Elle Towan
August 10, 2014
4 min read

Matchstick Fence

If you spend long enough looking around the house, you'll soon realize just how many great opportunities there are for find new modelling materials and Matchstick Fences are no exception!

The matchsticks modeled here are specifically N scale however the technique is easily applied to HO scale and larger.

If you have patience and time to spend delicately putting together this fantastic and rustic looking fence, keep reading and I'll show you how I did it.

Start by gathering up some matchsticks, there are actually many types of matchsticks and if you have a choice try to buy the thinnest type. Additionally, if you check out the local craft or art supply store there is a good chance they will have a bag of matchsticks that you can purchase and the advantage is they will more than likely have the flammable heads removed. Otherwise if the common household matchsticks are all you can get your hands on just be sure to remove the flammable head.​You don't want your fence to BURN DOWN... not to mention the rest of the layout!

I start by deciding on the height of the fence and cut enough main posts at the desired length. In this example that ended up being about 1cm for an N scale fence.​For the cross beams I cut those to be a little over 1cm, approximately 1.2cm.There is a problem though, for N scale the thickness of one matchstick is much to thick. To fix this problem you'll need to split the matchstick into four equal parts cutting along its length.

Above you can see one cross beam has been split into four equal parts. They will not be 100% perfect when cut but this may also add to the effect of the fence being a natural wood fence that's been handmade.Something you'd most likely see on a farm or ranch from the 1960's.

With all the post and cross beams cut I prepare them to be assembled. Here you can easily see the posts are much shorter than the cross beams. For any pieces that are odd shaped you can use the hobby knife to carefully trim and fix them to confor to the desired shape.

Now for the tricky part, gluing it all together!I tried a couple of ways to glue them but the easiest way was to lay it flat and use a needle with a very small dab of glue to apply to the ends of each rail.You might need some tweezers to help hold it flat because you'll find the glue on the needle will try to pull the small splinter of matchstick with it as you lift the needle away.Additionally you may consider laying and gluing the fence down over a piece of baking paper to help prevent the glue from sticking to places you don't intend.

The first piece is often the hardest, once you get a couple of sections glued together the main structure becomes more rigid and less likely to move whilst you glue on additional sections.A good set of pliers will greatly help in putting the fence together, and a good fast drying glue will also make construction go faster.Glues that take a while to set will be more hassle than they are worth. Super glue can work but I recommend using a fast setting craft glue as they are more flexible unlike super glue which is quite brittle.Having a flexible glue will make installing the fence into the scenery and terrain much easier.

To give it a bit more depth and age I dry brushed some lighter brown to bring out some highlights in the wood grain of the matchstick, a little hard to see in the photo but when viewed from your own eyes it makes quite a difference.Just try to be gentle as the fence can be quite fragile.

To fix it to the layout I applied a small dab of white craft glue to the bottom of each post.

The great thing about using white glue to fix the rails and posts together is the glue remains a little flexible. So when you go to place it on the layout, if there is a curve you want it to go around, just bend it to the shape your after. To a limit obviously! And it also works well with hills.

And that's the end result.I think in terms of scale it looks pretty good, and there's no limit on how big or complex you want your fence.I hope you enjoyed it and find something useful.Thanks for reading


Download the files associated with the project. All files are included in a zip for convenience.


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