Monday, February 6, 2017

Folding Game Board and Model Explosions

Throughout my life, my father has been an avid fan of figures, model kits and building small scenery.  In fact, he's been playing with such things since he himself was a little boy.

Yup, that's my Dad as a kid.  Throughout the years he's built multiple buildings, taverns, trees, bridges, rivers, walls and the such out of cardboard, balsa wood, paper, thin pieces of plastic and paint.  He calls this place "Peaceful Village" - which I always found funny since so much of the action in our Dungeons and Dragons games took place here.

Whenever my Father takes out these props for Peaceful Village, he places them on the dining room table with a piece of green felt on top - which is fine, but I'd like to make something for his Birthday - a playing board - so he can actually build streets, grass, sand, etc on it, instead of it looking like felt during his games.

I built a similar game board for my Star Trek & Star Wars miniatures games about a year prior...

This board is great, but it's a little too large and heavy for my Father to lug around whenever he wants.

So I designed a simple Game Board that is light weight and can fold up when not in use.  

Being able to fold up will be a space saver for him.  He can put it behind a door, or in a closet.

The materials I plan on using are 2 sheets of half-inch 2'x2' MDF...

and some 1x2 wood for the trim.

Both of these pieces make a 4-foot by 2-foot gaming board - more than enough for my father to build a nice scenery onto.

To connect the 2 boards I'll be using a piano hinge.

Since the MDF is pretty thin, I'll need a little more than screws to keep it together.  So I drew the outline of the hinge on one piece of the MDF...

...then I connected the 2 MDF boards, clamped them down, and traced the rest of the hinge onto the other board.

Next I mixed up some 5-minute epoxy...

...and covered the area for the hinge.

Then I put the hinge in place...

...and clamped them down with the help of some pieces of wood.

While the epoxy set, I cut down the 1x2 boards to manageable sizes.

Then when the epoxy had set, I drilled in small screws to reinforce the hinge.

Now it folds in half, and opens up flat.

Next I began marking the mitered cuts for the wood trim.

I set up the miter saw at 45-degrees and placed a stop block.

This made 4 pieces.  

The one end of each piece that isn't mitered will be where the trim ends on each half of the game board (where the hinging point is).

Then I made the cuts for the 2 end pieces.

Next I removed the MDF pieces and glued/nailed the trim together.

Having these 2 pieces already together will make it easier to attach to the MDF.

Once those frames were glued to the MDF, I attached many clamps to make sure it holds.  I unfortunately do not have nails large enough to go through the trim and MDF, so this will do until I buy more brad nails.

When the glue dried I removed the clamps and flipped the whole thing over.  There were a few areas that were not perfectly flush, so I sanded down those areas with my belt sander.

Then I cleaned up with some medium grit on my random orbital sander.  

I also rounded the edges of the trim with this sander.

Then I smoothed everything out with some fine sandpaper.

And it's looking good!

Next I decided to drill a hole through the end trims while the whole game board was folded up.

This allowed me to put a bolt and wing nut through both pieces.

This is simply to keep the whole thing folded up when not in use.

Next I decided to use some actual nails and a hammer to reinforce the trim instead of buying brad nails.

I clamped the game board down as I went to work.

My hammering skills are not quite up to par.  I had a few blowouts where the MDF bulged.

My orbital sander was able to fix this though.

Once that was done I cut 4 triangular pieces of cardboard.

Then I glued and taped these triangles into each of the outer corners to help reinforce them a little.

I also glued and taped rectangles on each of the 4 inner corners.

The cardboard won't do too much to reinforce the whole thing, but it also serves a purpose and that is to have a better surface to attach some adhesive felt pads.

The adhesive will better stick to the cardboard than the wood or MDF.

So with everything stuck on, glued and taped up, I turned the whole board over and let the weight of the game board help bond everything better.

After a little while I removed the tape.

The game board lies flat and appears to be quite strong.

And it folds up nicely.

And that's all I'll do to it.  From this point on it's up to my Father to do with is as he pleases, although I'm sure he'll do something like this:

Above there's just some dirt roads and grass, but once you add some buildings, bushes, Aliens and explosions...

Once my Father builds upon the board I'll add more photos, but I have something else in mind to work on...


Explosions are cool, and I admire the people that can seriously make a real looking explosion for models, such as seen below.

When my father and brothers and I would play games with models and miniatures, we used cotton with a few specs of paint to make smoke and fire, but I would like to make something more solid and less delicate for use with some Star Wars miniature games...

...and my Star Trek Attack Wing games.

I've already made some small asteroids... well as large asteroids.

Now I have to figure out how to make cool exploding X-Wings, TIE fighters...

...and maybe just plain space explosions...

...or explosions I can put on top of large surfaces or ships.

For my first attempt I am going to use expanding foam.  I have a little left over from a previous project.

I started out by making a few small puffs onto a piece of cardboard.  I did this in my workshop so that if any foam spills over it won't ruin any carpets or nice furniture.

Then I made some plumes...

...and a few random blobs.

I filled up 6 sheets of cardboard before running out of foam and I let the foam expand and harden overnight.

The next morning I began removing them from the cardboard with a small hand saw.

I have a lot to work with here!

Some of these explosions will have some ships - breaking up.  I decided to use some old Micro Machines Star Wars ships - namely and X-Wing, Y-Wing, TIE fighter and Darth Vader's TIE Fighter.  These are virtually the same scale as my X-Wing miniatures, but I'd rather destroy these than the expensive ones.

So using the hand saw and X-acto knife, I broke apart pieces from each ship.

I started with the X-Wing.  I cut away small pieces from the expanded foam to fit the pieces of the ship.

Then I cut some of the plumes, inserted a toothpick for support...

...and attached it to the main explosion.

I repeated the process with the Y-Wing...

...TIE Fighter...

...and Darth Vader's Fighter.

I also attached some of the leftover pieces just to make varying other explosions.

Now it's time to permanently attach all the pieces and plumes.  For this I'll be using Gorilla Glue.

Gorilla Glue needs moisture to help cure, plus it expands as a foam as well.

So after gluing I set it aside to cure.

When the Gorilla glue dried it did indeed foam up some.  Now it looks like smaller explosions near each part.

I'm not much of a painter, so I'll leave them as-is for now.

After discussing this project with one day, he was intrigued and inspired.  About a month later he made these for me.

These explosions are so much better than mine by far!  Essentially he used cotton, glue and paint to make these balls of explosions.

Instead of using the pieces of ships, he made his own debris with paint chips.

Now what's really cool about these explosions is how they look after I put a light underneath them.

Since each explosion is painted up differently, they all have a unique look when light passes through them.

Looking back at my expanding foam pieces, they have a similar shape and I think the foam color actually isn't bad - it just needs some accent reds, oranges and yellows to make it look better.

But I don't think I'll be using mine since my fathers' explosions are much nicer.  I can't wait to have a game so I can use them!  Preferably on that gaming board for my father!
Thanks for reading!

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