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Going Round The Twist For St. Ruth - Trees Pt 1

Ian Smith



I was hoping that I would be able to add this entry to the 2mm Midland Area Group's St Ruth blog (http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/blog/595-st-ruth/), but despite assurances from Andy (D869) I don't seem to have the ability. Never mind I'll post it in my own blog for now.


At the last Area Group Meeting, I rather foolishly / bravely / enthusiastically (delete as appropriate) said that I would have a go at making some trees for St Ruth - We plan to have a wooded section behind the branchline just before it disappears off scene. In the past I have made a couple of 4mm scale trees using bowden or bicycle brake cable, which is the very devil to cut, and tends to inflict a certain amount of injury to ones finger tips as it is bent into branch and twig formations. It also has relatively few individual strands, which could be aproblem in a 2mm scale tree.


I therefore decided to try to make a tree using some electrical cable that I had to hand. This is a 12 wire shielded multi-core cable where each individual wire has 7 individual strands.


Raw Material - doesn't look much like a tree yet


I remembered seeing an article way back in the early '90's in a 2mm Association magazine detailing the use of a similar wire for making trees / shrubs, unfortunately I cannot locate the article so cannot attribute this method to the author (apologies to said author). However, the idea is to construct the boughs, branches and twiggier parts of the tree using the individual strands of cable. The (to my mind) clever idea though is to effectively double up on the number of individual strands available by looping the strands back on themselves.


About 6 inch length of stripped cable doubled back and twisted together to secure.



The loops are then separated into groups of 3 or 4, twisted together for a few mm and new loops formed by doubling up again and again.



This is continued until all of the loops are used up.



The end loops are cut open, the individual wires spread apart, and solder applied to the whole lot.



The resultant branch and twig assembly is then bound with wire strands to other previously formed branches and trunk, and secured in place with solder. The branches and twigs being carefully bent so that they "grow" in the direction of light. (Hopefully it's starting to look a bit more tree-like now) :no:


This will be continued until I have enough branch structure to the tree, at which point i will spray the whole thing in primer and then paint in a suitable grey / green colour for the trunk and branches. At the moment I am undecided how to foliate the tree, initially I was intending to glue Woodland Scenics "Foliage" material to the twiggy bits at the end of the branches, or use their foliage net stuff. However a visit to a model shop in Coventry last week provided me a bag of Woodland Scenics "Poly Fiber" (sic), and a bag of Woodland Scenics "Bushes" both of which may produce a better looking tree in the long run - I can feel a bit of experimentation coming on.


Hopefully, the next installment will allow me to show a completed tree.



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  • RMweb Gold

Promising start there Ian. I have at home a short length (couple of feet) of fairly heavy cable. If I remember right it has 110 wires in it. I have been saving it for trees but have been baulking at using it because I only have so little. I shall follow this and maybe have a go.


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  • RMweb Gold

Hi Ian, that tree already looks excellent. The density of branches and twigs is often a let-down on  models trees, I find, and your model here shows just what a big difference it makes. A clever little trick to double the strands by looping them.


I can just imagine the situation at the DIY store:

"Excuse me Sir, why are you cutting up all our electrical cable?"

"I am counting the strands"

"You are what?"



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Hi Ian,


I definitely added you as an editor a few weeks back but I just went and checked again and you were not on the list so I don't know what went wrong. Maybe I did something wrong.


I've added you again and you are definitely on the editors list now :)


Regards, Andy

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I have used the same looping method for my trees, however I used, some multi stranded cable I bought from B & Q

I think that it's a very effective method of producing a great many "twigs" from very little wire - I used 7 strand wire between 6" and a 1' long, which produced anything up to 60 "twiggy" ends.


The only down side for me was that the branches where they meet the trunk are probably a little thinner than I would have liked, although clearly this can be beefed up with solder or filler.

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