I had wanted a war games table for years but had put off making one for all sorts of reasons: it was too expensive, it was too difficult to make; I didn’t have anywhere to put it; I couldn’t make up my mind what sort of table it should be – themed for a particular period and so on which resulted in the fact that I only played war games at Warhammer world. Not a bad venue, to be sure, but recent changes in policy there left me with the feeling that it was time to be independent (to get a flavour of the GW policy have a look at the following thread……)
So this Spring, I put all caution aside and decided to build my own Table where I could invite friends to play with what ever rules and figures that we had decided to use. To be fair, there was a further misunderstanding at home that nearly stopped the whole project. The conversation went like this:
Julie ‘what are we doing this weekend’
Me ‘I’m sorting out a Table’
Julie ‘Oh good! It’s Mothers day, where are you taking me?’
Me ‘ah….it’s not that sort of a table…’
Anyway, once we had sorted that misunderstanding out I could proceed with my plans and as it turns out, The Queens Medical Centre A&E department is very close to B&Q in Nottingham so I could combine two trips into one.
So what’s all this about B&Q. No, I’m not on their payroll but the best place to get the materials that you need for a war games table is at your local DIY shop. This is modelling on a big scale and you need big quantities of materials and on this occasion the DIY shop is even better than Arcane Scenery – but only on this occasion!
I had decided to build a 6 foot by 4 foot table, about the right size for most medium sized battles. First on the shopping list was the board itself. I went for ½ inch chip board but MDF would have been fine. B&Q will cut the sheet to size free of charge and you still have the off cuts for other projects (may be more on that later!). You also need some Battens for reinforcing or bracing the table so that it doesn’t warp or sag when you are leaning on it. I used 1 1/4” by ¾” softwood. To fix the battens to the bottom of the table, I used No More Nails glue and then screwed them on for extra strength. Obviously you need to cut the battens to size and as well as fixing them to the sides and the ends of the table, a couple of battens across the centre will also add strength. So if the table is 6 foot long you need about 12 foot of batten for the side and for the width ( 4 foot) you will ideally need about 16 foot, that two battens per end & two across the middle for extra support. Hopefully the pictures make it a bit clearer.
Cutting the battens is straight forward enough, Just carefully measure everything, test fit it and then slap on the no more nails and glue them on. Let then set and then drill pilot holes for the screws and screw the battens down. You’ll be finished in a couple of hours and then it’s time for a cup of tea while things dry a bit more.
The next job is to sand the table. So also on the shopping list at B&Q is a big tub of decorators PVA glue and some nice sand (The best quality is the kids sand pit sand or builders fine sand) I prefer a fine sand as you get a texture but it’s not too pronounced and your modular scenery can stand on it nicely. Lay your table out flat preferably on top of a covering of newspaper. Using a nice big decorating brush or wallpaper brush, cover the whole table in a nice thick coat of PVA glue. Whilst the glue is still nice and wet, cover it liberally in the sand – just give it a good tick coat. There’s nothing else that you can do now until the whole thing dries out so leave it overnight.
The next day, carefully lift the table at one edge ( and I mean carefully, it will be heavy and you don’t want to put your back out or crack the table) and let all the excess sand run off onto the newspaper. Give the table a light brush using the wife’s dust pan & brush ( remember to deny all knowledge later) and the table is now ready for painting.
I used the B&Q emulsion called ‘Dehli Bazaar II’. It’s a nice earthy brown, and probably was originally named ‘**** colour dim’ but some marketing guru came up with the fancier name – I think that my version is more of an accurate description of the colour. Using emulsion paint is a very economical way of painting large areas of scenery and B&Q have a paint matching service so if ever you want to replicate the colour that you are using on your figure bases this is the way to do it ( for more info take a look at my previous blog article) Once the first coat has dried, lightening up the dehli Bazaar with some white or magnolia emulsion and give the whole table a dry brush using the lighter mix. This will bring out the texture of the sand. You may need a couple of coats and each time lighten the mix. Once you are happy the table is nearly done.
The final job is to add some additional texture to make the table more interesting. I used Javis coarse grass to create some fields, and grass areas. Once again coat the areas with PVA glue, sprinkle liberally with the Javis coarse grass, leave to dry and then brush off the excess to use again.
Hey presto! You now have a basic war game table ready to use. As I was using mine in the garage I affixed a batten to the wall, attached the table to the batten and made a set of legs for the other end. This was all very basic woodworking, and hopefully the pictures will give you an idea of how this was done. How you use your table is up to you; the simplest way is to rest it on top of another table and when not in use your war games table can be leant against a convenient wall. The whole project cost no more than £65 and I’ve still plenty of PVA glue, sand and wood left for future projects. The next part of the project will be to create some modular scenery, and we’ll cover that in a future article.