Pine Trees the hard way

Discussion in 'Scratchin' & Bashin'' started by Glen Haasdyk, Jan 7, 2007.

  1. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    I've noticed a fair amount of threads for deciduous trees but not much for pine trees. Over the Christmas break (I had a week off) I started to experiment with making some. The Materials are cheap. It works out to a couple cents per tree but I have to warn you, they are time consuming. It takes me about 10 minutes to make a tree. So let's begin:


    First we have to make the trunk. I use cedar from a local cedar shingle and shake company. I just went into their office and explained what I was doing and they let me go through their scrap pile. A cedar shingle is about 12" long and slightly tapered. The nice thing about them is it's easy to split. I took my hatchet (never though you'd use one of those in MRing!) and split the shingle until I had sticks that were slightly wider than the pine tree trunks I was trying to make.
  2. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member


    Next I took my razor saw and cut the 12" tunks to different sizes. I ranged from 7" to 3" but if you want to make monster 12" trees the principles here are the same. After cuting to length, I took my carving knife and rounded the trunk and tapered the end. Cedar carves very easily and even though you wittle it, it still keeps a rough edge that will represent bark on the completed tree. Abouve you can see the sart and finish of the trunk carving.
    Oh yeah, don't worry about the curves or inperfections in the trunks, If you look at a real pint tree, the trunk isn't always perfect either
  3. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member


    After carving and tapering a number of trunks I stick a pin in the bottom of each. This gives me a handle to work on it later and a mounting pin for when they are 'planted' on the layout. Insert the trunks into a piece of styrofoam and lightly overspray them with flat brown paint. Try to avoid coating the them completely or you'll lose the bark detail.
  4. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Sorry about this next picture, it's a little blurry

    Now here comes the fun part (read time consuming) Branches are created using a dried plant called Caspia. Caspia can be bought at a local craft store. I bought a bundle for I think 7 bucks and it'll make at least 50 trees. The caspia is on the left. To attach the caspia, take a small drill in a dremel tool and drill a series of holes starting at the top of a trunk and going down to about 1/2" from the bottom. Remeber to randomly turn the trunk so you will have branches all the way around the tree. Next Add Caspia sprigs in the holes starting small at the top and larger as you go down, using white glue to attach them. Work carefully with the Caspia, It's fragile and the tiny flowers on the ends will represent the foilage on the tree.
  5. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member


    On the right is a tree with all the caspia branches attached some branches have more foilage than others but most real trees are like this as well. To add the greenery, spray The braches and foilage down with cheap hairspray (the cheaper the better) then sprinkle Woodland Scenics fine ground foam down on the branches. I use the green weeds package. This makes the Pine look alive with green foilage as you see on the left.
  6. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Here's a couple pictures of the trees planted on my layout:

    Trees always look better when planted in groups of three or more. I haven't finished the ground cover completly in the picture. I'll be adding some broken branches and brush on the ground. When you've striped the caspia of the flowering parts save the rest for your ground cover, it looks like broken branches on the ground.
    The dead tree on the left was stained grey and had caspia branches with all the flowers removed

    That's it. I usually make abot 10 trunks at a time and then drill and set the branches in about 1 or two in an evening. That way it isn't so tedious and tiring.
  7. Relic

    Relic Member

    Just the way I like stuff, easy{ish} and cheap. Looks good Glen
  8. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Thanks, I'm considering adding a caspia sprig vertialy off the top of the trunks to it doesn't look so stark, any suggestions?
  9. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Glen, those are some nice looking trees. Thanks for posting the tutorial. The area I am going to model has mostly hardwoods, but it does have a few pines here and there. I've seen pines done with circles of air conditioner filter skewered on a pole, but I like the looks of yours.
  10. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I agree that the top of the tree does look a bit sparse. While the lower branches are often widely spaced, the top of the tree usually has a denser bunch of branches - almost solid greenery.

    You might try a denser bunch of caspia, or switch plants and perhaps try a different material for the top. Astilbe, sedum or some other plants (there's one in particular that I know to see, but the name escapes me right now - see pictures of it here:

    Have you tried anything to make the trees a little more robust? Would dipping them in glue or boiling them in glycerin help? I have not tried either, but do need some "hardy" trees for some modules I am working on...

  11. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Other trees that I have made are have denser caspia on them. The Western pines (like ponderosa) are pretty much uniform in their foilage from top to bottom. I haven't tried making the caspia any more robust but then again this is my home layout and once they're planted they probably won't be touched for awhile. One my next ree I'm going to put the caspia going off the top, probably by flatening the point to where I can get a drill bit into the trunk without butchering it.
  12. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    Sorry no picture but I've experimented with the top on the tree. a few things that I have tried to make the top look a little fuller:
    1) a a caspia sprig in the top of the trunk and add the green foam on it.
    2) sprayy the top on the trunk down with hairspray and add green foam.
    3) add coarser foam on the top.

    All of these work but the caspia sprig in the top looks the best. The coarse foam on top look a little out of place.
  13. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Thanks for the update Glen... can you get us a picture at some point? :)

  14. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    it'll come sometime in the future since I don't have a digital camera.
  15. Shoogar

    Shoogar New Member


    As a newby :wave: to this forum maybe I can give some additional hints...

    Best plant, I found to build such trees is "statice tatarica".
    I used it to build some large scale pines (1:20) for our family creche.:D

    There´s a great how-to by Rick Ludlow in the www:

    I started at the bottom to fix the branches.
    I found it easier to reach the stem with the drilling - tool and a better way to arrange the branches.
    Not randomly but in series of 6 branches each row down to three or four at the top of the tree, depending of the diameter.
    The tip I made of a small piece of caspia with one or two single branches at the sides.

    If you are abled to, fix the place where the trees will be planted before you start to glue the branches. At any time you can control whether the shape of the tree fits or not.

    Instead of hairspray, which didn´t work, I used thinned white glue, which I sprayed from both sides to the branches (don´t spray against the middle, green trunks don´t look very naturally :D).

    After glueing the foliage I re - coloured them with strongly thinned dark grey paint to give them different shades of colour.

    happy treeing... :D


Share This Page