Tree Making


Paul Templar
The need for tall timbers on my 0n30 model railroad set me thinking as to what I could use to represent these majestic 
trees. I had used in the past, asparagus fern, which I found to be very brittle, as even the slightest knock would damage 
this delicate fern. So, I looked around for another material, which wouldn't break so easily. 
An artificial flower specialist came up with the idea of using a plastic type fern instead of a dried fern. The only 
problem with this fern was in fact that it was a little thicker than the dried fern but looked ideal for making trees with. It is 
called "Plumose" (Well its called that in the UK anyway) and is light green in colour. Anyway, I bought some of this 
plastic fern, made a tree, and then added on some woodland Scenic medium green flock, using a cheap hairspray 
as an adhesive. 
The outcome, not a bad representation of a tall timber tree. The basic material for the tree trunk, is 1/2" and 3/4" 
diameter Balsa wood dowel. As these dowels come in approximately 3 feet lengths, two can be made from one 
length of dowel with the 1/2" but the 3/4", you will only get one out of it. The rest of it can be used for logs.
Most artificial flower specialists can order this fern for you. They come in boxes of 24 (and are not at all expensive. 
(Photo #1)

shows just one stem out of 24.You should be able to make quite a few trees out of the branches. 
Tree One (Plastic ferns)
After cutting one length of Balsa dowel to the desired length, you will need a rasp to shape it, to represent a tree 
trunk. (Photo #2) 

with a balsa dowel after being rasped (photo #2a) with the rasp I use and (Photo #3) 

shows one stained. I tend to make around ten tree trunks at a time, after all have been suitably shaped, I stain them 
with "Dark Oak", and as soon as I have stained the trunk, I wipe the trunk with a cloth, this gives the highlight to the bark 
effect. All that's needed to do now is to let them dry.
From the plastic artificial fern, cut off quite a few of the leaves, and leave a little of the small stem on, and lay them on 
your workbench.
You will need small ones for the top of the tree getting larger as you progress to the bottom. 
I tend to group them in order of size, so as to be ready when I start to glue them to the balsa dowel. When you think you 
have enough of the fern cut and your dowels are dry, a start can be made on making the first of many trees.
The only tools required are a pair of small scissors, a tube of contact cement and a small 1/32 drill bit, to drill the 
holes or the ferns to be glued into.
Now, starting at the top of the tree, drill a hole three-quarters of the way through the dowel, and add a touch of the 
glue into the hole, pick up one of the small ferns and insert the stem into the hole. Turn the tree trunk a quarter turn, 
and approximately a quarter of an inch lower and repeat the sequence. (Photo #3a)

Keep on doing this all the way down the trunk. (Photo #4) 

showing a tree partly finished. 
Don't forget to increase the size of the ferns as you go down. I tend to use the small sizes for three or four turns of 
the trunk, then increase the size, then another three or four turns later, I increase the size again and so on until I reach 
the part I don't want leaves anymore, only the trunk to insert later.
Trees using "Ming-Fern"
I had bought from a florists some dried Ming-fern to use as bushes, Photo #4a, 

I had placed the balsa tree trunks on the floor, and was working with this fern to make small bushes when part of the 
fern broke and fell to the floor. It landed across the tree trunks in such a way that it almost represented a tree as it 
was. I stood looking at this strange and wonderful new tree that had appeared as if by magic, and thought, what 
would it look like if I glued tiny branches of this fern into the balsa dowel. So I set about inserting the fern into the tree 
trunk in the same way as I had done with the plastic fern. Small pieces at the top, getting larger as I went further 
down the tree trunk. The result was fantastic to say the least. The tree looked very nice and full unlike the other fern I 
had used. It also didn't need spraying with hairspray so didn't need any ground cover over it. These trees mixed in with 
the other type looked just about right.

The tree on the right is made using "Ming Fern" photo #5

Now then, - what else would make a different kind of tree!. Hmmm.