How to Make a 28mm Palm Tree

How to Make a Palm Tree.

The follow up to last week’s post – “X” Marks The Spot”.


To make the palm tree I used the following items, you can of course use similar products:-

  • 3 lengths of Florist wire, approximately 35cm in length
  • Goose feathers, approximately 3 to 5cm in length and roughly 35 to 40 in number
  • Milliput
  • Superglue
  • General purpose filler
  • A very small length of course string
  • Paints (various)

For the build I used the following tools:-

  • Small hand vice
  • Wire cutters
  • A cocktail stick
  • Paint brushes


Step 1

Take two pieces of the 35cm Florist Wire, fold each in half and cut to make four equal lengths.


Step 2

Take the four equal lengths of Florist Wire and place all four ends into the hand vice so that they are all tightly clamped together.


Step 3

Using the 3rd piece of Florist wire start to wind it as tightly as you can around the four clamped pieces staring about 2cm up from the bottom.  Ideally you want to keep the wire wound round closely following each turn but if there are small gaps it really doesn’t matter.  Continue until you have run out of wire and then remove from the vice.  You now have the main basis of the tree trunk.


Step 4

Take the Milliput and make two largish balls and four small balls.  Use one of the larger balls for the bottom of the tree trunk and one for the top.  Push the four short lengths of wire which exist at the end of each end of the tree trunk through the Milliput as this will ensure it is all nicely fixed together.  Taper the top ball a little to blend with the trunk and make a smooth joint, same for the bottom ball but flatten it a little as well to help create a base for later.

If the four lengths of wire are too long then use the wire clippers to shorten.  You may wish to keep them long at the bottom anyway as this will help when it comes to fixing to a base.  Personally I didn’t bother as I knew I would be adding base work around the tree which would be sufficient to hold it in place.


Step 5

Before the Milliput dries use the point of the cocktail stick to make numerous holes in the top ball to allow for the feather palms to be inserted later.  If you find you haven’t made enough (which is what happened to me!) you can easily drill more into the Milliput later.

Step 6

Once the Milliput has dried mix some General purpose filler together with some water and PVA glue and coat the tree trunk.  Try to avoid it being to thick, you want to be able to keep the shape created by the wire you wrapped around.  Set aside to dry.

NOTE – If you want to shape the trunk, give it a slight bend for example, do this before applying the filler!


Step 7

While the filler on the tree trunk is drying it’s time to sort and paint the feathers.  You can of course do this at anytime.

I bought my feathers on Ebay, a pack of 50 which proved sufficient to make a single tree with some over.  I graded the feathers into three piles of similar length, small, medium, large.  The smallest would create the lower palms leaves, followed by the medium length ones with the longest feathers stuck on last as you work bottom up.

After a bit of experimenting I painted the leaves using Citadel Biel-Tan Green Shade.  I found the wash worked well.  I brushed the paint on starting at the center of the feather stroking outwards and painted both sides.  You should find that the paint will bind bits of the feather together to create natural fronds.  You could try airbrushing but as I don’t have one I cannot comment.  My only concern might be that an airbrush won’t create the fronds but if anyone gives it a go I would be interested to know how it went.


Step 8

When the tree trunk is dry take the four small Milliput balls and glue them around the top ball, these are coconuts!

Once the “coconuts” have dried it’s time to paint the entire trunk.  I used thinned oil paints starting with Burnt Umber as the base and then dry brushed highlights of Yellow Ocre and White.  You can of course use any paints you like.


Step 9

As a final touch to the coconuts I chopped up some very small pieces of string and stuck them on to create the effect of the husk.


Step 10

With everything painted and dry it’s now time to glue in the feather palms.  Start with the smallest feathers at the bottom and work round first and then work up.  I chose to stick the feathers in using superglue as it dries quickly, otherwise you will be there all day long!


Step 11

Your tree should now be complete.  Congratulations!


The final step is to base it which is of course down to the individual.  I chose to keep mine simple, the figures in my vignette were what I wanted people to look at.  A Milliput foundation held the completed tree in place.  This was topped with sand and then painted.  A sprinkling of chopped string was also added to the bottom of the tree.



Well that’s it folks.  Any questions please let me know.  I may well have left something out.  If you do give it a go please let me know how you get on.  This was my first tree but it won’t be my last.

In the meanwhile Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.





32 thoughts on “How to Make a 28mm Palm Tree

  1. Brilliant Dave ! I’ll have to call you the tree man from now on ! ,Ok on that note think about the Australian gum tree I have only seen one good attempt at it and sadly I forget where .Funny that ,an old Auss asking a Pom how to make and Australian native eh! ,but in our trade I feel always ask ,you never know what someone else will come up with . I have picked up so many tips in the short time I have been with you guys it’s amazing ,what with you and the trees and IMP with some great painting tips it’s been a great year of learning ,so cheers cobber and a very merry and safe Christmas to you and your lovely family. I trust you made a big fuss over SWMBO’s birthday it being a mile stone one , although I’m surprised ,going by the photos I feel you might have may made a typo and meant 50th ! .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sadly SWMBO is in bed poorly which is where she has been for a couple of days having picked up a virus. Hopefully she will be over it before Christmas and that nobody else will pick it up in the meanwhile. I’m sure we will make up for it in due course.

