Yesterday I started working on the new terrain modules for Gathering in the Desert 2011 and being inspired by a few of the tables I saw at the Mayhem in the Mountains event I came home wanting to build a Isengard table. Here is the board that gave me the inspiration to build a table for GitD 2011.
One thing that I have noticed while being a gamer and a builder of terrain is that terrain gets beaten up pretty badly. In fact I built a few terrain boards years ago for Imperial Outpost Games and it is starting to show it's age from constant use (sorry no pictures, just go to Imperial Outpost and take a look). So they have to be repaired pretty regularly.
The other thing that I have noticed is with 2'x4' modules is that they tend to move around while on the table. Players may bump them and they separate and models may move. I noticed this up in Parker at MitM.
So I set out to try to combat both of these problems with these new boards. Also these would be test boards for my Pirate town that I want to build (yes it is still planned!) So on Friday I went out to Home Depot & Lowes and picked up the necessary materials (4, 2'x4' MDF boards, 8 sheets of Dow Blue foam 2'x8'x1" and 8, 2"x2"x8' sticks of lumber). All in all it cost about $60.00 in materials.
I enlisted my good friend Mike Papa to help assemble these boards. Mike is in the wood working industry doing high end woodworking and he is precis about any woodworking. So early Saturday morning I met him at his shop so we could start construction. The first thing Mike said to me was "You bought the wrong size lumber!" As soon as he said that I knew what he was talking about, you see I wanted the sides to be 2" tall since I wanted to be able to carve into the foam and I bought 2"x2" which are more like a 1 3/4" tall! So before we started anything we went back to Lowes to return the lumber and pick up 8, 2"x4"X8". Now Mike had a plan, that we would cut down the 2"x4"s into the right size that we needed.
Now the process of cutting down and milling down the 2"x4"s took us about an hour or so. Once we had the right size and straight lumber we got to assembly pretty quickly. Remember when I said that Mike is precis about his woodworking, well he treated this like a piece of high end furniture. We trimmed and did a rough sanding on the boards and they are dead on straight and level, it almost a shame that I am going to make a mess of these when I texture the boards!
Anyway, here is a completed shot of 2 of the boards done and awaiting blue foam. So now I have four 2'x4' terrain modules for use.
Now as Mike and I were assembling these, I told him about the issues of the boards moving and what would he suggest. Mike said we could do two things, first we could use biscuits to keep the boards from moving, so he pulled out a biscuit cutter and we cut two slots for biscuits. Nice thing is that these fit nice and snug and keep the boards from moving.
And the second thing was to attach a few hasps to lock all the boards together. With the combination of the biscuits and the hasps, these boards do not move at all.
One thing I was concerned about was the weight and these things only weigh about 4lbs each. Once the foam goes in and the groundwork I am guessing that these are going to come in at around 6lbs each, which is not too bad. The one thing that I would do different is to go with Mike's suggestion and use poplar wood instead of the fir 2"x4"s, it is a much harder wood and takes paint rather well.
So there you have it, Isengard is taking shape (sort of anyway) for GitD 2011, next up will be the laying down of the foam and the carving, so stay tuned.