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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Making a Modular Multi-Level Gaming Table, Part 2

You may remember that we left the modular table with two empty frames previously to be able to create some negative-depth landscape. Before I got onto that, however, I decided to paint the edges of the frames using black emulsion.

This is after one coat, I gave them two to ensure an even black finish. With that done, the next thing to do was to create a negative-depth frame. With another piece of hardboard, I marked out a 12" square inset 4" from one corner. I then used a 10mm drill bit to drill and entry point in the hardboard for the jigsaw.

Next I cut out the square

Leaving an even hole in the hardboard, so;

I then attached this to the frame in the same way I had with the intact pieces.

Now, to create the negative-space, I needed to re-attach the piece I'd just cut out, but at a lower level. Fortunately I still had the remnants from cutting the frames.

Of course these would be too large if used as they were, so had to be trimmed a little to accommodate the extra depth of the hardboard, otherwise they would protrude beyond the depth of the frame.

These trimmed pieces were attached to the cut-out...

...and then to the main piece. Voila! A hole with a bottom!

Of course, the hole needed more than this, but as the next part of the work was indoors, I needed to add a little protection to the frames so that they wouldn't damage the kitchen table either during further work, or in their gaming lifetime. This helps my wife tolerate my hobbies and keep our marriage intact!

So, protection comes in this form;

It's a piece of black felt, available from most fabric shops for about 50p a piece. I bought 5 pieces, just in case, but each almost does two squares. The next step is to cut the felt into strips - I used a rotary cutter as it stops the felt stretching.

The strips are then glued with PVA glue to the bottom of the frames

I glued several small pieces to the bottom of the "negative" space too.

OK, table and partner sanity preserved and wrath pre-empted, progress could be made on making the negative terrain look less like an elevator shaft. This starts by blocking in the sides with polystyrene, roughly cut to size.

Additional pieces were then cut and glued in so that it would have some form and a "ramp" of rock and earth going down to the bottom.

As you can see, this was all secured with copious quantities of white glue. At this stage it looks less like terrain and more like some sort of shipping crate accident, but were making progress. Honest! This was left for a couple of days to set before continuing.

The next purchase is some standard household filler - I used one suitable for indoor and outdoor use as it's pretty robust.

But before we get to that, we need to sculpt the polystyrene a bit. For this I used a large soldering iron - you might have a better, purpose-made tool, but this works.

Make sure your work area is well-ventilated, as the fumes of melted/vaporised polystyrene are both unpleasant and toxic. Using the soldering iron, I took off the square edges of the polystyrene and carved vertical scars and clefts in what would become the rock face.

A lot more of this later, and we were ready for filler!

For the filler I took white glue, diluted with water, and filler....

...and mixed to an even consistency.

I then took standard toilet paper;

Take a sheet, put it in the filler mixture and apply to the polystyrene. The tissue helps give a support structure to the filler and increases the resistance to cracking later on (as does the white glue).

Repeat this until you feel everything has a pretty even layer. Don't apply too thick as it will take forever to dry - better to build up in layers.

Once that is almost dry, I then diluted some white glue 50/50 in water

And applied with a brush to areas of the terrain;

Individual sheets of tissue were then laid on these and pressed down with a light stabbing action of the brush.

This was repeated across the terrain

This softens the features somewhat and strengthens everything a bit more. I then added some filler powder to the remaining glue/water mix...

...and painted this on areas I felt needed it. Now time to leave it to dry completely before Part 3!