There aren't very many options out there for portable wargaming tables. Those that are out there all have their own flaws and my design is an alternative method for those of us who are limited in everything except willpower. No money? No time? No space? No problem.
This tutorial is not meant to be a strict step-by-step. It is intended to get your creative juices flowing and thinking about how you can make your own with what you have available following the same rough design.
In theory, this tutorial should have something of value for just about anyone, regardless of their resources or handyman skills.
Now, down to business...
Pros & Cons
- Very cheap-If you already have the tools and a base table available(most people will I think), you could potentially make this board for free.
- Simple to move-The cloth hinge design allows you to pack, move, and unpack this board all in one go. Instead of several trips to your car with segments and pieces.
- Quick & easy to build- there's no need for special skills, power tools or exact measurements to build this. Similarly, it is very easy to fix if something falls apart down the road.
- Flexible storage- It can be folded or rolled depending on what space you have available. If you need it to go under your bed, just fold it in half and lay it down. If it needs to go in a corner then roll it up and stand it upright
- Builds character- If prying boards from a scrap pallet (that you had to ask a store manager for) to make your own wargaming table doesn't build character, I don't know what will.
- Heavy- The board weighs about 40 lbs (18.5 kg) on its own. Keep your back straight and lift with your legs!
- Upkeep- I haven't had this issue yet, but I am assuming that, over time, hinges will come unglued and they'll need to be reglued or replaced
- Uneven surfaces- The odd board or warping can cause some uneven areas on your board. The gaming surface and good wood selection will make this hardly noticeable, but it won't fix it completely. What do you want from me? The wood is FREE!
- Builds character- Technically this is a good thing, but it never seems to feel like one when you are doing it...
- Wooden boards- Free if you can get it from scrap piles, pallets, fencing, shipping containers etc. If you buy wood from a hardware store then it will be less than $50 in most cases (and if you have your girlfriend/wife do the asking they might cut it for free :) )
- Cloth- Free if you use spare cloth lying around. Just about anything that isn't stretchy will work. If you buy some then I'd expect it to be less than $5 for what you need (maybe half a yard?)
- Base table- Wherever you play you'll need a 6' long table. You can also buy a folding 6' table from walmart for about $40 if there aren't any acceptable tables where you play.
- Gaming Surface- this could be anything from Frontline gaming mats to a $5 sheet of felt, and is not strictly necessary. The point here is that the board itself is not pretty and you'll probably want something softer and better looking to play on
Choosing WoodWhat you want is 4' lengths of somewhat thin boards. 1" thickness is very easy to come by (3/4" in actuality), but a 1/2" thickness would be better if you can get it. Definitely no bigger than 1" nominal thickness, anything else is too heavy. Less than 1/2" is not very rigid but is doable. flat wood is best, so shipping crates and pallets work well since they've been nailed down and formed flat. If you can't find full 4' lengths you can combine pieces to reach 4' without any issues (more on that later).You'll want to avoid adding lengths less than 12" since often the joints of those pieces will not be supported by the base table and could be an issue.
In my mind, the ideal wood for this project is THIS. It will roll nicer and weigh much less, but buying all you need would be well over $100. The most common wood I've found is 40" lengths of 1x4's from pallets.
- Carpenters Glue
- hammer/prybar (not necessary if buying wood)
- Measuring Tape & Pencil (not necessary if buying pre-cut wood)
- hand saw (not necessary if buying pre-cut wood)
The TableI am lucky enough to work as an engineer for a manufacturing company, and we go through tons of pallets, scrap wood, shipping crates, etc. I found some 1x4 pieces that were over 10' long. I spent 30 minutes during a couple lunch breaks to pry the boards off of the crates and cut them. I also cut one 48" length out of a 1x6 board so I could hit 72" exactly (nineteen 1x4's and one 1x6).
|One of the crates that I dismembered for the Greater Good|
|Some of the 1x4's cut to length|
For the other half of my board I used long strips along the boards instead of squares, just to see the difference.
|Note how I apply glue directly to the seams for as tight a hinge as possible|
|Letting the glue set overnight|
When the hinges seem to be holding well and tight, then your table is done! Roll it up, put it on the base table, unroll it, cover it with your gaming surface and you are good to game!
|Ready for loading|
|Unrolling on the base table|
|Unrolled, adding gaming surface|
|All set. R'varna is for reference|
- Unrolled- 0.75"x48"x72"
- Rolled up- 48"x10"
- Weight- ~40 lbs (~19kg)
- Cost- $0.00+. For my gaming surface, I spent $8 USD on two sheets of felt from Joann's. Everything else I either scrounged or already had on hand.
- Time- Working during lunch breaks and after the kids went to bed, it took me about 4 hours of work spread over 3 days, including 2 nights/workdays for letting glue set. If I were to do it again I bet I could do the whole thing in less than 2 hours with one night of letting the glue dry.
DIY Pallet Example:Now, something for those of you who can only find free wood in the form of pallets. I did not execute this method myself, but I planned for it in case pallets were all I could find. Hopefully some people find it useful.
Pallets are an excellent source of free wood. Just about everyone uses them and just about everyone will be glad to give them to you for free. Most pallets have several 1x4 or 1x6 boards on them but they are only 40" long on a standard sized pallet (might be different outside US, not sure). So you have to redistribute the lengths.
You start by cutting each 40" board into a 16" length and a 24" length. You can combine two 24" boards into one 48" board, and three 16" boards into another. Six 40" boards transforms into five 48" boards.
|6 1x4's will get you a 17.5" section without any wasted wood|
You will want to use extra strips of cloth and glue to make sure everything is properly supported. I'd say you'll need 5 strips minimum.
|Strips 2,3, & 4 will need lots of extra glue|