Almost FREE scatter...

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Almost FREE scatter...

Postby RAF » Sat Oct 13, 2007 10:30 pm

Ok this is my first article so... how to make almost FREE scatter.

I decided that for around £1-2 pound for a small sachet scatter was too expensive, especially when you need to cover a large area, and grass mat too was quite pricey for what it was so decided to make my own scatter.

Step 1) Find a local carpenter. They have loads of sawdust that they can give you for free. Ideally ask for the finer stuff but don't worry too much as it can be sived out so you end up with finer stuff. The grade of the sawdust depends on how you sieve it so if you want multiple grades start course with say a culinder then work your way down to a tea strainer. Personally I found a cullinder was fine enough for me.

Step 2) You will need:
The graded sawdust
Plastic containers, i.e. ice cream tubs ect.
Dylon clothes dye... this being the only thing you would have to buy. Buy the smaller little disk shaped tins at about £1.79. they go a long way, Buy various greens. I bought about 4 greens: Olive Green, Forest Green, Emerald and I forget the fourth.

Step 3)
Put about an inch of warm or hot water in the bottom of your container.
Then add the dye of the colour you want to the water and mix. (you can mix the dyes if you want!) Remember, you will have to get the water a lot darker than the colour you actually want for your scatter, as the yellow of the sawdust will lighten it up. My fist attempt ended up very pale green for this reason. For a standard green for example my water was almost black! This is the only bit of guesswork really and is trial and error.

Step 4) Add enough sawdust to the container until there is no water left, the sawdusk will soak it up very quickly and you will end up with a paste.

Step 5) Leave to dry. This can take days, so do it way in advance of what you are planning to use it for. Regardless of where you try and dry it the rule is the thinner you spread it, the faster it dries, so if you get a dry day, spread it out on a bin liner in the garden as thinly as you can.

Step 6) Repeat the steps above but with different shades of green until you have a batch of dark green, light green, medium ect. When they are all dry you can then mix them to the desired effect you want. Add plain sawdusk to the mix for the yellowy bits of grass for example.

It might be a long process but works out much more economical.

Below is a pic of the medium green I mixed up last night and is yet to dry...


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Postby RAF » Sat Oct 13, 2007 10:37 pm

Oh and I forgot to mention, it doesn't matter if you end up with the odd few large bits in the paste, since once it's dry you can grade it again! :D

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Postby 80064 » Sun Oct 14, 2007 9:19 pm

Good idea!

Is the dye powder or liquid? I was wondering if the same technique would work with powdered paints without the water, creating a dry mix?

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Postby RAF » Sun Oct 14, 2007 10:34 pm

It would stick together and clump up when drying. The dye is a powder.

I am going to attempt it with food colouring as a cheapER alternative though some time next week. ;)

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Postby 47806 » Mon Oct 15, 2007 12:35 am

A very good idea. My uncle suggested this to me once, but I have never tried it. I always stick to the expensive stuff out of habit!
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Postby edwardholmes91 » Sat Oct 20, 2007 9:20 pm

I heard about this a while ago, and so I though I would give it a try. I bought the Olive Green Dylon dye, costing about £1.79 I think.

I used the instructions on the tin, which ment using boiling water, then mixing the dye in, then adding more cold water, then the sawdust and then mixing over the hob for about 20mins.

I then poured the water off from it and let it dry for about a week or more. I got fed up with it and so I borrowed mums baking trays! And spread it out all over the airing cupboard, dryed a treat in about a day!

Here are some picture of the result, I will sieve it onto my layout when I use it.


This is a picture of the pan that I made the mix in, oh and I forgot to say, I used half of the small cylindrical tub that I bought.


This is a picture once it has dried, sorry I dont have any picture of it while it was drying.

But as you can see, it dries a lot lighter than it is when it is wet, the water was nearly black.

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Postby RAF » Sat Oct 20, 2007 11:03 pm

Just to add to that, my scatter looks pretty much identical to the above pic when finally dried. But although my instructions also said to boil, I didn't bother, since sawdust is so absorbant, I didn't think it would need it.

So personally I wouldn't bother with the boiling step.

Also for drying, I don't have an airing cupboard but found the best method was to make a valley in one of the radiators using tinfoil and spread it along that. Takes about 1 day per batch depending on how often the heating is on. When the heating is not on, it should be warm enough to spread it thinly outside which also works great so long as it's not too windy. I used bin bags to spread it out on.


Rob. :)

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Postby tony_vernon » Tue Nov 20, 2007 8:14 am

I've been using sawdust as flock, only I didn't dye it at all. I applied it 'naked' to the surface using PVA glue, and after it had dried, I simply applied varying shades of green and yellow paint. Doing it this way avoids the need to dye, and the coating of paint provides additional adhesive


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Postby markwcel » Tue Nov 20, 2007 8:54 pm

just tried it....just used dylon dissolved in hot water then added to the sawdust....spread it on a baking sheet and put in a warm oven...mine was pet sawdust which is a bit thicker...used a magimix to grind it down...dont think it will make it back into the kitchen again
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Postby bricklayer » Wed Nov 21, 2007 9:38 am

you can also make tarmac type scatter with bog standard fountain pen black ink in the same way, - i have also produced various types of different coloured scatters using acrylic paints and sawdust... so if you want to add blossom to a tree, gently roll the tree in PVA and then rotate it through a tub of pink dyed scatter or maybe yellow or whatever, acrylic paints work fine along with dylon....

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Postby AdamH1990 » Sun Dec 02, 2007 12:27 pm

i will try this i think as it saves money :D if you have been following my layout thread (tinmouth railway) i have huge areas to cover more than 8ft long and 4ft wide at times and im still putting boards down so i got loads of saw dust :lol:

but can you make ballast with this aswell ???

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Re: Almost FREE scatter...

Postby Steve with the Hat » Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:47 am

Regular paint can be used to colour the saw dust, after drying clumps can easily be ground up. Grading through a tea strainer will yield really fine scatter. DO NOT USE MDF DUST

Flock or foam crumb can also be made from a car sponge, soaked in water then frozen. When solid, grate with a cheese grater and then pass through a coffee grinder/blender. While still wet add paint of the desired colour and dry, breaking up clumps regularly.




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