At last I'm getting round to making a proper gaming table! I bought my first house in November 2012, after moving from the sunny, picturesque rural lands of the North East of England (Northumberland) to the slightly sunnier,  slightly more picturesque and a whole lot more rural west cost in Cumbria. Since then I've settled into my new house with my lovely fiancée Judith, I've even found a wonderful gaming group The West Coast Gamers who've made me feel right at home. Even though I'm lucky enough to have a club to play at (and used to play at another back in Northumberland) It's always been a goal of mine to have my own gaming table. In the past (read as "in my parents house") I've not been able to have one (somebody find me a tiny violin!). Now I've got my own home though, I've decided it's time to take the plunge and make my own gaming table!

The plan, and the board

I don't have the luxury to be able to have a permanently set up table, but I am fortunate to be able to have a garage which has electricity! So, That means I can have at least a "part time" set up, and have room to store the pieces when not in use. First of all, I needed a table. Something to put the board on, my first thought ran to "school dinner" type tables, the folding type that are in pretty much every school in the UK. Then I saw the cost of them, and the notion quickly escaped me. I then turned to ebay and amazon, where I found a folding table for a very reasonable price, and after looking at the feedback I decided to give it a go. This is the table I purchased:
table

table

This table will act as the base for the board, it's light, and folds up so it can be easily stored, and its a pretty standard table, so I can use it for other tasks outside of wargaming. It only cost about £30, which is pretty cheap, and it is very good quality. For the use I'll (hopefully) get out of it it's been a bargain. For the gaming table itself I'll be using Insulation foam, I bought this from Wickes in Newcastle as I've used it before. It's called "space board eco", with a name like that it just cries out to be used for wargaming! Each board measures 1200mm(l) x 500mm(w) x 60mm(d) the 60mm depth is the key here, as it's foam, but thick, it's very durable but still very light. As the average gaming table is approximately 6' x 4' that means 4 of these side by side gives you a 6' x 4' table. The exact dimensions mean it's actually slightly longer than 6', and 1" shorter than 4' wide, but in reality I doubt very much that anyone will care. And at £8 per sheet, four of them is only £32. I could have opted for MDF, a 6' x 4' sheet of MDF would probably have been cheaper, but, that would warp when painted unless I got the really thick stuff. and it would weigh far too much to be manageable. The £32 for the 4 sheets was well worth it in my opinion. Space Board eco As you can see above, the four sheets laid side by side on top of the cheap table do a great job. But this is just the beginning! There is much work to be done from here!
wrapping the gaming table sections

wrapping the gaming table sections

To make the boards stronger I wrapped them in Duct tape. Just round the edges. This foam is tough stuff, but I'm going to be moving these boards around a lot and they will most likely get bashed about a bit, especially on the corners. Duct tape will help protect them, and gives a nice finish to the edges of the board.
one complete gaming table section wrapped

one complete gaming table section wrapped

I overlapped the duct tape about 10mm to offer a little more protection and give a nice edge. I needed to wrap round twice on each board. I bought two rolls of Duct tape from Wilkinsons, I think they were about £3 each. I used one complete roll, and just started the second one. one complete wrapped board.
all four gaming table boards wrapped

all four gaming table boards wrapped

With the four pieces wrapped I can now theoretically start gaming! I already have a Citadel battlemat which I can put on the board and use my existing terrain.
gaming mat

gaming mat

  But this isn't how I want this board to end up. I would like in the end to have a modular table which will fit both 15mm and 28mm world war 2 games. This might sound ambitious, and a little mad. but I already use my current terrain collection to fit very well with both scales. Only the buildings differ. A large bocage hedge in 15mm fits as a normal sized hedge in 28mm, and things like roads and rivers come in all shapes and sizes. A large river in 15mm is a small stream in 28mm etc. Here's a couple of pictures of my current terrain collection (everything you see in these pictures is scratch built, with the exception of the buildings)
hedges

hedges

rivers

rivers

roads

roads

barbed wire

barbed wire

full collection laid out

full collection laid out

As everything here is in sections I can lay these pieces out in any order I wish. This gives me lots of different options (practically limitless) for how I lay out the board. This has always been handy when playing different systems at different clubs and having to pack everything up at the end of the days gaming. This type of board never looks as good as a static layout though.
terrain box

terrain box

Everything from the last photo (with the exception of the boards obviously!) fits neatly into this tool box. Very handy for travelling to different clubs and can be stored safely in the garage between games. This table though, I want to be semi static. As I want to use this for both 28mm and 15mm I'll need some elements to change. I want to make it so I can have different layouts, which is the tricky part, but also so that buildings (the bits that look out of place in different scales) can also be easily changed. The plan so far looks a bit like this:
gaming table layout plan

gaming table layout plan

As you can see, I've split the table into four sections, then marked on how I want to lay it out. I've also marked on the roads and done it so that they are at the same points, so that the board can be laid in different configurations and the roads will still match up. Where the buildings are marked in grey, I will cut a recess into the foam, and paint it black or something similar. Then I'll make buildings to fit the hole. So in 28mm that might be one building, but in 15mm the footprint might allow for two buildings side by side. This means whatever scale I'm playing on, I just need to fit the correct building into place. Eventually, once this table has been built I will add further sections to it, I may end up with 6 or 7 sections where I can interchange between them and have various layouts. But with each section being so large, it's as close to a static layout as I can get while still being portable. I hope to also use this game at at least one wargames show this year. Most likely in 28mm with my British paras against some germans (I have yet to paint!) This is the plan anyway. I'll write another post soon when I've actually started the build itself! Hope you've enjoyed the post. You can check out some of my other terrain posts by clicking the terrain link at the top of the page if you are interested in seeing more of my terrain. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you like what you see! Thanks. Chris

2 Responses

  1. Nick Von Cover

    Great project! I’ve often found that time spent in planning definitely pays off in the results and it sure looks like you’ve done some thinking. I look forward to following your progress, and seeing how you resolve the 15 mm/28 mm requirements.

    While I’ve gotten nowhere near implementation, I’ve noodled on doing this kind of thing myself. Two thoughts that I’ve had, if you can, you may want to put some positioning blocks on the bottom of the foam panels so that they are firmly lodged against your table edges. Also, you may want to consider some sort of key and slot system so that the panels hold onto each other (look at how woodworkers use biscuits for inspiration, though without the glue of course).

    Oh, and you’re right about the MDF. It would weigh a ton.

    Nick blogs at Spotting Round.

    Reply

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