Wednesday, March 30

Project Terra-forming: In the beginning...

As promised, here is the first installment of my Terra-forming articles.  In case you missed the first post, my plan is to build a new gaming table from the ground up and try to show people how easy it is to build.  I have a vision of a desert table with ruined buildings filled with sand, large rocks and sand dunes.  Possibly even some ruined vehicles too.  In this article I will explain the materials, cost and how I put together the basic frame and table top.  Even with the help of my 4 year old son this step only took about an hour.  So with out further ado we'll start with the material list:
  • 4'x8' sheet of hardboard 1/8" thick ($7.25 at my local Lowes)
  • four sticks of 1x2x8 Top Choice Lumber ($2.28 each at Lowes)
  • box of #6x1-1/2" wood screws ($4.58)
  • saw, preferably a miter saw
  • a drill
  • tape measure
  • wood glue
  • suitable place to make a mess
    Some of the tools I used.

So the first thing to do is cut down two of the pieces of lumber from 8' to 6'.  Then take two of the 8' pieces and cut four 46-1/2" pieces.  These are going to be the cross braces.  Take the two 2' sections and cut them in half.  These are going to the corner supports.

While your cutting, go ahead and take the 1' sections and cut 45 degrees on both ends in opposite directions.  These will fit into the corners of the frame and help give it more support.

Next step, go ahead and lay out your cut pieces as you see above.  The 6' lengths on the outside and the 46-1/2" pieces in between.  Place the two middle pieces 2' apart from the end pieces.  Then lay your corner supports in.  I pre-drilled all the holes before I put the screws in because sometimes when you screw into the end of board it will split, so better to be safe than sorry.  Once you've drilled and are happy with the layout go ahead and put the screws in.

One tip that I have figured out over the years is to spend an extra few minutes at the store trying to find the straightest boards you can.  This will help your frame be as square as possible.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, just ask your friendly store associate.  So now that your frame is together you can get ready to put on the hardboard.  When you purchase the hardboard, most major stores will make a cut for you, so have them go ahead and cut your hardboard down to six feet for you.  If you want, you can cut it yourself at home with a circular saw or table saw.  I cut mine with a circular saw, basically laid the frame on top of the hardboard to make sure it fit and marked it off.

Alright, almost done now.  Grab your wood glue and spread it out on the frame.  Lay your hardboard on top, I prefer putting the smooth side up.  I think it adheres to the frame better with the rough side down.  Next run some screws through the top into the frame to hold the hardboard in place while it dries.  I think I put one in each corner, one halfway up each side and one half way down the middle supports.  I had a few spots that the board was slightly warped and not touching the frame so I just ran a small 1" finishing nail into it to hold it down.  If you want, you can continue the finishing nails spread out around the frame for extra hold.

So there you have it!  Your basic table is built and ready to go.  The next step will be to choose your paint colors, add texture to the table top and get it painted.  Make sure you hold onto the extra hardboard, we'll use that for our terrain pieces coming up.  So for $16.50 in lumber, I hope you can see that building a table is a pretty easy endeavor and you give it a try.  Watch out for the next installment where I will texture the board and get it painted up.  Thanks for reading.

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