Digging a Ditch

By Scarab

Tutorial Date 4/23/06


Well I got this idea from a WWII scene I once saw of an 88mm gun emplacement. Thought it would be a different way to build a trench. This is truly not a trench per say because it is above the ground, so we’ll just pretend. Please read the entire tutorial before doing the trench. This will give you an idea of how it is done before you commit any of your material or hard earned cash.

Techniques Used:
Dirt and Grass, Hammered Post


Quarter inch dowels

Eighth inch dowels

Quarter inch Masonite

White glue

Sifted sand


Foam cutter

Static grass

60 grain sand paper

Scroll saw


Rasp file




I first made a thumbnail sketch of how big I wanted it to be using some WM figs. After I determined the size I drew the outline on a piece of Masonite so I would have something to follow with the saw. Using the scroll saw I cut the Masonite and then I filed down the edges to give it sloped look. I grabbed my foam and using the cut out Masonite I drew the outline on the foam so I could start cutting the outside slopes. Before you cut your foam you want to determine whether or not you will have raised ground inside you trench. I wanted raised ground to also give my troops an advantage of elevation. This made it so I needed to have the outer dirt slope higher. Once the slopes were done I glued them in place with white glue thus forming my outer thrown up dirt. I measured the inside of the foam to get an idea of how long I wanted the dowels to be. I needed to remember that the middle would have raised dirt so they needed to rise above my outer dirt. After cutting the dowels I wanted to give them a hammered in look. I used 60 grain sand paper and ran the one side of the dowel over the sand paper. As I did this I rotated the dowel to make sure I covered all of the edges. You will want to cut your dowels in stages if you have slopes that move closer to the ground as I have done. All of my dowels are not the same length. I varied the lengths to give it a random feel.

I then wanted to give it a smooth look so I rubbed it on the Masonite a little. One of the NQ magazines shows a process for getting the same look using a hammer. I just wanted to show a different method. You can do whatever you like.

Now that I have my dowels ready and I am ready to start gluing them on the inside of the foam. Again, make sure you are random in your size and length. It looks better in my opinion.

Once I finished glue all the dowels in and letting them dry I filled in the middle of the trench with foam so I had elevation. I like to use playground sand out of my children’s sand box to use for the dirt. I sift it with a noodle strainer that has about a sixteenth of an inch cross-section or less. I want random rocks but not too large. Using the white glue I generously applied it to all of my dirt areas. After applying the sand I used dumbbells to weight it down so my wood would not warp.

After it is dry I go back and fill in any gaps I may have. After that I spray it all with a white primer.

I do a dark brown wash (half paint, half water) on the sand and poles first. I dry brush two lighter browns on the sand. I only dry brush one brown on the wood shaft. I do a lighter color on top of the poles. I also glue two colors of static grass in random fashion on the dirt while still leaving some dirt exposed. Throw some tall grass on there and you are done. Get some Longgunners or Widowmakers in there and start the blood bath. Enjoy!! If you have any questions please fill free to ask.