Our Salute Board: Part 3 - Shaping

This is my third blog entry on the preparation of boards for our ‘C-Day’ game at Salute 2014. In my last entry I covered the basics of making and preparing the boards. With our base boards ready, we next needed to add features, in order to bring them more to life.

According to Caesar’s commentaries, Ancient Briton cavalry and chariots opposed his landing. Given this information, any terrain I built would have to be ‘chariot friendly’. Now that I had all my materials, the real work could begin!

I do have a 3½ foot hot wire cutter and initially used it to shape the Craftfoam. After a short time however, my cutter developed a fault and began to work intermittently. When it broke down, I resorted to a power planer, which, while messy, was very effective on the Craftfoam (less so on Polystyrene – so be warned). When this developed a fault, I resorted to sharp knives and sandpaper! To be honest, I wasn’t having a lot of luck with my tools.

The Hill

The main hill was made using bits of old polystyrene as filler in layers with the outer surfaces being made of Craftfoam. The design required a reasonable slope down to the sea off the white cliffs, so it had to be a gradual incline (no more than 1 in 3). Otherwise, Simon Miller’s chariots would be rolling down the hill of their own accord! At first, I glued each section of polystyrene with PVA layer by layer. This will take a good long time to dry – probably a week at least. In fact, one of our board sections on the biggest hill started to come apart at Salute, but luckily I had some Superglue handy.

The polystyrene was left over from previous projects (I always knew it’d come in handy one day) and was ideal ‘hill filler,’ given the relative expense of the Craftfoam. Once built and (mostly) dry, the hill was shaped. A little poly filler was added afterwards to smooth out any irregularities in the boards and to hide the joins.

The River

Our river section board was simply made by shaping it prior to gluing to the plywood. The dimensions were worked and marked out before gluing. The river section was cut in half using the hot wire cutter and then glued into place. The banks were shaped with a smaller, handheld hot cutter. On previous boards, I’d cut out the shape of the river afterwards with a soldering iron and blades, but was always unhappy with the result.

I kept the ‘cut out’ shape of the river so I could put it back in place when gluing the foam to the plywood. Without that ‘cut out’ section, the river might not have dried flat to the board when I weighed it down as the PVA dried.

For the other boards, I added the odd light hillock, shaped from foam off-cuts. A low hill was also created as a base for the Celtic village.

In my next blog, I’ll discuss how I finished the board’s surface and added flocking.

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