How to build a winter wargaming table

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In this tutorial, you will learn, how to build a winter wargaming table. The table will be lightweight and easy to store. To make it even handier, the whole table will be foldable!

A few months ago we held our Blood Eagle participation game at a local convention. This was the perfect opportunity for me, to build a new gaming table. I quickly made a list and visited the local hardware store. So let’s build a winter wargaming table!

In the first step, you have to cut the foam core to the proper size. In my case, the table should be 3″ x 3″. I used my hotwire cutter for the job, but a sharp knife will work too.

In the following step, you have to mark the exact places for your hinges. But you can’t simply place your hinges. You have to sink them. Otherwise, the table will not be plain. And nothing is more annoying than a wobbling gaming table! To sink the hinges, simply cut the foam board until the hinges disappear smoothly as shown in the picture below.

 How to build a winter wargaming table baseHow to build a winter wargaming table detail

After that, mark the places where you will have to set your anchors (wall plugs). You can drill the holes using a drilling machine or a screwdriver. If you use a drilling machine, be careful not to over penetrate the foam.

Now put the anchors in the holes. To make the connection more sturdy, I put some PVA on the anchors and in the holes. Wait until your PVA is completely dry. Then screw the hinges to the table. Now you should be able to fold your table smoothly. But be aware, that foam is not as sturdy as chipboard or any other kind of wood.

How to build a winter wargaming table - glueing the anchors How to build a winter wargaming table - screwing the chinches to the table

In the next step, we will build a frame for your gaming table. As mentioned above, the foam is not as sturdy as wood. So it is highly recommended, to strengthen the edges. I build the frame using beechwood. First, measure the edges, then cut the wood in the appropriate length.  After that, drill the holes for the screws. To add even more stability to the table, I recommend not to screw directly into the foam. Instead set anchors on the needed spots, using PVA. Let the glue dry completely, then screw the frame to the table.

 How to build a winter wargaming table - building the frameHow to build a winter wargaming table - anchor for the frame

Designing the gaming table

Draw certain spots like roads, rivers or lakes on the table. As you can see, I also engraved the little lake into the foam. But don’t just cut out the whole lake in one piece. This wouldn’t be realistic at all, because most natural lakes are not like that. Instead, cut out the edges and then break out small pieces so that the ground of our little lake remains uneven. For this task, I used a cutter and a screwdriver.

In the next step, you have to smoothen the surface. No matter how accurate you have screwed your frame to the table, there will be a small gap between the wood and the foam. It is not a big problem, but we will leveling it nonetheless because the end product will look much better. I used filler for this task. Applying it with a spatula or your fingers, but make sure not to go nuts. Our goal is a smooth surface!

How to build a winter wargaming table - designing the table How to build a winter wargaming table - smoothing the gaming table

Now you have to prime your gaming table. Why is this important? Well, we use our tables to play. In this process, the miniatures create friction to the table. It will be only a matter of time and small pieces of the grid will get loose and the table beneath will become visible. This problem can’t be solved completely. But by priming your table black, it is much less annoying. So, mix some black paint, PVA, and water and apply it to the table.

After the black mixture is dried up, it is time to add some structure to the table. As usual, apply some watered down PVA (50:50) to the gaming table. Than scatter grid of various grain sizes on the table. By applying one sort of grid after the other your table will look much more realistic.

One word of advice: don’t do your table in one piece. The water-PVA mix will contract and as a result, you will have spots without glue on the table. Obviously, no grid would stick there. To prevent this from happening, simply work your way from one-quarter of the table to the next. Following this method will also give you more time to work out little details.

In the following step, we will seal our grid. This step is time-consuming, but don’t skip it! Applying two or three turns of watered down PVA will fix your grid much better to the table. By doing so, it is much less likely that the grid will become loose again later. Just make sure, that the watered-down PVA is dry before you apply another layer.

I strongly advise sealing the table using a spray bottle. PVA is waterbased, so if you use a brush you will risk loosen up some of your grid. Besides that, the sprayer bottle let you seal the table much faster.

