Friday, February 24, 2017

Blue's Modular Table Part I we are again...Its been awhile!

Nice to See ya!

Sorry its been so long...but trust me I haven't been idle.  Though my Unit of Pike dwarfs languishes on the painting table waiting for my attention...I have been distracted by another aspect of our hobby...Terrain Building.

Making some proper terrain has long been on my list of things to get done and I was finally inspired to get started a couple of weeks ago.

The logical place start, for me, is a modular gaming table...small panels of which I could also use as photographic bases.  After much searching online and reading more blogs and forum posts on the topic than I can remember...I settled on a "system" to follow.  I remember seeing the Quindia Studios modular terrain board series a couple of years ago when I was starting to explore the idea of a proper game table...and it was to this series of blog posts that I returned now.

Clarence, of Quindia Studios, has one of the more complete, step-by-step descriptions of how to pull this off.  I have chosen to follow Clarence's process quite closely...with a few exceptions...if you are unfamiliar with his blog you should certainly check it out here:  Quindia Studios Modular Terrain Boards  There are 12 blog posts about his process...all well worth a read.  Most of what I say and do in this post...and those to pretty much a rehash of Clarence's work...I strongly suggest you read the source material at the Quindia Studios Blog before following my shoddy example...

One of the first changes I made to Clarence's system was in the size of the individual boards I would make.  Quindia Chose to make 2'x4' panels...I chose to do 2'x'2'.  Why?  Well to be honest with you I happened to find 8 perfect 2'x2' 1-inch thick green foam panels in the dumpster at work!  While a larger number of small tiles does mean more seams on the battlefield...this is my first go at all this...and the cheapskate in me just couldn't pass up the "free-ness" of those boards...:)

With this decision made I went into planning mode...I wanted enough tiles to make a 6'x4'...therefore I needed at least six tiles.  I also wanted a hill that could accommodate a small boarder fortress as well as a few others hills and a couple of roads.  For my first set of tiles I opted to avoid making any river sections.  I will add more tiles to this set later that include river pieces...I didn't want to bite off more than I could chew right off the bat.  That said I did plan on one small water feature...a pond or swamp.

Here is a rough sketch I made up on Post-It notes...each representing a 2'x2' tile.

that give us the following tiles:
  1. S-curve Road
  2. Large Castle Hill 
  3. Farmstead Road 
  4. Open Terrain
  5. Small Castle Hill
  6. Big Hill and Pond
As you can see tiles 2 and 5 make the large, low, hill that the boarder fortress can fit on.  Tile 6 has a much taller hill and the aforementioned water feature.

...but before I get to carried away with the design I needed to build the individual tiles.  So in addition to the free foam boards I found, I purchased six 2'x2' 1/2-inch mdf boards for backing. To frame the foam panels I ripped some old shelving planks I had in the garage down to 1" square battens (I used the table saw at work).  I also bought a new bottle of wood glue and some 1" wood screws.

First task was to cut the battens to length and get them glued on.  I used a thin bead of wood glue and two clamps per batten to hold them in place. 

After a couple of hours when the battens were secure (though not fully dry) I took off the clamps and flipped the panels over, then drove three wood screws into each batten into pre-drilled counter sunk holes.  Between the wood glue and these screws this frame is very sturdy.
My able assistant...and a completed frame.
 Once all the frames had been made and fastened to the mdf boards, I cut the foam planks to fit inside the frames.  To make these cuts I used a hot wire cutter and a couple of long battens as straight edge guides.  This worked well and made very clean cuts...but...the extra abrasion on the wire did cause it to break a couple of time over the 12 cuts I had to make to complete this step of the process.

 I then test fit each panel into its frame and carried out any additional trimming that needed to be done to insure a good fit.

Once I was confident that they would fit securely I applied a liberal amount of wood glue to the bottom of the foam board and nestled it into the frame.  To ensure a good bond I then weighed down the foam with piles of books and other heavy things...then set them aside to dry for a full day.

So after a couple of evenings of work I had six completed, framed tiles ready for the next step.

Up next we start to get some of that design work onto the tiles.




  1. I started to read you blog post Blue, but after you recommended Quinda studios and you told us your's was "shoddy" I stopped reading and went across to his site instead. Just kidding mate :P

    Looking forward to seeing them flocked & painted up :)

  2. This brings back memories. Good luck with your project Blue.

    1. Thanks DF! Your many blog posts on your table are also a massive inspiration.

  3. I'm jealous of your table and your garage space!

  4. Looking good Blue, thanks for reacquainting me with the Quindia articles. I have also been eyeing 2x2 pink foam at Home Depot. I think the smaller size makes storage and transport a tad easier.

  5. Woooo! I love what you're doing! I wish I had the resources. Well, and the time. Oh, and the skills.
    Oh, so jealous!!

  6. Thanks for the link and I'm glad the articles can be of use. Looking forward to seeing your progress!

    1. Thanks Clarence! I'm having a lot of fun and learning a lot as I go forward...thanks for laying it out so clearly.

  7. I'm Stephen Tunmore, from Tunnies Terrain, I have done a similiar method before and a tutorial will be published in issue 89 of Wargames, Soldiers,Strategy magazine. I admit I asked a carpenter to make the trays for me with 4mm plywood for the base, which I could cut myself, as opposed to MDF, which I could not. In issue 92, I hope to have similar with 'snow and ice' scenery