Trees around lumber camp at Timberly
A sample of model railroad scenery

 

 

 

MAKING TREES

 

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There are almost as many ways of making trees as there are model railroads with each producing a unique type of tree.† The method explained here is for making the type of pine tree often used for lumber.† It is hard to understand that to be truly scale these trees should be two or three feet tall, not a mere twelve to eighteen inches.† Proof of this are pictures of old time logging operations where three, two or even a single tree occupies the logging cars used to ship them to the sawmills.† Here again we must use a bit of imaginative compression and perspective techniques to build a forest.† This is how the Tress surrounding the North Riverís Timberly Lumber Camp will be built

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Start Here


Balsa wood used for trees

The first step in making pine trees is to round up some various sizes of balsa wood What you will actually need depends on how you populate your forest. You will only need a few really large trees for the foreground, about twice as many to give your forest some depth and twice that in smaller tries to fill in the background. I used a total of five different sizes.

 

Foliage


Air fern or plumose used for trees and shrubs

You are also going to need something for the foliage. Air fern or plumose work quite well in most cases. A good source of material is Regenboorg Dried Flowers

 

Start Here


NRT_Trunk_Sand_05S

Each tree begins square as shown on top. This is sanded down to a roughly round diameter with a coarse (50-grit) sandpaper (More about tapering the trunk later.) The next step is to score the bark using the teeth of a modeling saw. The final step will be to apply the initial coloring. I use dry-colors with a bit of varnish and thinned to provide more of a heavy stain than an outright paint.

 

Creating the Taper


Create the taper by holding the trunk flat against a work surface and sand to an even taper as shown at top. Do not be afraid to press down and sand in both directions. Sand in one direction toward tip as the trunk approaches the final size, as shown. Hold the trunk in one hand and gently move sanding block against trunk to finish the tip. Note that the point is exaggerated here for clarity and should look like bottom two trunks.

 

 

Semi-Finished


Here, the black area represents the work area. Keep the trunk tip just inside the edge and roll back and forth while sanding taper down.
 

 

Finishing Tip


Another view of the final shaping of the tip. Remember that the taper shown here is exaggerated. The idea is to reduce the trunk diameter as much as possible and still be able to poke a hole through for the uppermost branch and taper the trunk to a point from there. The -crown- will be built in this area (see below).

 

These are what we are making

NRT018

 

Height

Diameter

Foliage

18 in

5/8 in

8-12 in

15 in

1/2 in

10-12 in

12 in

3/8 in

8-10 in

8 in

1/4 in

5-7 in

6 or less

3/16 in

full length

Trees ready for assembly

NRT025


Another view of a batch of trunks ready for assembly. Note the slight variations on the trunk colors and textures. This is to be expected in nature and will be further highlighted as trees are installed.

Holding Block


NRT009S

 
 
Before we go any further I would suggest building some kind of holding block for your workbench. This will keep damage to trees to a minimum and save a lot of walking back and forth to the layout.

 

Waiting to Plant


NRT010S

Just cut off a 6 by 6 inch chunk of wood (or whatever you have laying around) Then cut the heads off a few pins and stick them in with some pliers about two inches apart and that is all you need.
 

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Model Railroading is fun in Connecticut.
Bob Van Cleef, MMR

Last update
07/23/2012