As you can see in the pictures below, I built a small road using fine cork too. Obviously, this step is just an example of adding more details.

How to build a winter wargaming table - applying grid to the gaming table How to build a winter wargaming table - applying grid to the gaming table detail

After the gaming table is sealed, it is time to add some paint. For the base color, I chose a brownish acrylic color. If you want to make your table even sturdier, add some water and PVA to the color. As you can see in the second image, I glued a small dock into my lake. Just another little detail to spice the table up.

After your base color is dried up, dry brush the whole table. This will give the table more depth. I used an acrylic sand color for the job. Because we will add some flock and snow later, one pass of dry brushing is enough.

How to build a winter wargaming table - applying the base color  How to build a winter wargaming table - dry brushing the game table

In the pictures below you can see the lake. Besides the dock, I also glued some stones into the lake. I also added some reed. The dock itself is scratch build using balsa wood. I like this material because it is workable. For example, you can easily engrave the planks.

I also painted the bottom of the lake using blue and green. Apply the colors wet to blend them in. The result will be much better. After the paint dried up, I applied Vallejo still water. Water effects are always tricky. If you apply too much at a time, it often breaks and the result looks terrible. So you can’t rush the process. Apply one thin layer and wait until it dried up completely. Then apply the next layer and so on.

How to build a winter wargaming table - building the dock How to build a winter wargaming table - adding more details to the lake

Winter is coming

Finally, it is time to apply flock to the gaming table. Obviously, we will have to apply the greenish flock before the snow. But in both cases, we will have to apply our PVA / water mixture (50/50) before.

One word of advice: If you don’t want your little lake to have a frozen look, you have to cover it, before you start spraying the glue! Due to the winter theme, I personally prefer the icy look. But, you have to decide for yourself.

Choose a variety of flocks, depending on the kind of nature you want to replicate. But don’t apply all your flock in one turn. It will look much better if you apply one flock after the other. And don’t throw the flock directly to the table. Instead, let it fall slowly to the table. While this method is messy, the flock itself will look much more random on your table. It is totally fine to spot some grid after you apply the flock. Don’t go crazy, your table shouldn’t be completely green like a football pitch.

Finally, it is time to add the snow. But be warned. While applying flock to a gaming table can be a mess, applying snow is much worse. So if you want to avoid a fight with your wife, better keep the vacuum cleaner nearby. Of course, it is even better to apply the snow while your lady is away and you have enough time to clean up the mess. Following this advice, you also won’t get in trouble for using her sieve from the kitchen to apply the snow. And this is highly recommended. So put your snow in the sieve and start to apply it gently. Of course, you have to apply the PVA / water mixture before. But don’t apply too much this time. Otherwise, the flock will lose its color and you will end up with greenish or brownish snow. Trust me, this looks horrible!

Personally, I used Noch Pulverschnee (powder snow in English), which is a German company for railroad model supply. I really liked this product, but there are other great products on the market. Just make sure, that you read the reviews of other customers carefully before you buy.

 How to build a winter wargaming table - applying flock to the gaming tableHow to build a winter wargaming table - applying snow to the gaming table

Finishing the winter wargaming table

We are almost at the end of our How to build a winter wargaming table tutorial. Now we finish the whole piece. In the first step, you have to seal the table at least 2 to 3 times using the PVA / water mixture and your sprayer bottle. Make sure not to apply too much at a time. After you have finished the sealing process, just remove any excessive flock from your table.

In the last step, we have to paint the frame of the table. I used a brownish indoor glaze.

The finished winter wargaming table

How to build a winter wargaming table - play testing on the finished gaming table How to build a winter wargaming table - wanderer on the lake How to build a winter wargaming table - folded gaming table How to build a winter wargaming table - warrior on the lake   How to build a winter wargaming table - water effectsHow to build a winter wargaming table - folded gaming table detail

I really enjoyed this project and I hope you like this tutorial on How to build a winter wargaming table too. Want to make your new gaming table even better? Read our tutorial on How to build a stone circle for wargaming!

If you have any comments or questions put them down in the comments. And as always happy wargaming!

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