Sunday, January 26, 2014

Desert Table - 15mm SciFi WIP

Here are some shots of the 3'x3' desert table I built for my 15mm Sci-Fi project.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, this was built with some leftover lumber I had on hand from a home remodeling project I completed last summer.  The table is made to be set on another table, either the small card table in the pics or some other suitable surface.  The basic materials are a piece of 1/4 inch underlayment board (plywood) and a couple of 8' 1x2s.
After measuring and cutting out all the parts, the plywood was attached to the1x2s with air nailed staples and brads.
Then I filled the holes with wood putty and  gave everything a sanding with 220 grit sandpaper.

Back side showing 1x2s.
Eventually I will put another piece of plywood on this side and make another terrain surface.
I'm thinking of maybe a Martian red type surface or maybe blacks/greys for an urban layout.
After the sanding I painted a base coat of "Desert Yellow".
I went to Menard's and bought a quart of paint that closely matched Vallejo's Model Color Desert Yellow.
You might notice that I masked off the sides of the table to leave a clean edge.
I neglected to take pics but after the base coat I mixed some of the "Desert Yellow" from Menard's with a bunch of old model railroad ballast I had on hand to make a textured paint.  I then painted a coat of this over the base coat to give the surface a gritty texture.  Next I mixed some of the Menard's "Desert Yellow" with some Ivory (off-white) craft paint and dry-brushed some highlights over the gritty surface.  Then I went to work with some flocking and pale grey fine ballast I had.

The desert surface with texture, flock and some scattered areas of ballast.
I sprayed a mix of white glue and water over everything to hold it in place.
Once the glue dried I rolled on a coat of Minwax Polycrylic clear satin finish.
This gives the whole thing a very durable, hard finish.  It also keeps the flock and terrain texture from flaking off over time.
A close up of the finish.  It doesn't shine too much because of the texture.
If the satin is a bit shiny you could spray on a matte finish but I don't think it's necessary here.
And there it is!
Ready for some of the terrain I've been working on.
This was a very simple build and I used techniques I've used on other tables so it went quickly.  I'm satisfied with it and it should provide me with years of use.  I have the advantage of a fairly complete woodworking shop and some handy tools.  However, a simple table overlay like this is well within the reach of anyone with some basic skill at measuring, sawing and nailing.  If you do build something like this I recommend you take measures to protect whatever surface you lay it upon for game play.  You sure wouldn't want to scratch up the dining room table!

Until next time, carry on!


  1. A 15mm Sci Fi desert board is Just the thing. I feel I should endeavour to make one this year. At least I am thinking about it even if it gets no further than that.

    1. Thinking about it is always the first step. : )

  2. That's nicely done. Seems very sturdy. But a bit blank...where is the terrain? :P

    1. It is quite sturdy, and lighter than you may think. Lighter than a solid piece of thicker plywood would be. At any rate, this is only the table surface. I am in the process of building pieces of movable terrain - rock monoliths, areas of rough ground, buildings, etc. When it is all finished I will have a set up that can be used to create nearly any type of desert based terrain. Thanks for looking!

    2. It occurs to me you may have meant that question as a joke. Apologies if I was obtuse. : )

  3. Very nice. It wouldn't suit me as most of my games are out at the club so my stuff needs to be easily portable. But this is definitely what I would prefer over my tatty mats, all other things being equal.

    1. This is actually rather portable. It is lighter than you may imagine - the thin plywood is light but sturdy with the bracing. And it is easy to store - just stand it on edge and slide it into the back of a closet. Or it would be perfect to store under the bed. It might be a problem getting it into a small car or taking it on public transit though... : ) Thank for reading!

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you. I'm hopeful it will all come together with the terrain I'm building.

  5. Nice and effective, like your battening too, I tend to go square out of laziness, so it's nice to see someone not afraid of diagonals :)

    1. Thanks! I was mostly fooling around with miters just to see if I could do it. The joints are not real tight but it works fine.