How to Make a Model Fir Tree

Why fir trees?

I think it is fair to say that modelling in all its forms is a creative subject.  The problem with creativity is it can be expensive and it can also be frustrating.  The frustration coming from having an idea of what you want to create but having no idea of how to bring it to fruition.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had an idea but lacked a solution and sometimes had a solution – something you’ve wanted to try – but unable to think how best to do so.  In this instance fir trees and how to make them became the solution to a couple of dioramas I wanted to do build but couldn’t get my head around how to make the relevant trees – until now!

The dioramas I had in mind both feature 28mm figures from the Last of the Mohicans.  I had a clear idea of how I wanted them composed but was struggling with the scenic side of things.  The first of these models is now complete and the second is not far behind.  I will post details of the first one over the weekend but in the meanwhile I thought I would initially share with you the making of these trees.

I’m sure for many of you this is not something new.  Little things please little minds and in this instance my little mind was impressed by the fact that this technique, as well as being a simple one, doesn’t even involve any glue!

I guess the best place to start is with an image of the end result, that way you can switch off now if you don’t like it or continue if you do.  So, immediately below a couple of finished trees.  These were my first trees.  They’re not perfect but they were simple and affective and with a bit more practice I’m sure I can achieve better results.

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So now onto how they are made.  To begin with you will require a few basic tools (pliers or small hand vice, a cocktail stick or similar, scissors a metal comb although you might get away with a plastic one depending the string used), some coarse string, the type that can be thinned out, some wire, hair spray and some static grass.

Step one

Cut off lengths of string about three inches in length.  The trees I made were for using with 28mm scale figures.  Depending the scale you use you may wish to cut shorter or longer lengths.  Having said that trees come in all sizes through their development so I guess you go with what you think looks best for you.  How many lengths you cut will be determined by how tall you want your tree to be.  I cut about 15 to 20 lengths in this instance.

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Step Two

Using the metal comb separate the fibres of the string for each cut piece (see to the left of the image above).

Step Three

Cut a length of wire, I used wire with a thickness of 0.5mm cut to a length of approximately 14 inches.  Fold the wire in half and place the two ends into the vice, I used a small hand vice but you could use pliers or something similar.

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Step Four

Take the combed lengths of string and spread them out between the looped wire.

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Step Five

Take the cocktail stick or similar and place it at the looped end of the wire (see below).

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Step Six

Holding the cocktail stick in one hand and the hand vice in the other start turning and rotating the hand vice and don’t stop until the wire loop where the cocktail stick is has become tight to the cocktail stick (see above).

Step Seven

Remove the cocktail stick and cut off the small looped bit of wire.

Step Eight

Using the scissors cut the string to shape the tree.  Fir trees are essentially triangular so you need to cut the string so that the top of the tree is narrow/pointed at the top and wider at the bottom.  If you want to thin out from top to bottom to get more of a Christmas tree shape between the branches you can.

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Step Nine (Optional)

Depending on the colour string used you may wish to paint it.  The string I used was a great colour so I didn’t bother.

Step Ten

Spray the tree with hair spray, any cheap strong hold spray will do, you could use sprayed PVA too if you wanted to I suspect.  Then sprinkle the static grass on.  You may need to do a few applications until you are happy with what you have done.  I would also suggest that you turn the tree upside down and do the underside first.  I also used a darker static grass for the underneath and a lighter one on the up side.

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Step Eleven (Optional)

If you want to have a lot of bark showing then strip back the string at the lower end of the tree and apply some filler or Milliput to create a tree trunk.  Alternatively you can just have the tree branches closer to the ground.

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Hopefully this all made sense!

As I said earlier, these were my first trees so certainly room for improvement.

TIM

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20 thoughts on “How to Make a Model Fir Tree

  1. Well, you’ve made that sound quite straightforward, and the results look very good, so thanks for sharing! If you could see your way to making about a dozen or so test trees that don’t quite meet your standards, I could give them a home! Do you reckon that, if the string was brushed upwards, it would be possible to make poplar trees the same way?

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    1. If you seriously wants some let me know, I’d be more than happy to send you some. As for poplar trees, got to be worth giving it a try. Can’t see why it wouldn’t work. I’ve been thinking what else can be made using the same technique and am still trying to get my head around it. I certainly think there is scope to do more than just fir trees.

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  2. I think you’ve got enough to be keeping you busy with your own trees, but thanks for the kind offer! I think I’ll give that a try myself, because it is, in theory, a simple method! Where did you get your wire and string from (sometimes these things are harder to find than you think they will be)?

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    1. It was new to me too but I gave it a go and was very pleased with the result and how quick and simple it was. Have since done a couple more which I think are an improvement so like most things practice makes perfect. The required tools are basic but the key I think is to get the right string.

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    1. I get my static grass off of eBay, usually cheaper and free postage. Not sure there is much to chose between suppliers, I’ve used various and they are pretty much all the same so tend to be influenced by colour and price. Length wise I used 2mm. You could go bigger given the various types of fir trees which exist but you’d know more about that than me given your occupation. Some of the colours are a bit bright but you should be able to find plenty which look good.

      The tree in the diorama I’m doing is a wire tree not a fir tree but I did a couple of posts on how to make them too if that’s more of what you want.

      Have just started to figure out how to make a palm tree, will see how that goes!

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