Monday, August 24, 2009

Building a gaming table – Part Two

G’day guys and gals. Here it is as promised, part two of my three part series of building your own games table. Part one consisted of putting together the frame and table top. In this section I will go over the steps I took to texture the entire table.

2” Brush
Sand paper
‘Bag less’ Vacuum cleaner OR Dustpan and Brush

Fine, medium & coarse ballast
Fine sand
PVA glue
Spray sealer/vanish
Large Plastic screw top container
Large ice cream container or mixing bowl
Small bucket of water

First off you will need to prepare a few items. Personally I made a mix of ballast for the overall texture from four (4) grades of materials. I used very fine beach sand (that was washed and “cooked”) and three grades (fine, medium and coarse) of ballast from Woodland Scenics.

I mixed all the ballast and sand in the ratios 4:4:4:1 of fine ballast, medium ballast, coarse ballast and fine sand in a large ice cream container. I found this mix to be fantastic in giving the entire table a more realistic variable texture.

To speed up the process of applying the ballast to the table I would suggest making a shaker (This was my wife’s idea). It will drastically speed up the whole process of texturing 32’ of table in this case, but will also greatly reduce how much ballast you will burn through.

To make the shaker I took an old (and clean) fridge fruit container (SPC Breaky Fruits) and then drilled a large number of holes into the lid. The more the merrier.
I found to get the consistency right for the shaker I had to add about twice as many holes as I did on my first attempt. Use the sand paper to clean up the holes drilled into the lid before adding your ballast to the container.

Now with the ballast and shaker ready we have all we need to get started!

1) Pour some PVA glue onto your table and spread the glue around in an area of approximately 1’x 1’. We dipped out brush into the bucket of water each time to help spread the PVA glue around. Don’t be afraid to add more PVA if required.

2) Using the shaker, liberally cover the PVA with ballast. With two people you can work as a team to minimise the amount of time the PVA has to dry before applying more PVA to another area. (Thanks Matt for helping!). Don’t get stressed about the amount of ballast you end up using as you will reclaim a significant amount back once the glue dries.

3) Work around the entire table then leave it all to dry. Personally I let my table sit for about 8 or so hours.

4) Once the glue is well and truly dry either use a dustpan and brush or, if you have one, use a ‘bag less’ vacuum cleaner to recover any excess ballast. I used a wide and soft head on the vacuum cleaner and gently worked my way around the table to reclaim all that expensive ballast mix. Personally I reclaimed about half of all my ballast.

5) You will probably have a number of thin patches or areas you missed completely on your first pass with the ballast. Just water down some PVA glue slightly and hit these areas again with the shaker. Again, leave it to dry and reclaim the excess ballast again. This will allow you to see if there are any other patches.

6) Hopefully by this stage you have got a great coverage of ballast, if not just repeat step 5 until your happy with the converge.

7) I used a spray sealer/vanish to help hold the ballast down and stop it lifting when I go to paint the table with a brush later. Leave this to dry.

Step seven isn’t critical but I tend to do this on a miniature scale with watered down PVA glue as I hate it when the ballast lifts leaving an ugly unpainted section on the base.

I also find by doing this I reduce the amount of paint wastage due to the ballast absorbing the moisture from the paint. If you do use spray, make sure you spray in a ventilated area and try to use a mask.

Here is a final close up of the texture.

We are now ready to paint!

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