For cutting and shaping the Fuji Film canister lids, I experimented using both my Olfa packing knife and one of my Excel scalpels  . The Olfa packing knife quickly proved to be unsuitable…the blade size is too big and the chance of cutting into oneself while using it is quite high. The scalpel was far more appropriate, allowing for a good grip and fine blade control.

I experimented with cutting the lid from the topside and the underside. Cutting from the underside was better: . The purpose is to cut away the excess outer ring so that only the inner raised section or cup is retained…you should end up after the first stage of cutting with something looking like this: . The second stage involves refining the cut area, so that it is rounder and on an angle, not perpendicular to the surface it’s going to be stuck to. Here’s a finished one: .

With that complete, it’s time to prepare the tree armatures by shaping them to a shape you want and cut the trunks to the height you want. I kept some of the original shapes; I reshaped some of the others to other shapes; I cut some right back so that they would look like young trees and I also cut away all branches on one angle to make it look like that side of the tree was dying and had already dropped its limbs.  I used side cutters for all this shaping: .

Then I cut the trunks to a range of shorter heights: .

I had already pre-cut the sheet styrene I was going to use as the final bases. These are roughly 50mm x 50mm.

I made two small incisions in an ‘x’ shape in each cannister lid (a cross incision) and got the glue ready.

The last stage was to insert the tree armature into the ‘x’/cross incision in the lid, press the armature & lid combination against the sheet styrene base to make sure the bottom of the armature and the bottom of the lid were equal, and glue it all in place. One lot of glue went on the end of the armature so it whould adhere to the sheet styre, a second lot of glue went on the lid so it would adhere to the sheet styrene, and a third and final lot of glue went on where the armature is anchored in the cross incision in the lid: .

Once they are all cured/dried, I tested them – if something hadn’t glued together properly, I redid it.

The armatures are based and ready for foliage. That’s going to be the next few posts…

I’m going to sidestep the StuG IIIs I’m working on (yet again!) to discuss an aspect of the hobby that I really enjoy – terrain.

In a collection of eBay purchases from over a year ago, a number of plastic tree armatures were included. I have avoided them whilst I have been building up the numbers of my AFVs and also trying to work out how best to use Hob-e-tac, which is needed to affix foliage to tree armatures. The last experiment was in October – you can catch up on it here. During Easter I found Iwas ready to continue my efforts with both of these aspects, Hob-e-tac and making trees.

The first problem to be dealt with was that the armatures have no bases. They end in thin plastic spikes, as they are meant to be simply stuck into polystyrene and left there…they are for model railroad dioramas, not for wargaming. Here’s what they look like:  . Instead,I need them stuck onto some sort of a small flat base so they stand by themselves and be boxed up for easy transportation.

I mentioned last year that I saw a great way to do this – Tim over at Tim’s Wargaming Stuff had a great demo about how he solved an almost identical problem, using GW ‘slotta’ bases. He took leftover ‘slotta’ bases, drilled holes in them, stuck the tree trunks through the holes  and then fixed everything in place with some glue. Simple and effective! The difference for me is that I’m working with 20mm or 25mm scale trees – Tim was working with 10mm scale trees. I needed some sort of bigger substitute for ‘slotta’ bases.

The answer was closer at hand than I thought. I collect unwanted film canisters from film development centres as they have a number of modelling applications:  . I decided to experiment using the two main types, which are Kodak and Fuji Film. I commenced by cutting holes through the grey lids of the black Kodak canisters:   . I then stuck the tree armature trunks into them to see how well they would stand.

I then did the same with the Fuji Film canister lids:  .

When compared side by side   the Fuji Film lids seemed to be the better choice. They had a smaller raised section which, when glued onto a sheet styrene base, would look less obtrusive or could be disguised more effectively. The Kodak lids would suffice but look a little more odd.

I had plenty of both and so gathered all the Fuji Film lids and prepared to cut and shape them all to the task.