The Cheapest Technique For Making Model Trees – They Look Great Too!

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Making model trees cheapest quickest techniqueI go full Blue Peter for this tip.

It won’t be for everyone but if you’re looking for an almost free and very quick and very easy technique to make trees for your model railway hard to beat.

And in true Blue Peter style, I’ve got pictures of ones ‘prepared earlier’ that show how good the trees made with this tip can look.

So without wasting more time that you could be spending on your layout let’s get going.

Look at the trees around you.

Those with leaf growth.

What’s noticeable, or what I noticed and it forms the cornerstone of this tip, is that on trees in full leaf bloom the branches aren’t visible. They’re hidden under all those glorious green leaves.

The branches aren’t visible.

Think about that.

As the branches aren’t visible all that’s needed to create trees then is a trunk and something that looks like the foliage growth.

The trunk is easy and I’ll come to it in a jiffy.

For the foliage, we need a material that can be shaped into the crown of the tree and holds this shapes without branches.

For this, I’ve used my old friend the kitchen or bathroom sponge.

Take a dark green one and cut into the shape of a tree. (One of the best things about this tip is that that can make pretty much any type of tree just by carving the sponge to the shape of the required).

It’ll probably take a few tries to get it right but it’s surprising how good it looks with relatively little effort.

Now for the trunk.

I’ve written before about using twigs for tree stumps but it’s this tip where they really come into their own. As can be seen in the photo below, they look fantastic as the trunk for these model trees!

Look around your garden or neighbourhood for them. (I’ve had some odd looks when caught kneeling in the gutter of a local alleyway picking up twigs — the things I do for this hobby!).

For best results find twigs with a slight taper and ideally with collars of old shoots that have broken off. For N scale, twigs of about 2 inches in length are best, three to four inches for OO and HO and six inches upwards for O scale.

Now skewer the sponges on them, sharpening the end of the stick to help it push through the sponge.

That’s it — the majority of the “planting and growing” is complete.

It really is that easy!

Making model trees for N and OO gauge model railwaysTrees created at almost no cost, quickly and easily. Compared to the faffing around making trunks and branches from wire and then sticking on layer upon layer of scatter suggested in other guides, including several on this very blog and it’s much quicker.

As for cost, it’s an old sponge and a twig! Compare that to £4 or £5 per tree in model shops!

As promised, here’s a photo of some I made earlier. Now, where’s my Blue Peter badge….

No one will miss a bit of bathroom sponge so go and make a glorious tree now and send me a picture when you’re finished.



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  1. Oh my giddy aunt, how simple is this technique, I’ve spent a fair bit on ready made trees of the Chinese origin via a certain auction & although they look nice visually, they do look very plasticy.
    Thanks for the great idea.

    • Glad you like it Andy. It is remarkably simple, effective and so cheap. Really pleased the results. Have perfected the technique a bit more since this post that makes them even better. I’ll post an update shortly. Andy.

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