There are many different methods for supporting hard shell scenery. Cardboard strips, chicken and screen wire, rolled up newspapers and Styrofoam. There are countless approaches to creating the initial support for the hard shell.
I have discovered one which I found easy, clean and safe, if a little care is taken. The method, cardboard strip lattice work.
Warning: Use care when using hot glue, this material can result in very painful burns.
- Cut a cardboard box and carefully into 1½” wide strips
- Hold a strip in the area to be covered with hard-shell to determine the length required (allow an additional 2”)
- Bend the strip 1” from each end to create mounting tabs
- Mount one end, followed by the other, to the layout using a stapler or hot glue gun
- Install a series of four or more vertical strips with about 3 to 4 inches between strips
- Cut a strip to weave in between the vertical strips (start about 4” from the top and continue until the area is filled)
- Fasten the horizontal to the vertical strips with a small drop of hot glue at each intersection
- Clamp the strips at the joints with spring clothes pins, only 6-7 clothes pins are required since hot glue dries fast and they can be removed and reused after a couple minutes
If the area is greater than two square feet, I suggest bracing the latticework with a scrap 1×2 to avoid a later collapse from the weight of the rock castings.
Have fun adding scenery to your layout, it is the ingredient that makes the layout come alive!