shown on the brickwork of the prototype. Here is a photo of the completed model (and yes it took several months to get to this).

Here is a photo of the real thing which it is based on so you can get some idea of the size of such a building (and this is just the end). The engine house which houses the steam engine which drives all the machines in the building has yet to be built, that’s the next job!

Finally a picture of the mill in place (temporarily) on the layout at the Manchester Model Railway Society, UK.

This shows what you can do with a laser cutter using suitable materials. 

Hope this inspires others to have a go.


1 Like

very impressive,thanks for sharing,and the cutting data,always useful

That’s absolutely amazing work Ralph.

Hi Ralph,

that mill is absolutely stunning. Can You tell us more on how you achieved the brickwork? What base material did you use and what where your laser settings? In the last Picture ist loosk like the brick colour was painted afterwards, right?

I would really like to learn more.



Argh, nevermind. I just found the other thread next door. Stupid me.

Hi Jan,

Don’t worry, I had intended to just produce 1 post but I thought it worth writing about how 1 years use with the EM2 has worked out for me. 

As far as the mill is concerned here is a photo of it before it was painted. Off-white mounting card 1.5mm thick and yellow thin card 0.2mm thick. Primed with grey acrylic paint and then painted with Humbrol enamel Signal Red, 3 coats. After that it was weathered with MIG brown wash which tones everything down very nicely.

Thanks for your kind comments.


I have to confess to not posting my efforts on here for a long time but the email from Darkly advising of the revised community kicked me into action.

The EM2 has been used for railway modelling now for 3 years and it has been a solid reliable machine. Fans have been replaced and so has the air assist pump but otherwise the machine has worked extremely well and Lightburn has made a massive difference since switching over to it from Laserweb.

In terms of work produced the cotton mill show here earlier has been finished and is in place on our layout and several other buildings have since been made combining the use of the laser cutter and an Anycubic Photon 3D resin printer to produce detail parts.

All buildings are made using a frame of 3mm poplar ply faced with 1.5mm mounting board and then covered with a 0.2mm facing of card engraved with brickwork.

A factory under construction. Built the same way, ply frame with card overlay. The final painting being applied in this shot.

A bridge again made out of card.

A row of shops under construction. I passed the completion on to a friend who made a superb job of detailing the interiors.

All this was made so much easier and quicker thanks for the Emblaser 2.


I should have mentioned that all these buildings are modelling in 4mm/foot and fortunately I was able to design them all so that they fit on the bed of the Emblaser (just in one case by 2mm).

This is incredible, Ralph!

I’ve always wondered how model makers get such detailed brick work, engraved card makes perfect sense. Can I ask what you use to seal everything once you have finished?

Once again, amazing work!

This is really impressive attention to detail.
The Slattocks Motorcycles looks amazing.

Thanks for sharing.


Thanks Liam and Domenic for the compliments. One thing is certain, the Emblaser made this so much easier than doing it by hand.

This is a photo of the engine house of the mill being constructed. Where possible brickwork is engraved onto the mounting board, where that isn’t possible, like for the ends where bricks meet another surface, then a thin 0.2mm engraved card is butt jointed so you can match the brick courses. All brickwork is painted with shellac varnish as soon as it comes off the machine (sanding sealer is the same too but it should be meths based) .

If anyone is interested in learning more about these techniques I suggest you take a look at a couple of threads on the Scalefour Society forum where it is covered in a lot more detail, one covers the construction of the cotton mill and the other various other buildings.

Here are the links:
Alpha Mill
More buildings here from page 2
The Emblaser was also used to make the houses and the tall bridges on Pete Waterman’s Chester Cathedral layout which ran this last summer. Again, you can see more here if you want:

Pete Waterman’s Chester Cathedral layout

This has been a great machine and has helped us produce some brilliant models - thanks Darkly.