How to Make Conifer Trees in N-Gauge

Written by rachel moon
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How to Make Conifer Trees in N-Gauge
Create realistic N-gauge model railroad scenery from simple materials. (carpathian railroad image by Kostyantyn Ivanyshen from

Crafting an N-gauge model railroad scene requires precision and an eye for detail. N-gauge trains are small, scaled to 1:60 the size of a real train. Creating the illusion of realistic landscaping can be a daunting task, especially if you are working from scratch. However, if you choose to make conifer trees in N-gauge, you can save the expense of purchasing factory-made scenery and add your own personal touch to your layout. All it takes is a few supplies you probably have around the house.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Bamboo cooking skewer
  • Razor knife
  • Brown marker pen
  • Green scouring pad
  • Plastic bag
  • Rubber cement
  • Small scissors

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  1. 1

    Cut the pointed end of the skewer to an inch longer than the height of the tree you are making. The pointed end is the top of the tree; the other end is used to mount the tree in your scenery base.

  2. 2

    Scrape the edge of the razor knife along the skewer lengthwise a few times to add a random shape to the round trunk. Drag the tip of the knife gently over the length of the skewer to add a three-dimensional quality and simulate bark.

  3. 3

    Colour the skewer with the brown marker pen.

  4. 4

    Shred the green scouring pad into irregular triangles between 1/4 and 1/2 inch. Pull the pieces apart to make them lighter and less dense, so you can see through them. Use a piece of paper to catch the fine scraps of scouring pad material. Set the triangles aside.

  5. 5

    Coat the top two-thirds of the skewer with rubber cement, all the way up to the point. Leave approximately an inch of painted surface free of rubber cement. Hold the skewer by the base and turn it while sprinkling some of the finely-shredded scouring pad material onto the trunk.

  6. 6

    Apply the triangular-shaped pieces of scouring pad material to the trunk randomly. Place the smaller pieces at the top and the larger pieces below.

  7. 7

    Cut any loose strands of material and shape the tree, remembering to keep the overall look random and natural.

Tips and warnings

  • N-scale trees should generally be 4 to 8 inches tall. Use taller trees in the foreground and shorter ones in the background to give the illusion of depth.
  • To make a tree appropriate for a winter scene, colour the trunk first with a brown marker. Then go over it lightly with a grey marker to fade the colour.
  • Instead of using a marker to colour the tree, try using speckled faux-stone spray paint in grey or brown. This is especially effective for foreground scenery.

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