Balsa wood and bass wood have been great to work with in miniatures. Balsa wood is so soft and light that it can be cut through with a blade; bass wood is slightly more dense, but also versatile. You can find either at almost any craft store. They come in both strips and in thin sheets. Since my fences were going to have a lot of pickets, I opted for balsa wood to keep it light and easy.
I started by making marks in the balsa strip where I would cut. I’m not the most precise person in the world, so I just lined things up with the squares on my cutting mat to mark the sizes. Measuring would be better, of course, but this method turned out pretty well. I made my pickets about 2″ tall.
I wanted to get the most out of my balsa strips, so I lined the fence pickets up against each other to make my cuts.
I cut on my marks with just a regular razor blade. As long as it is sharp, you’ll get crisp edges. Here is one of the pickets just cut off the strip.
After I had a bunch of pickets cut, I lined up two thinner strips as my fence backing. I spaced them about 1″ apart.
Using the lines on my cutting mat as a guide, I placed each picket down with a dab of of glue. I used E6000 glue for this, but just about any glue works with balsa wood. The bottom of my pickets was slightly uneven, but I fixed this with a few passes over some fine sandpaper.
Since I wanted my fences to wrap around the house, I joined up two finished panels at a corner with another dab of glue. I left them standing upright to make sure they would sit squarely.
To install them, I stuck a little piece of wire in the bottom of a few pickets and pushed it into my foam base. If you’re using a solid base, they can be glued right down.
Balsa takes wood stain pretty well, if you want a different shade of natural-looking wood finish. I ended up using acrylic paint for mine, instead. I went with a thin coat of a reddish brown color (not pictured), and it has held up nice. This same fence can also be made with bass wood, but it will be a little heavier and more tedious to cut. Either one looks really nice!