      If the image of the tree I’ve seen online is the right one then we are definately looking at a wire tree which ought to be straight forward enough. The leaves on the other hand will be difficult but that depends very much on scale. The tree in the WW2 Diorama I just done might do the trick if painted appropriately.

      Looking forward to more banter in 2019. In the meanwhile have a great Christmas and New Year and best wishes to your family and the clever little one and the tech adviser.


      1. Sorry to hear SWMBO ,never pleasant to get one at anytime but when everyone else is gearing up for fun and it’s your big day ,buugggerr ! no not good at all ,she has all my sympathy . I haven’t tried the wire trees yet so that’s a thought ,but as you say the leaves !!! ,well I’ve set the young blood hound onto
        it and she has gone straight to the spice rack looking for seeds that are gum leaf shaped, came up with fennel ,good luck with sticking those all-over a tree ,might take you a couple of weeks !! . So mate look after the lovely lady and I’m sure you and the family will have a great Christmas . Kindest Rgds from the McFarland Mob .

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As usual, you’ve made it look easy, but that is one impressive looking tree! I’m imagining that if SWMBO sees your tree-making tutorials, come next November it’ll go something like this:

    SWMBO – “Dave, time to get down to the DIY superstore. You want 50 yards of garden wire, 100 yards of garden string and 2 litres of Forest Green fence paint.
    DAVE – “What for, dear?”
    SWMBO – “You’re making us a Christmas tree!”
    DAVE – “What’s the magic word?”
    SWMBO – “NOW!”

    I know when my wife says “Jump!” I ask “How high?”. Do hope you all have a great Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. In all fairness they ae quite easy to do, i was surprised myself at the time.

      As for the insightful conversation, the next time I see a fly on the wall I’m going to take a closer look to see if it’s you! 😉

      Enjoy your Christ,as and New Year too. Looking forward to more exchanges in 2019!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. That’s brilliant and you’re obviously a lot smarter than we all thought hehe 😉 Nah jokes aside it’s a great tutorial. One I’ll keep a mental note of when it comes to making a pirate island I’ve been planning for ages. The cut up string for the tusks is just genius. I like that your tutorials don’t go on and on but at the same time you get the all the key points across. Great work man. If we don’t speak again have a great Christmas and save some Turkey… Or was it goose, for me!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Cheers IRO, if you ever get around to making one be sure to let me know how you get on. As to Christmas I’ll set an extra pkace at the table just in case you make it over! In the meanwhile best wishes to you and your family, hope you have a good one and I look forward to some banter ih the New Year.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That was pretty interesting to read, and doesn’t look nearly as hard as …it looks. Because the tree looks great, and looks like it would be harder than that to make. Still, like maenoferren22 I bought a ton of plastic ones earlier this year (which I’ve used none of) and for wargames scenery, I’m more likely to go with the easy option. For a diorama or vignette though – this certainly looks the business!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed learning how to make it but of the three types of tree I can now scratch build this one I will do the least but enjoyed the most on account of it being tropical. The tropics don’t feature a great deal in what I do. That said the feathers make for good ground plants too so they may get used again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep, I can see that working really nicely, especially as they’re so fine. As (nominally) a wargamer, I need to ensure that my terrain can take a reasonable kicking, so feathers for foliage are right out. Aquarium plants are where it’s at for us! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s one way in which our approaches differ slightly, you understandably have to have things which are more robust. Another I picked up on was varnish. Until recently I’d never varnished a figure in my life because they were never man handled. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I find varnish also helps in the long term when dusting models. Sometimes washes and the like (especially inks) retain just a bit of tackiness, which really gloms up the dust. I can’t imagine oils being much better!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. She’s fine now mate thank you and looking forward to New Year. Annoyingly these things happen and when they do it’s never the best time, but when is there? She’s not a great fan of when her birthday is not that she wanted to be ill so we usually defer whatever we do until later on.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed, You know how my Christmas worked out with my dad, so I can absolutely sympathise. We brought him home yesterday, so now we’re on the new set of daily visits to ensure he’s got all he needs and to keep his spirits up.
        So good to hear about SWMBO being better. Now you can get ready to party like it’s 1999 again!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Great news regarding your dad. Strokes have a very high recovery rate but it still takes time and care but that’s what families, ideally, are for. He’s lucky because he obviously has people such as yourself and Marouda who care enough to see he is OK. As for partying like it’s 1999, if I did do that for 2018 I’d do myself a serious injury! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah, this is his second one (actually, it was a whole lot of micro-strokes at once) so he needs to get his shit in order and lay off the fags completely, for one thing.
        Sounds like your 1999 party plans would only be worthwhile if someone had a video camera handy. Luckily, everyone has a videocamera handy these days on their phones, so go for it!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Slick trick there! Couple questions (as always). What did you use for general filler? Would you get the same effect with the feathers if you dipped them in some thinned down paint/wash? That could be a bit faster, but not sure if the feathers would end up binding like you want them to. Thanks for putting this together, and now I have a goto if I ever want to make some cool jungle terrain!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The filler was just a general DIY crack one mixed with water and PVA, certainly nothing special. Dipping the feathers is a good idea but not one I tried. Worth giving it a go though I think. Even if it doesn’t create the fronds I think they would still look very good.

      Liked by 1 person

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