Question Trees, trees and more trees, I need to make trees

Reptilian Feline Nov 7, 2020

  1. Reptilian Feline

    Reptilian Feline TrainBoard Member

    I need to make trees for my layout, mostly oak and elm, and I want to model spring, so the foliage isn't too dense. I can't really buy anything right now, so I'm looking for alternatives. As autumn is descending on Sweden, most weeds I might be able to use are gone. I had hoped I could spend the winter making some trees, but started to look for materials too late in the year it seems. Tiny tree saplings might give nice roots for making the tree branches, except the ones I found didn't have the right profile for the trees I want to make.

    I have some dense foam I'll turn into scatter, and some felt in different colours that might work as well. I'll have enough for experimentation.

    I need some ideas for the trees, what have others used to make trees from scratch? I know about the way to turn a wire into a tree by dividing the strands into thicker and thinner branches.
  2. rray

    rray Staff Member

  3. zdrada69

    zdrada69 TrainBoard Member

    You can also make naturally looking trees using materials like Noch 23100
  4. ubiminor

    ubiminor TrainBoard Member

    I remember reading that you had experience making jewels.
    The wire twisting technique may suit you.
    Two tutorial videos.

    For Z scale you can use multi threaded electric wire.
    Any elastic putty material will work for smoothing the surface.

    For foliage, you cannot beat the ready made flocking materials.
    However here is how you could do it starting with foam.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2020
  5. Joe Lovett

    Joe Lovett TrainBoard Member

    I like to use Nandina seed pods for my N scale trees. During the winter is the best time you can find the bushes around landscape near offices, shopping malls and parks when they are dried out. They have red colored berries that can be easily removed and then use various colors of foliage material attached with Elmers white glue to complete. Other times of the year they are too green to use.

  6. Reptilian Feline

    Reptilian Feline TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for the tutorials!

    I've never been a huge fan of bottle brush trees.

    The wire trees from electric wire are very nice in larger scales and if I was doing summertime, they would be what I would do. I'm not sure I can make it work for springtime in Z... I need some very fine electric wire for that, with enough strands to make the finest branches. I might have to do those anyway, but I'm hoping I can stick to springtime and not push into summer. The trees have so many more colours and densities in spring.

    Nandina... I googled it. I haven't seen it here in Sweden, unless someone has it in their garden... and I can't go into someone else's garden and ask for the berry stalks. I can see why it's recommended though. Those stalks look like nice basic trees, but will need to be used for more summer trees, not springtime.

    I have some nice flower stalks that could work, except the profile is all wrong. I'm modelling Yorkshire, not the African planes. There isn't enough material to reshape to look like an oak or an elm.

    I used to pull up weeds when I was little, and look at the roots and think to myself that they looked like trees without leaves. I know what weeds they are, and they are out of season right now.

    I'm not sure glycerol baths for plants work that well when they're dead for the winter and all dried up. Any experience in that regard?
  7. SMR

    SMR TrainBoard Member

    Dirk and I only use the wire trees, and we make and use a lot of them.........





    Thus, highly recommended for Z-scale !!!


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  8. SMR

    SMR TrainBoard Member

    And don't be tempted to make them too small...(y):);)



  9. SMR

    SMR TrainBoard Member


    a good example of the proportions.

    Hope this helps,

    Best, Sven
  10. Reptilian Feline

    Reptilian Feline TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for the lovely pictures, Sven!

    I have looked up the size of an ordinary elm and came to the conclusion that it would be about 13 cm tall on average. One of the things noted in several texts are that trees are usually too small.

    I think I need to have a closer look at electrical wires. :)
    SMR likes this.
  11. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Member

    Look for 'fine' multi-strand wire (insulated). ~18 AWG (1.3mm) would have typically 7 strands of #26 (.6mm). But there is wire that is very 'flexible', sometimes Silicone insulation or some electrical product connection cables. They would have something like 21 strands with maybe #38 (.14mm).

    Solder about 1"/2cm from the end, solder all the strands (about o.5"/1cm). The 1" end will be roots, if you want to be detailed.
    Cut the wire about 4"/10cm. Start spreading the strands, in several wire bundles, about 3-5 bundles. I use a dental pick (not your fingers ;)
    Solder again about .5" and then split up more bundles, solder again and then spread again.
    It will look like that YouTube video thumbnail
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  12. mdvholland

    mdvholland TrainBoard Member

    A nice and comprehensive tutorial can be found here (intended for N/h0 but useful for Z):

    SMR, Kurt Moose and Reptilian Feline like this.

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