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Scenery making fir-trees

1 april 2013

Scenery making fir-trees for a scale model railroad track

Scenery making fir-trees step by step in H0 scale 1:87

On each scale model railroad track the scenery is a very important fact. Model trees can be purchased in a shop or self-made. The big benefit of self made trees is that the tree becomes more realistic and the price per tree is lower. Besides trees there is more needed for a good scenery such as bushes and grass. Many different fibers are available to make a nice and good looking scenery.

It is possible to buy very good model scale trees in the right dimensions but for a 100 or more trees it will become a very expensive thing especially for the larger trees. Most of the trees that you will find in a shop doesn’t have a very realistic outlook and the shape is very static. It doesn’t mean that you cannot purchase some of those trees but it is better to find a good ballance between self-made and purchased. The best looking scale model train tracks are completely made with self-made trees so with this we try to help you step by step in this world of self-made products. Try it yourself and you will be surprised.

On the Rosenbahn most of the trees are self-made trees, also because we need around 2 or 3 hundred of them in different dimensions and colors.

Due to the fact that Rosenbahn is surround by a mountain view the majority of the trees are fir-trees. Only in the lower areas like the villages and industrial areas we add decidouos trees.

The work description of the fir-trees follows here below. 

The work description is an easy and simple step by step description how the make a fir-tree.  Finally you will discover that is not so difficult to make a complete forrest but it is only very time consuming.

For the dimension of the scale model tree we have to look very good to the dimensions in the real environment of the tree types. On a scale 1:87 the highest tree will become 30cm en the lowest around 8cm. It is also simple to make some tree stumps which suggest that some forestry takes place.

The needed materials are:

  • Balsa round wood in several thickness to vary from  1,5 – 0,8 – 0,5 cm
  • Thin wire nails ca 3 cm
  • Flower binding wire green or galvanized.
  • Hot glue gun with glue sticks.
  • Das Clay or Latex paint mixed with some fine sand and fine cork.
  • Water
  • Brown acrylic paint (or a bottle of pigment to add to the Latex paint)
  • Basin fiber filter material. (can be find in each garden centre)
  • Wood glue diluted with water.
  • Acrylic paint
  • Spray glue Bison or 3M
  • Different green fibers.
  • Cleaning alcohol or cleaning benzine and cotton swab for removing glue from the trunk.

The needed tools are:

  • Stanley knive
  • Emmery paper or emmery cloth
  • Carpenter pincer
  • Side cutter
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissor
  • Small stirring wood
  • Paint brush
  • Airbrush gun and compressor
    Step 1
    We start to make the balsa wood rods in the right length. This goes very easy with Stanley knife, because Balsa wood is a soft material. Next step is making the balsa wood stip conical to the top using emmery paper. The sanding dust can be used later so we store it.

     Step 2

    Cutting the head of the wire nail using the Carpenter pincer. We put the wire nail in the core of the balsa wood tree-trunk by pressing it gently. Next step is fixing the wire nail with the hot glue.

     Step 3

    Make straight parts of the flower binding wire and cut them in lengths varying from 10 to 4 cm. This wires will become the tree-branches.

     Step 4

    We adjust the tree-branches trough the tree-trunck to get on both sides the same length. We start with the lower branches (10cm) en goes upwards with shorter wirers. Now we get a nice an realistic base of branches all around the tree-trunck from bottom to the top. In the top we press gently a small wire.

     Step 5

    Now we use the hot glue gun to fixate alls the wires (branches) to get a strong tree and the branches will no move anymore. Fixating can also be done with a Cyano Acrylate glue which cures in seconds.

     Step 6

    First we make a mixture of clay, water, paint or pigment en sawdust. Also possible is a mixture of Latex colored with brown and black pigment mixed with fine sand and fine cork (this mixture is advisable when we make trees with a big part of the trunck without branches. It can be needed to make the clay mixture a day before application to be sure that clay absorbs the water enough to make it soft. With the wooden stiring stick we stir as long as needed to get the right texture which can be applied with a brush on the trunck. Don’t make the mixture to fluid.

    Step 7

    With a paint brush we add the bark mixture to the Balsa wood tree-trunck and the flower binding wire and let it dry. If needed apply one or more extra layers.

     Step 8

    We make small strips of basin fiber material by using the scissor. Add wood glue to the tree-branches and apply the filter material. Let it dry very well.

     Step 9

    After it dries completely we start airbrushing the complete tree with a brown or dark green color. We use an acryllic airbrush paint. We add a final brown layer to the tree-trunck by using the airbrush.

     Step 10

    We apply now careful spray glue on the filter material. Try to avoid spraying glue on the tree-trunck because we have to removes this. Immediately we start to scatter the green fibers or flocks over the wet glue. Do this above a clean box, so dispensable material can be used again. Let it dry (few minutes) and shake the tree softly above the box to remove flocks which doesn’t stick in the glue. Now we add the small cotton swab in the cleaning alcohol or benzine and remove left over glue with flocks from the tree-trunck (needles or leaves doesn,t grow on a tree trunck)

    Trees are now ready to use in your scenery. Use making trees different nuances in green to make the scenery not to monotonous.

    Making small details, like a broken tree-branche makes everything more natural.

     Alternative methode:

    With this methode de branches are only on top of the tree which you see many times in a forrest especially with pine trees. Up on the Tree-trunck some old left overs of branches are visible as short knots. We make the knots bij pressing gently the wire nails through the balsa trunck. In this example we have fixed the flower binding wire with Cyano Acrylate glue (Loctite 401). Dries in seconds but pay attention that is also stick to your fingers in seconds.

    The bark paste mixture is now made of latex paint with brown and black pigment and some fine sand and cork added to it. The tree-trunck looks now more natural especially with the long part where now branches will come.

    The basin filter fibers are dark green colored with the airbrush. After drying we followed the same way of adding the green flocks to the fibers. The longest trees are 25cm.


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