Stack some Firewood

A stack of fire wood is a simple detail that can be repeated in numerous places on you layout, and yet they will never be out of place, and it will never seem like there are too many. A stack of fire wood works nicely beside any residence, a campground, or an outdoor business, like a produce stand or flea market,

Time and Difficulty

A super-simple project that can be completed in a few minutes.

Select Hardwoods

The best looking fire wood is made of real wood. There are two criteria I look for a natural wood twig to use for firewood. First, a tight grain and second, an outer layer that looks like tree bark. A tight grain is necessary so the the cut wood retains its solid, wood-like appearance. Some twig varieties will fray or split on the ends giving an unacceptable appearance. The second quality is a nice outer bark. Not only should the outer layer look like actual tree bark, but it should not fall off when it dries.

I have found three plants varieties that produce tight-grained non-fibrous twigs with an outer layer that resembles tree bark. The three varieties I recommend are:

  • Maple
  • Dogwood
  • Azalea
The twigs of the Azalea and the Dogwood (right) have an amazing looking bark that looks very natural and to scale.
The Dogwood tree produces twigs that can be split open to look exactly like split logs.

Once you’ve selected the wood, use a jig to cut it to length. Wider pieces can be split, just like real wood. Use carpenter’s glue to stack and secure your woodpile.


A Weedy Track Siding

Spur sidings are rarely used or maintained to the degree that main trackage and passage sidings are maintained. Spur sidings might be privately owned and not served by the railway’s maintenance-of-way equipment. It’s not uncommon for a spur siding to have weeds growing within the ballast

Time and Difficulty

This is a simple project that can be done in just a short time, but really adds detail to your layout. It is a very easy way to improve the realism and short siding can be completed in less than an hour.

What You’ll Need

  • tacky glue
  • white or carpenter’s glue.
  • scissors
  • commercial grass Fiber or a wide natural fiber paint brush
  • small chunks of ground foam in grass color
  • finely ground foam in assorted grass colors

This is my own technique. There may be other techniques that are just as good or even better, but this will get you started. First, squirt a glob of tacky glue about half the diameter of a dime, wherever you want the grass to grow the tallest. That is typically next to the cross ties, rails, bridge abutments, tunnel buttresses, discarded lumber, ledge rocks, coal heaps, equipment boxes, fence posts, etc.; places where mowers don’t reach and people and animals don’t tread. Pinch the long grass fibers or paint brush bristles between your finger and thumb, and cut to about one inch length. Without letting go, work one end of the fibers down into the glue with a tight, circular motion making sure the outside edges are covered. Hold it until the fibers will stand up on their own. Repeat until you are satisfied with the coverage and density of the tall grass.

A rarely used track siding covered by weeds

Continue by gluing small clumps of grass-colored foam between the ties, especially on the ends.

The weedy siding will have a more convincing appearance, especially if the weeds are growing around discarded equipment.