Building a Display Board: Part 1

Last year at the Big Waaagh! I got ridiculously annoyed with my little fighting men when I had to repeatedly take them out/put them back in my foam carrying cases, so this year I’m building a display board that will also function as a more easily arranged form of transport.

The general theme of my bases has been snow and rocks, so I decided to do a snow scene, rolling hills with interspersed trees. I’m a teacher, and I cannibalized some terrain trees from student projects. I also purchased a very large piece of insulation foam from the hardware store. (I got some peculiar looks as I broke the 4’ x 8’ piece into smaller pieces in order to fit it in my less-than-roomy Civic.) I also purchased/used some other supplies from a craft store/my garage. Here’s a list:

1. 4’x8’ piece of insulation foam (remove the plastic coating)
2. 2 cans of white primer
3. 1 can of matte finish
4. Craft glue
5. Spray-on glue
6. Large container of scenery snow
7. Foam cutter
8. 2’x3’ piece of mdf
9. 2-2”x1”x6’ pieces of wood
10. Wood stain
11. Wood glue

The first thing I did was lay out my army on the floor to figure out about how large of a base I would need. I wanted a series of action poses, so it wound up being larger than is absolutely necessary. (I may regret this as I lug it around.) I settled on a 2’x 3’ space with elevations toward the back to position Heavy choices with a clear field of vision.

When I got the foam home, I set a piece on two sawhorses and marked out a rough sketch of the shape for my topmost layer. (I had decided upon three layers of foam, representing two hills rising out of the lowlands. This would prevent my rearward models from being blocked by my LR Redeemer, which simply must be in the front.) I decided to start with the topmost layer because I thought this would allow me to ensure that it was large enough to hold a tank. I limited myself to about 8” per level, essentially dividing the board into three sections.

I then heated up the foam cutter and began melting some plastic. I positioned the cutter at a 45 degree angle so that I could get a sloped effect. (Note: The foam cutter I got was simply a single piece of tubular metal with a heating element. It tended to level rounded indentions if I let it rest too long in one spot. That being said, it did not care for being forced, so it was a fine balance. Also, make sure that each of your levels has at least 2 of the manufactured straight edges because no matter how steady your hand is it is remarkably difficult to make a straight line through foam. I used a clamped piece of wood as a guide, and I still couldn’t get it perfect.

After I finished the top level, I placed that piece onto a slightly larger piece of foam and traced the next “hill’s” outline, extending it approximately 8” out. I also extended the hill on the right flank so that it wasn’t simply a series of descending hills. I used the same cutting technique on this level.

Lastly, I cut out a 2’x3’ piece of foam for the bottom layer, though I did place the top two pieces on it first to mark the straight edge I would need to cut. I knew my first two pieces were likely a little off with the wackiness of foam cutting, so I wanted to keep them all the same width.

I spread glue on the bottom of the top two pieces, lined up the corners, and set books on top of the foam to ensure a good hold.

Next time I’ll talk about how I made it look like snow. Well… sort of.

Later, Monkey