Why Didn’t I Think Of This Earlier – DIY Sawdust

Creating SawdustIf you’re creating a railway that feature a wood yard or forest you’ll love this tip.

I’m a recent Thrifty Thursday tip I covered how to create authentic tree stumps for railway embankments.  At the time I mentioned using Yellow scatter to recreate the sawdust around the felled trees. Since then I’ve been experimenting to find a more realistic sawdust and wood chipping effect.

Why Didn’t I Think Of This Before

Having spent ages testing different scatter materials, coffee granules and other materials I’ve now find the ideal material and I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner, hopefully it’ll save you some time.

Simply grab some twigs and a scalpel blade and scrape the twigs. Collect the scrapings and that’s your sawdust.

It’s literally that simple.

I scratch off the bark layer first as this is too dark for my preferences but the inner wood produces just perfect miniature chipping and saw dust.

As said elsewhere, I’m working in N Gauge so I use a sharp scalpel in short swipes that produces the results to a scale I want, for larger sizes use a bigger knife – a craft or Stanley knife – and increase the length of the cut to increase the scrape size.

The results look great and best of all it’s free!

I’d love to see you results if you use this or have an alternative technique.

> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.

Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of modelrailwayengineer.com. 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.
  1. Why not use real sawdust? A few cuts with a circular saw through a restpiece of MDF (the thicker the better) give a wonderful result…;-)

    • Job, thanks. Sawdust can work however it’s then the internal colour of the wood and lacks the darker colour of tree bark which I feel adds to the overall look. Also, when I tried this, the real sawdust was fractionally too big for scale sawdust – although it works great as ballast – could work for OO or HO though.

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