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From etched brass... to a Tree

John's method

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A friend recently saw our new Photo-etched Bare Tree Frames and graciously agreed to build-up a few samples for us to display. What we eagerly anticipated as a "few samples", turned out to be a spectacular group of small dioramas that our photographs don't do justice. Pictures of these stunning little trees can be seen by clicking on the Examples buttons next to the products on our Photo-etched Bare trees page.

The friend? His name is John McCarthy. A long-time hobbyist, who's expert N-scale modeling skills have produced some of the finest conifer trees (Douglas Fir, Hemlock, Pine, Spruce, etc.) we've ever seen. Truly amazing! For another look at John's talent, be sure to check out his Limited Space Layout in the May/June 2004 issue of N-Scale magazine. You won't be disappointed.

We spent some time going over the procedure he used to build-up our trees and have reproduced it here as a guide to help you easily and quickly make trees. With a little practice, you should be able to build a incredibly life-like tree in about 15-20 minutes of your time.

Here's how to make a tree... John's way:

 

 

2008 Ngineering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to Bare Trees
Since we'll be working with etched parts in brass frets, the same basic work area preparation will apply as is outlined in the How to links for our other Photo-etched Products. Most of the same cutting and bending hand tools will be used, but there are a few additional aids that will simplify the tree making process. These are:
  • Bamboo skewers - inexpensive and found in packs of 25 or 50 at most supermarkets.

  • 2 or 3 wooden blocks approximately 1 foot long. Any size will work as long as we can drill a few holes part way through. These will be holding fixtures for trees (on skewers) while they're drying between steps.

  • MonoJect #412 curved tip plastic syringe. We now stock this item as our part number N4310. It can be found on our Other Cool Stuff product page at $1.85 each (a very competitive price, I might add...). This item is optional, but will greatly simplify the process.

  • Plastic dish or container - 2 or 3 pieces, roughly 6" or 8" round or square about 1" or 2" deep (any reusable/cleanable container will do). Used for flocking and static grass - only needed if you're performing these steps

Some supplies needed for making our trees are as follows:

  • Acrylic latex caulking (gray color) - available at any hardware or building supply store. A good example would be Alex Plus brand Interior/Exterior Caulking. It's very inexpensive and one tube will be enough... forever (even for your club's projects too).

  • Unscented hair spray - the pressurized can type (creates a much finer mist), not the "environmentally friendly" pump type. Very inexpensive at any drugstore.

  • Spray can of (medium to dark) gray primer paint (Krylon Dark Gray Camouflage, for example)

  • Spray can of Krylon Dulling Spray, or Testor's #1260 Dullcote (the Krylon is much cheaper).

  • Choice of colors of acrylic or latex paint for tree trunk and limbs, as required.

If you plan on adding foliage to your trees, there are two methods:

Flocking: (typically, ground foam) AMSI or Woodland Scenics products are available in most hobby shops. The AMSI foam is ground a bit finer. Both are good and have a decent variety of colors.

Etched Foliage: Check out our Etched Foliage products here or select it from the Photo-etched Products page. Adding this product to our larger tree frames (such as the NS041) will produce dramatic realism. These products are also excellent to improve plastic tree armatures and those made from wood cuttings.