How to make HO scale hay bales

Paul’s been back in touch, this time he shows us how to make HO scale hay bales.

(his last post is here).

“Hi Alastair recently some people asked how to make hay bales.

I responded that Woodland Scenics sells them but they are costly. Here is how I make mine.

First get some round wooden toothpicks and secure one of them in a vise as shown.

Get some JUTE twine as shown to wind around the toothpick. Put a layer of glue on the toothpick and wind an initial layer of twine around the toothpick.

Clamp the ends and let dry or use a hairdryer as I did. When dry put another layer of glue on the twine and wind a second layer of twine on top and clamp.

Continue with as many layers as you like.

I feel 3 is sufficient to give me the size hay bale I like. When dry cut to length with a very sharp razor knife. I find 1/2″ is about right.


How to make HO scale hay bales

How to make HO scale hay bales

twine for bales

glue for bales

twisting twine for hay

clips on twine

clips on twine

glue twine for hay

drying twine

How to make HO scale hay bales glue

And I’ve had quite a few mails on this now, enjoyed them all:


Haven’t written before but I want you to know how much your site means to me and my modeling hobby in the basement of my house.

This past weekend I went to the Golden Spike ceremony in Corrine, Utah. As a native Utahn I am proud of our heritage in joining the continent together.

At the same time Union Pacific brought the Big Boy to Ogden along with 844. I don’t know the last time that two engines of that size double headed in the United States, but it was an amazing site.

Attached is a video I made of the visit to Ogden and the trains coming into Echo just at the top of Weber Canyon, which the Big Boy was designed for to pull trains over the Wasatch Mountains.

Just some different perspectives.

Thanks for all you do.


Carbonville, Utah, USA”

“Hi Al,

I’ve seen a few requests for the track plan for my switching layout.

Instead of drawing it out and I don’t have a CAD program I decided to take a flight over the layout and snap a picture. What I attached is very close to the full 4×8 layout. It shows the full track plan. Gives a good overall view of how things are set up.

Also shows the last small section of Pink Foam board left that hasn’t had scenery added yet. That pink will disappear yet today 🙂


Bill in Virginia”

A big thanks to Paul for showing us how to make HO scale hay bales.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

14 Responses to How to make HO scale hay bales

  1. NJ Mark says:

    Thanks to all for sharing their craftsmanship and the wonderful video! The “aerial” view of the layout was simply grand. Cheers! NJ Mark

  2. Choochoo52 says:

    All are absolutely amazing. Love both the layout and the video.

  3. choochoo52 says:

    Bye the way the hay bale how too gave me an idea for square bales. Thanks

  4. Ralph berry says:

    Great hay bales, great aerial view of a layout.
    What a marvelous video of big US steam in action.

  5. John Knobloch says:

    Great idea on making hay bales. I will use your process in the future when im working on my farm scenes. Ty!

  6. Joe DeFranco says:


    Thanks for the Golden Spike report. Well done. It reminds me of a memorable round trip I took, Denver to Sterling CO, high balling behind 844 in 1980. Ten photo run-bys and no diesel assist.

    Norwalk CT USA

  7. Bob W says:

    Wow – thanx to all, but especially to Richard for sharing the video of ALCO Union Pacific “Big Boy” 4014 & 844… a truly awesome sight…

    -Bob W (NH, USA)

  8. Paul F Diffley says:

    Wonderful to see vicariously the steam giants. Thank you for sharing!

    Paul D (CA USA)

  9. Fred Cook says:

    I work in N scale and since most of the hay bales in Ontario are wrapped in white plastic I make my hay bales out of the appropriate size of doweling painted white with the ends left wood colour. They look fine when dotted over a freshly cut field just the way a baler would have left them.

  10. Dominic Joseph Radanovich says:

    Liked everything I saw in this blog. The aerial view of the switching layout, at first I thought it was the real thing. The pink area gave it away. It reminds me of the time I was flying into Durango Colorado and how the rail yards, round house and out buildings looked like a model layout. Great stuff!!!
    Thanks so much.
    D.J.Radanovich, Milwaukee.

  11. Bill Holt says:

    Hay balers unite !! Good know stuff.


  12. George Zaky says:

    Thanks for the easy clever tip for bale making
    The big boy cant do it alone! Incredible. Thanks for the fantastic video
    You did this without a CAD program? Were those manual #8 turnouts? Smooth. You da man!
    Big Al

  13. Graeme COLEMAN says:

    Great hay bales, though I am doing n-scale I will simply use less hemp each time I roll it on. Thanks for such a easy way to do it.

  14. Will in NM says:

    Paul, nice hay bale how-to. I think if I needed a lot of HO scale bales, I’d use a wooden skewer for the center instead of a toothpick.

    Richard, Great video of the 4014 and 844. I had hoped to make the trip to Sparks Nevada to see them last year, but that’s when gas prices spiked and my wife and I both came down with Covid. My stepson lives in Corrine, so maybe one of these years we’ll get up there.

    Bill, Awesome view of your switching layout! It reminds me of one of the first HO layouts I saw in 7th grade in Boy’s Life magazine: it was an aerial view of a finished 4×8 layout that set me to dreaming about building my own.

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