In this video Martin Tarnrot demonstrates how to make model trees from scratch, specifically, a miniature oak tree. He pulls inspiration from the oak trees on Avery Island, which are excellent eye catchers for a layout. The trunk and branches are made from .07 millimeter steel wire. Martin cuts them into ten inch pieces, twisting four wires together three times and then twisting them all together at the bottom. This creates a miniature oak tree with one trunk and three branches coming off. He inserts two bent steel wires to each new branch, so he can maintain the thickness of four wires throughout the miniature oak tree. The final step with wire is to cut off excess pieces and bend them slightly down on the end.
The glue Martin is using is a PVA glue from SikaBond, though Elmer’s all purpose glue works well also. He brushes on this glue over the entire miniature oak tree and covers it with Chincilla sand. This creates a coarse texture and hard surface to the tree that he leaves to dry overnight. Das modeling clay is an air hardening clay which works well to add thickness to both the trunk and the branches. Martin uses this clay to carve realistic bark patterns on the tree. When the clay is in place he sprays on some water and smooths everything with his fingers for easier engraving the details on the miniature oak tree later. Watch the full video to see how he adds these details. For more tree making techniques or tips on creating black spruce trees, visit the Model Railroad Academy archives.