Dig A Swimming Pool

A swimming pool is certain to add interest to your layout

A swimming pool is not something you see on every layout. Lighted from below, it attracts your attention immediately, and it is so unique that I gave it a central location on my layout. The people you see in the water are 1:48 scale white metal figures by Arttista. The people standing around the pool are1:43 scale by Preiser. But you really don’t have to build a large community pool to use this technique. This method can be used for a backyard pool, a fountain or any rather large body of clean water.


This swimming pool is easy to make, but will probably take a couple of days to construct.

What You’ll Need

  • foam core board
  • glue
  • a sheet of blue translucent acrylic, slightly textured
  • a small white LED or light bulb
  • heavy card stock
  • poolside figures
  • poolside graphics

Prepare the Site

For this pool, cut a rectangular platform 4″ x 6″ (scale 16′ x 24′) from foam core board. Cut two walls, 2″ x 6″ and two walls 2″ x 4″ and construct a box on top of the platform. In the center of one of the long walls, make a small hole for the bulb. Place the platform on the layout board and mark the dimensions. If you cut slightly smaller than the dimensions, you can glue the box underneath your layout board. Hold it in place with tape while the glue dries; the foam core is not very heavy. Alternately, with accurate measuring and cutting, you can glue the foam core box inside the opening. You don’t have to worry about small gaps, they will be covered with a heavy card stock pavement. Cover the entire opening with the blue plastic sheet.

Pave the Pool Area

Cut heavy card stock to make the pavement around your pool. Cut an inner opening the size of your pool. I would make a the outer dimension a minimum of four feet (one inch scale) for a home walkway or up to six feet (3/4″ scale) for a commercial/public pool. Twelve feet (3″ scale) makes a good-sized area for sunning. For finishing details, For the finishing touches, add figures, a cooler, beach towel graphics, a fence, and wooden decking,. Then pour yourself a Mai Tai and enjoy your new pool.


Stack some Firewood

A stack of fire wood is a simple detail that can be repeated in numerous places on you layout, and yet they will never be out of place, and it will never seem like there are too many. A stack of fire wood works nicely beside any residence, a campground, or an outdoor business, like a produce stand or flea market,

The best looking fire wood is made of real wood. There are two criteria I look for a natural wood twig to use for firewood. First, a tight grain and second, an outer layer that looks like tree bark. A tight grain is necessary so the the cut wood retains its solid, wood-like appearance. Some twig varieties will fray or split on the ends giving an unacceptable appearance. The second quality is a nice outer bark. Not only should the outer layer look like actual tree bark, but it should not fall off when it dries.

I have found three plants varieties that produce tight-grained non-fibrous twigs with an outer layer that resembles tree bark. The three varieties I recommend are:

  • Maple
  • Dogwood
  • Azalea
The twigs of the Azalea and Dogwood have an amazing looking bark that looks very natural and to scale.

Once you’ve selected the wood, use a jig to cut it to length. Wider pieces can be split, just like real wood. Use carpenter’s glue to stack and secure your woodpile.