0.02 This Old House

My next few posts are going to cover some recent history. Back-story, if you will, getting my millions of readers up to date with current events on my odyssey into mini wargaming.

After I started getting into Wings of War, it didn’t take long for the internet to lead me astray and into the realm of historical miniature wargaming. I started frequenting nefarious locations like TMP, looking for information about rules, time frames, and scales.

I began to research rules, scales, periods of history, and manufacturers of miniatures (the search for which I’ll cover in other posts). I quickly settled on 20mm (1/72) as my scale, because my research showed that plastics were going to be the most affordable way to go, and there are an abundance of options at that scale. Though I continued obsessing over my choices in that realm, I really wanted to get started with something tangible.

The Kamloopian has a great website full of tips, tricks, and tutorials on creating wargaming terrain. I encountered some of his tutorials whilst stumbling about on YouTube, and his very detailed (and long, oh so long) series of videos on creating a little country house inspired me.

All of that is a very long-winded way of saying, “Here’s the first project I undertook: a country house.”

Everything you need to get started on a little house, and then some.

Here’s my farm house in its current state. Yes, it’s unfinished. Yes, it’s sad, seeing as how this is the first project I started. That said, I tend to work a number of projects in parallel, instead of in sequence. Theoretically, they all tie together at the end, and I have everything I need to play a game.

This building is made largely of cardboard I had laying around the house. Not that my house is full of old cardboard, or anything. The walls are of pretty high quality corrugated cardboard from a laser printer toner cartridge that I had recently bought. The roof is completely made of bits of a Cheerios box.

Assembled are all the tools that I used to get the house into its current state. The gridded black mat is a self-healing cutting mat that you can find at any drafting supply store. Most university bookstores will carry them, as well. I highly recommend that you pick one up. They’re not very expensive in this size (you can get larger), and they will save your tables from nasty nicks and cuts. I’ve had this one for about five years, so they’re pretty sturdy.

I use a #2 X-acto blade (and holder) to do my cutting. They are very sharp and you can cut quite precisely, if you get a metal ruler. The blades will wear out. If you throw them in the trash as-is you may cut yourself when taking your garbage to the curb. Even worse, you garbageman may cut himself. Put your discards in some sort of rigid container. I’m using a large (empty) box of Tic Tacs.

A note on my metal ruler. It’s not from down at the local hardware store, for a good reason. Your blade can easily jump up onto a thin metal ruler while you’re cutting, and you’ll soon find yourself pumping blood all over your cardboard. Get a ruler that has a cork backing that’s about 3/32″ thick. This backing lifts the ruler up off of the medium you’re cutting, and gives a little ledge to protect your hand. As with the self-healing mat, you can find these rulers at drafting supply stores and quite probably art supply stores. You could make your fairly inexpensively, as well.

Cheap glue that dries clear will work fine for this project. I used Elmers, because I had some in the bottom of my kitchen junk drawer.

Butt, no

This joint, she is weak.

I’m showing you the above image because I used a butt joint to join up the walls of my house. I cut fairly precisely with my fancy ruler, but this is not an ideal connection. I suspect it won’t stand up to repeated use on the gaming table, and I’ll need to develop another method. Probably some sort of thin cardboard folder to 90 degrees and put against the interior corner would do the trick.

I’ve masked the joints at the outside corner with Squadron Putty. I wouldn’t recommend that product for anything involving very much surface area, because it kills brain cells and smells like it too. Eventually this house will be stucco-covered stone. I’ll be simulating the stucco with either drywall spackle or tile adhesive, so the putty is superfluous, anyway. That’s not to say that Squadron Putty doesn’t have its uses, because it certainly does.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

This method looks really good. I wouldn't recommend it for anything less than a show piece.

Here’s a detail of the roof. These shingles are all cut from the Cheerios box and pasted individually to a backing of said Cheerios box cardboard. I chose to put the non-glossy side of the box face up. I’m not 100% sure if it was the right choice or not. I’m afraid it will warp when I begin painting it. I’ll be sure to share the carnage, when it happens.

Since starting this building project I’ve encountered another method of doing shingles that seems much faster than what I’ve done (effectively shingling the roof in miniature). I’ll definitely be trying the alternate way out on my next building, because laying down each individual shingle is a real pain in the ass. Cutting them out isn’t much fun, either.

For those that like to buy things, you can get pre-textured polystyrene sheets with shingles and bricks already cast into them. I’m not going to put up a link and encourage such cheap and easy methods, though!

I’ll be finishing this build up in the next week or so. I’ll try to do a step-by-step on applying finishes, when the time comes.

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