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Product Review

Archer Fine Transfers - Surface Details #12

"Wood Grain Texture"

By John Ratzenberger

Basic Item Information


Wood Grain Texture

Stock Number



Archer Fine Transfers


1/32, 1/35, 1/24 and similar scales


Resin printed on Clear Decal Film (Water Slide)

Kit Contents

2 X 4 sheet of usable treadplate

Retail Price

$14.95 USD


John Ratzenberger

Review Date

December 17, 2007




Photos 1-4


Photos 5-8


Product Review

Bottom Line Up Front:

The Archer series of Surface Details are very useful, but for wood there are better options.


Archer Fine Transfers have released a series of nifty surface details that are resin detail on a decal film.  These are applied like decals then painted over.  This is great for weld seams, panels, rivets, fasteners, etc.  Two of their newer releases are wood grain, both "normal" (this review) and "weathered" (AR88011).

These come in a small envelope with a header card and set of instructions.  One thing to not take literally is the instructions to "apply under paint" -- they really mean to "paint over them" ... else I've got this whole review wrong ...  The actual sheet of decals measures 2-1/2" x 4" -- in 48th scale, this is 16' long; in 35th it is 11-2/3' long.  If you are trying to make boards in 1/35th, you may have a lot of wastage or short pieces -- not nice at $15 a sheet.

First, I've provided photos above showing the real thing - in this case treated lumber on the decks of my house.  Photo #3 shows the back deck, less than a year old -- note the lumber is pretty smooth.  Photo #4 shows the side deck, many years old, exposed to sun, wind, rain, salt air, etc, all day long.  Photo #5 is a photo of the decal sheet in close-up.  I am unsure whether this is meant to portray "gullies" or "ridges", but in any case the shape just doesn't seem right.  My worn decks appear to be flat planks with "ridges" and the new wood of course has neither gullies nor ridges.

I took a sheet of plastic and laid down a simple coat of wood color and some gray just so I could see the decals on a painted surface.  I then cut the decal sheet into 1/35th scale 6" wide planks and some odd shapes.  These do not cut easily - I use a razor blade on glass and I had to cut several times to separate each piece.  I moved onto a softer surface and it went better but I think any sort of intricate cutting will be difficult.

The decals went on nicely, whether the surface was painted or not.  They come loose in water very quickly, so don't do many at a time -- you do not want them to roll up on you as they break up easily as you try to unroll them.  I tried them with just water and with Micro-Set/Sol and they worked fine either way.  Once applied they can be moved around without breaking.  I did find that once laid down, the ends could easily be trimmed with a razor blade so you can trim edges neatly and not worry about exact alignment.  I do recommend you blot them dry to ensure they stay in place, so if trimming, you might not want to go the Micro-Sol/Set route.

With the decals on and dried overnight, I painted over them with a few wood colors, then did some dry brushing just to see what it looked like.  Note that I took some care to lay my "planks" like my deck, but the effect would be hard to achieve without being much more deliberate in the lay-down as well as scoring the underlying surface or some highlight painting.  There was no adverse reaction to acryl or enamel paints or to a shot of Dull-cote.

The black color of the decals is a bit much to overcome -- I suggest that Archer consider using a wood-tan color.


Although I like Archer products in general and other items in the Surface Detail line, I do not think this set gives you a realistic representation of wood.  The detail is not only too thick but overly busy (the other wood set, weathered, is less so).  I'll stick with my collection of hobby woods such as balsa, basswood, aircraft ply, etc, and even simple painting techniques -- they are more realistic and much cheaper.

Thanks to Woody Vondracek and Archer Fine Transfers for the Review Sample

Copyright: John Ratzenberger - December 17, 2007