Making a Medieval Wooden Bridge

Medieval Wooden BridgeThis article explains how to use our [product=TRUSS-01|bridge trusses] to make a medieval footbridge like the one in the image to the right. There's a larger image of the finished bridge at the bottom of the page.

Note that we also sell [product=TRUSS-02|trusses to make a larger bridge]. If you are using the larger trusses you will need to increase the various dimensions given below to make your bridge.

Also note that our bridge trusses are laser cut from 1mm MDF and are designed to be used stuck back to back in pairs to give a 2mm thickness to all of the "beams". Note when gluing that the trusses that they have a front and back face (the edges have a slight angle where they are laser cut), so they should be glued back to back.

Four other measurements to note (for the small trusses used in the bridge shown here) are:

  1. The gap between the posts is 30mm; so the card strip you cut to make the walkway needs to be a fraction under 30mm wide.

  2. The "posts" for the side rails project 15mm above the "beam" on which the walkway sits.

  3. The distance from the bottom of the "beam" on which the walkway sits, to the bottom of the truss (the waterline), is 15mm.

  4. The distance from the bottom of the truss posts (where they'll touch the ground/river) to where the diagonal support beam begins to project is 5mm.

Wooden Bridge TrussesThe latter two measurements are important for determining the height of the bridge above your river. As you will see later, we "sank" the trusses a couple of mm into the materials from which our river was made. Alternatively we could have trimmed them before assembly. Should you be interested in having trusses with longer legs, please contact us as we are always interested to hear how we might modify our products to better suit the needs of our customers.

How to Make The Bridge

The first step in making a medieval wooden bridge is to cut a length of thin card. We used the card from a breakfast cereal packet. The strip should be just under 30mm wide so it will fit onto the bridge trusses.

Now lay the strip across your river or whatever you want your bridge to span. Make allowance for the ramps at each end, cut the card to length, and decide how many trusses you need.

Medieval Bridge Walkway

The image above shows such a strip after it's been cut to length, scored with plank lines, and given a coat of caramel coloured paint (the whole bridge will ultimately be finished with washes of brown ink).

The walkway now needs to be reinforced by gluing strips of balsa wood along the edges as shown in the image below.

Medieval Bridge Walkway

Note that notches have been cut where the top of the ramps meet the main walkway. Chamfers have also been cut at the ends where the bridge will meet the river bank.

The next step is to attach the bridge trusses (paint them first) to the walkway. These are allowed to set solid before thin strips of card are measured, cut, and added to form the handrails.

As previously mentioned we base-coated our bridge with caramel coloured (in most cases it's easier to apply this paint prior to assembly), and then applied washes of brown ink to the completed structure.

All that remains is to add the bridge to your scene. In our case the river was made from aluminium foil stuck onto Styrofoam (the aluminium was then streaked with diluted blue ink and gloss varnish). Thus we were able to puncture the surface where the trusses met with it, and attached the bridge using two part epoxy glue (which was also used to make the ripples, along with a little white paint).

Here's a larger shot of our finished bridge:

Medieval Wooden Bridge

[product=TRUSS-01|Bridge Trusses] are available in our [catalogue=0001|online shop].

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