Making Model Railway Trees

The English countryside is full of trees and that is no different at Hintock. So a successful model layout will have trees, and the successful modeler will have a technique for making model railway trees 0f various colours, shapes and sizes as they add so much to the scene. Being an ex-pat and away from the UK now for over 20 years I am always surprised by the photographs I see in magazines of the English countryside how profuse the vegetation is.  Particularly now I live in a semi-arid desert like place where much is in shades of brown.

DSCN3066 - Making Model Railway Trees

The lush Dorset countryside of Hintock with all the verdant vegetation illustrates the need for model railway trees.

Rarely do they stand alone nor lined up like soldiers on parade and more often in clumps. It is that whole scene I have attempted to capture in and around the small town of Hintock and in the lush Dorset that I remember. I do not attempt to model particular trees or species. As in all my modelling they are but representations.

I hand make all mine and the basic materials are unstranded wire cable for the trunk and branches and Wooodlands Scenic materials for foliage’ Here is a little about my tree making endeavours, this image shows a ‘tree’ in the first stages of being formed and the tools employed. (Note: this wire cable in being unstranded reveals how sharp the wire ends are-so care is needed.) I hold the cable with one pair of large pliers and unstrand with the other and finish with the smaller and snips.

DSCN0001_01making model railway trees, tools and supplies

A model railway tree taking shape, with tools

Experience, and patience will show how individual branches can be formed, larger at the bottom smaller toward the top, and how at their ends they can be splayed out onto which the covering material can be added. It is useful to form some trees with flat rears so they can be placed against a back scene and it is better to do this in the early stages. Other full ones can then be made for placing toward toward the front.

I find it more convenient to make them in batches and in the summer when I can sit outside in the shade and quietly enjoy the day. In this way I have a selection to choose from and get the right tree in the right place for it.

DSCN0001_02 Making Model Railway Trees Wire unstranded and painted

Three model railway trees unstranded for branches and painted

This shows three tree trunks spray painted and ready for finishing, the one on the right is wearing its vest of paper towel that obscures the cable forming the trunk. This is only really required for trees in full view. The finishing touch is to add the Woodlands Scenic material well teased out and applied in layers and in small pieces.

To secure them I drill holes in the top surface of the ‘ground’ and in which the trees can be secured. Arranging them satisfactorily is an art in itself and usually only achieved by trial and error.

An example of my trees and their placing is this is the opening image and of course, others elsewhere.

The trees are inexpensive to make, look the part, but do require a little patience and application in their forming. And , of course, if doubt go and look at real trees.


  1. […] does John’s Dorset look so real? It is partly his expert use of trees, which John makes himself and which enfold the scene just as they do in the Western Vale of Dorset. […]

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