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Model Train Scenery: Making Mountain Methods

So this week I was looking into different methods of how to make mountains for your layout, and I came across a few different methods using foam. I’ll be honest, foam doesn’t feature to heavily on my layout (with the exception of using it as the base of my layout), as I’m a bit “old school” so I still use the “balls of newspaper covered in plaster cloth” method of creating my mountain structures.

This method is really easy as all you need is newspaper, masking tape, and plaster cloth.

Step 1: Take the newspaper and just ball it up. You need to make sure that you ball up the newspaper nice and tight. Wrap the ball up with some masking tape to help prevent it from unfolding. Repeat until you have as many balls as you need.

Step 2: Make a mountain shape out of the newspaper balls. Start with the base and work up. Use strips of masking tape to help hold the balls in place.

Step 3; Once you are happy with the overall size and shape of your mountain, place it where you want it to go on your layout and apply the plaster cloth. Depending on the make and manufacturer of the plaster cloth you may need to cut it into strips and/or the appropriate length first. You will need to wet your plaster cloth first and then apply it to your mountain of newspaper balls. I find that starting at the top and working down works best. Keep applying the paster cloth until your mountain is completely covered. Remember, by having plaster cloth which is attached to your mountain and your layout base will help keep it in place.

Drying times may vary depending on what make of plaster cloth you are using, but generally its between 24 to 48 hours until it is completly hardened.

After its dry its then simply a case of applying colour and any scenery you want to add.

Anyway, thats the method that I use mainly. Now time to show you some methods with foam.


First is a great video which shows how you can make some nice looking mountains really easily and cheaply using foam boxes.

Personally I would use the mountains shown in this method as part of a backdrop rather than having them in the middle of the layout, as they are rather flat.


The second video shows how you can make mountains using extruded foam – its the foam that many modellers (myself included) use as the ground base for layouts. It’s pretty easy to get a hold of as its available in all good home and hardware stores. (I’m informed that in the US you can get it in Home Depot and Lowe’s).


The last video is probably my favourite method as I love how great the mountain looks. I’ve not done this method but I’m certainly going to look into doing it the next time I give my layout a re-model.

Bear in mind that in this video, the mountain is actually being made to go into a tank for a pet lizard or spider, but the principles and the methods behind making the mountain would remain the same for making it to go on a layout.

Product used in the above video – Hot Wire Foam Factory

From my understanding, you can also use the hot wire cuttingmethod on the extruded foam as well.

Remember if you like what you see, have any questions or are familiar with using foam in your scenery then please coment below.

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About Dan Morgan

Dan Morgan is on a mission to encourage more people to give model railroading a go... There is just no better hobby in the world!

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