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Craftsman Extra Board - August 2012

Easy latchhook weeds for your model railroad

Easy latchhook weeds for your model railroad

by George Riley/photos as noted

It seems that getting started with scenery poses one of the most common road blocks to enjoying the hobby. Most often this is caused by some misconceptions regarding model landscape construction. First, one doesn’t have to be an artist. Since nearly all of the popular scenery products follow an established color palette with complete instructions as to their proper application, there is little room for error. Secondly, many hobbyists believe the materials are messy to use and techniques take years to master. A simple shop vac will handle any mess, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover how easy the techniques to create realistic scenery can be.

The natural world is a patchwork of different colors and textures. One of the easiest ways to create realistic looking ground cover for your model railroad is to add a number of different types of plants to the landscape. Fortunately these are now available ready to "plant" from a host of sources.

Two note worthy examples are Silflor’s Golden Rods and Woodland Scenics’ Field Grass. These products add an additional dimension to a model scene, however, they can be tedious to install. To make installation easier and to speed the process we devised a simple homemade tool and simple technique.


Begin by making a "latchhook" by mounting a 6d finishing nail in the end of a section of ½” dowel rod. Wrap the nail end of the tool with tape to prevent tear out and splintering. The nail may need to be held in place with a drop of ACC glue as well.

If the scenery base is hard, as it would be if using plywood or plaster, drill a series of random 1/8” holes to accept the plant materials. If a soft base such as Styrofoam is used the plants can be pressed into the base with out the need to drill holes.

Next, take a ¼” section of the Golden Rod material or a 1/16” bundle of Field Grass and twist it in the middle. Place a dab of scenery cement either in the drilled hole or on the base where the finished plant will be placed.


Using the ‘latchhook’ tool, press the twisted center section into the glue pressing the plant down into either the drilled hole or Styrofoam base. Pull out the tool and shape the foliage if necessary. Using this technique a whole field of plants can be added in only a short time.


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