Scratch built scouring pad trees

My Bolt Action platoons are shaping up and I’ve been on a bit of a kick to get some terrain whipped up. One thing I sorely wanted were trees. However I’m just not able to bite the bullet and pony up cash for them. Looking around for pre-made scenery, trees are a bit expensive. A long time back I had gotten a bulk pack from woodland scenics where you could construct your own trees. It was a mess to put together and while great for a diorama, it just couldn’t handle the wear and tear for my wargaming table.

One tutorial I dug up described using cleaning pads for pine trees. Just right for my budget, so I jumped right in and looked into making some up. I picked up some scouring pads for less than a dollar and kept some skewers from some street food after a late night of drinking. I liked these skewers as they were thick ¼” diameter wood pieces.

I cut the pads into rows and then in approximately 1 ½” to 2” squares. I then trimmed the square pads into rough circles. I made sure to save a lot of the small corner bits of pad after cutting the major sections into circles. Some of the pads I cut into smaller circles of about 1 inch to serve as the top section of the tree, and followed this up by cutting the tree ‘trunks’ into 3-5” lengths. I found while larger trees are more realistically scaled, they are almost too big for wargaming.

As the I had to get the center wooden piece through the pad sections, I made a small cut in the center of the pads. Then came the more tedious bit. To give the pads some bulk, I teased apart the pad material for each section. This would almost double their thickness by simple pulling the material apart some.

With a hot glue gun, I added a dab to the center dowel and skewered a single pad section, moving it down to little over ½ the length of the wood. I repeated this, adding more glue higher up the wood shaft, adding more sections. I ensured the last section was a smaller diameter circle piece. All in all, I found 4-5 pad sections was enough for the trees to give them some bulk.

For the tops of the trees, I used the leftover parts of the pads from making the circle sections. Really teasing them apart, I could add 2-3 sections to the center wooden piece after placing some hot glue. This gave a nice small tapered top to them.

To mount my trees, I cut up some old software CDs, carefully rounding the edges. I placed a thick drop of hot glue in the center and then set the tree on the base. I decided rather than using watered down PVA and flock for the bases, I’d use a drybrush over a layer of modelling ballast. I wanted to do this partially to keep from getting flock all stuck up in the trees and also to ensure the trees could take a little punishment with storage and transporting.

I put down a layer of watered-down PVA glue and after letting the model ballast dry, set to painting it. I gave each tree a good coat of green spray paint. A nice part of this is that the paint will also act as a sort of cement for the ballast, and stiffen up the pad sections of the tree too.

After letting them dry, I painted the trunks a nice brown coat, and followed it up by drybrushing the bases with a lighter green to simulate grass and low brush. More chunks of flock could be added if needed, but overall I liked the effect it gave.

Note I did not highlight the trees any. I feel one solid color, with potentially a wash was enough. Drybrushing the tree leaf sections would likely only highlight the overall pattern of stacked pads even more. With one solid, uniform color of green, the detail of the tree leaf sections are muddled some. Afterwards I went ahead and gave the trees a matte varnish spray.

I think they look pretty decent and you simply cannot beat the price. I may very well likely pick up a few model trees and expect if I mix them in with the lot I made, they will look even better on the tabletop. This was a pretty fun project and an evening’s worth of work (minus the time needed for letting the trees dry due to spray painting). Now to just get some more games in!