0.09 Modular Terrain Boards-Part 2

The next step on the path to modular terrain board domination is to give the board form and texture. Most old country roads in Normandy (or Arkansas, for that matter) are somewhat sunken, as they’ve been worn down or graded thousands of times over the past. I thought 4-6 feet, at scale would be a good depth to give to the road. It’s an arbitrary decision, but I wield supreme executive power over my terrain boards, thank you very much.

After carefully marking centerline, widths, and depths, I began to excavate through the foam insulation (easy, if tedious) and the 1×2 boards (difficult, and tedious). I made the mistake of trying to cut into the foam, which just made an uneven mess, as the material is almost uncontrollable for this application. It does respond to sanding very well, and my other board went smoothly (har har har) once I switched techniques.

A note about carving through the 1x2s: I marked the depth and width I wanted to achieve directly onto the 1×2. Then I took my coping saw (and it works well for this) and semi-carefully cut to those marks in multiple places. Now, there’s no way to complete the cut, if you’re not going to completely sever your 1×2 (and I’d suggest that you don’t, as you’ll completely lose any structural benefit, which is 70% of the reason for putting them on there in the first place). After making the multiple coping saw cuts, I took a 1/2″ chisel and went to work. The earlier cuts by the coping saw make the chiseling controllable. I also used the chisel to rough in a 45 degree bevel at the edges of the cut, in order to simulate a bank. Yes, a picture would have saved us all a thousand befuddled words.

I’d highly recommend sanding everything and getting it somewhat smooth, otherwise you’re going to end up with unwanted textures on your board. Afterwards, a damp cloth is a good way to clean up.

I primed this board with some grey Kilz primer, but I don’t think that step is necessary, at least when using my procedure. I forgot (this illustrates something about the brain power of the writer) to prime one of my three boards, and there’s no discernible difference in the final finishes.

Cut, sanded, and primed.

I’ve used brown ACRYLIC caulking to do my roadbed. That acrylic part is very important, as silicon caulking cannot be painted. Caulking is excellent for simulating a rutted dirt/mud road. I picked up the tip from the always entertaining Lloydian Aspects. I used a cheap plastic sculpting tool to push the stuff around, but an old credit card and a toothpick or piece of sprue would get the job done. Give the caulk at least 24 hours to dry, or you’ll have a sticky mess. Add your roadway texturing sand/gravel into the caulk itself, before it sets up.

It's not handsome. Yet.

The next step is to lay down a base coat of paint mixed with sand and gravel. I’m going to be gaming in Normandy, so something rich and brown seemed right. I went with the always-loamy burnt umber. You’ll end up with a thick (but not too thick!) slurry. You’ll want to use a large cheap paintbrush to spread it about the board. Don’t be shy, put it on there thick and get 100% coverage.

Get dirty

Shake your container to mix your gravel and sand up before adding the paint.

Playground sand and some Woodland Scenics ballast

You’ll end up with this lovely cake-like finish. Resist the temptation, and don’t eat it. Let it dry thoroughly. The foam portions will take longer, which makes me thing the 1x2s are soaking up moisture from the burnt umber paint. Even though they’ve already been primed. No adverse effect so far, though.

Base color and texture applied.

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