How to make model trees

Look at any good model railway layout and you’ll see trees. Here, in 5 five easy steps, is how to make your own trees out of objects from around your home.

Although not expensive, trees for model railways – such as these (link via Amazon) – cost money. Yet with a little effort, you can make your own from everyday objects at little or no cost.

And, over at Storm The Castle is a great tutorial on doing just this and which is summarised below into 5 simple, easy, steps.

5 Steps to making model trees

#1 Cut Wire

Make a treeCut several pieces of Copper wire from any standard house wire, a cable with a plug on it.

Each strip of wire should be a few inches long for OO scale; for smaller scales reduce the length.

#2 Twist and Shape

With pliers, twist these so they form a trunk and shape the wires at the other end into the shape required for the branches – see picture.

You’ll need two pliers to do this, holding the trunk with one pair and twisting the other strands around it.

#3 Paint the Trunk and Branches 

Use an enamel paint for metal and for realism using different shades around the trunk.

[Andy: Alternatively, you could cover the trunk in air-drying clay and paint this with normal acrylics once it’s dry]

finished tree#4 Add Foliage

Coat the branches in hob-e-tac adhesive (via Amazon) and then tear up an old kitchen sponge and fix this to the branches. Older kitchen sponges tend to fade so these can be used to add different shades of green to your trees to add realism.

[Andy: I wrote a separate article on how to make model trees from sponge].

#5 Insert and Admire

Once the tree is complete, make a hole in your layout; drop in some glue, insert the tree and step back and admire your creation. The picture(s) above are from the original article and shows just what’s possible using these five simple steps.

Alternatively, watch these videos I’ve picked on making three of the most common trees in the UK.

How to make the 3 most common UK trees – videos

Making a model Silver Birch tree


Making a model Oak tree

How to make model Aspen trees


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Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.

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