If you are interested in wargaming and making terrain, one of the first things you will undoubtedly think of doing is building a game board or gaming table. There's not much point in making terrain if there is nowhere for it to go! With that in mind I have a couple of videos for you this time giving two methods of making a gaming table or board. Both are from the excellent www.miniwargaming.com (well, one from them and one from their new UK store, www.miniwargaming.co.uk). They both give slightly different takes on the same thing – with the UK version having a clever reversible table top. Take a look at these, then I'll tell you how I built a gaming table for my son to use and offer my thoughts on this.

Both of these are very viable ways of making a gaming table – and I think the first thing you really need to do is decide what it is you actually need. Firstly, how big does the table need to be? If you are space limited, you may be happy with a 4' x 4' table, but if you've the room, you may want to go with a standard 6' x 4' table. How permanent does it need to be, have you got somewhere you can leave it permanently set up, or does it need to be moved out of the way? What playing surface do you want – plain painted, battle mat, fully sculpted, textured and painted– there are many options that need to be considered. Tackling the first question, if you've got the room you'll probably want to add legs to your table as per the UK video (from Ikea by the way). If the table needs to be movable, you may be better off with a board with out legs that can sit on top of an existing table. Another alternative here is to use legs that the board can rest on with out actually being permanently attached. This is the approach I went for and I found some very handy legs designed for exactly this in Ikea. They are for supporting an Ikea flat board table, and work very well for our purposes – the table can be easily lifted off these and stored vertically out of the way. Of course, if you are the sort of gamer that likes to lean on your table when playing – this approach may not be best for you!

My own table is a 4' x 4' for space reasons, though I'm going to add another fold out 2' x 4' section on to it shortly. It is constructed of a timber frame and plywood top pretty much as shown in the video. I prefer plywood to chipboard for the table top as it is light (certainly in the 0.5” / 1cm approx) thickness I used especially compared to chipboard. It is also tough, but does have a tendency to warp so must be braced and screwed to the bracing timbers as shown in the video. I countersunk the screws slightly and then blobbed filler over them to hide them. You can get plywood cut to the size you require in many DIY stores. Alternatively – a 6' x 4' chunk of plywood not being the easiest thing to transport – you can get ready cut 2' x 4' sections (in Wickes in the UK for a start). Other differences were I used mitered joints on the timber (thats what those 45 degree joints are called on the UK video!) and slightly thicker timber for my bracing. I also used planed timber. Its more expensive, but less likely to give you splinters! You could always plane/ sand down the rougher cheaper timber if you preferred.

The table surface I textured and painted. To do this, you will need some PVA adhesive (wood glue / white glue). Mix this with water (approx 60 / 40 glue to water works well I find) in a suitable container. Its quite a good idea to use something like a jar with a well fitting lid, as you'll undoubtedly want to use the watered down mix in other wargames terrain making projects in the future. Brush your glue on to the table top, working a small section of the board at a time. Next, sprinkle / pour your texturing material on to the glued area, ensuring you have even coverage. Don't go right up to the edges of the glued section, leave a gap so you can expand on the glued area for your next section. To texture the board, you can use sand as your texturing material. I use kiln dried block paving sand 9designed to be brushed into the gaps between paving blocks) as I find this gives a good but subtle textured effect. You can use any sand you fancy really, but it must be dry and preferably not the strongly coloured sort as this may bleed colour through on to the resulting surface. When dry, turn the board on edge and knock off any loose sand. Any bare patches can be retreated at this point. The gaming board can then be painted with ordinary household emulsion paints or spray paints as you like. I used emulsion, then drybrushed the surface with other colours, finally finishing with a dusting from an aerosol paint spray (to do this, move the can faster and from a much greater distance from the surface than it suggests, so you lay down a thin mist of paint). I also put some rocks etc directly on the surface, but these may be going soon as they are restricting in some ways.

There are plenty of alternative ways to finish your table top. You could just glue a battle mat on the surface, or maybe flock it. If you want to do the latter, first paint the table top in a colour that will work with the flock (especially as some comes off it in use!), then use pva glue as described above, using flock instead of sand. There's nothing to stop you just painting the table to suit, but I think a bit of subtle texturing enhances the effect. If you wan to get really fancy, you can build fully sculpted tables tops out of Styrofoam, but that's something for another post and another day.

I hope you've found this useful – if you 've got any gaming table making tips, please feel free to leave a comment.


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