Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tutorial: Making Barbed Wire and Minefield Obstacles

Not content with spending upwards of $20-30 for some FOW Obstacles, I decided to make my own for much cheaper. How much cheaper? Mostly the cost of the 1/16" or 1/8" MDF board. A 2' x 3' board will generally run about $4-5 and you can make enough obstacles from that to field an entire Fortified Company. In this tutorial I made two minefields and five barbed wire obstacles in a day's time.

What you'll need:
- 3/16" or 1/8" MDF
- Good quality bamboo skewers
- 24ga. & 32ga. jewelry wire
- Plumber's epoxy putty or Spackle
- Thin plasticard
- Sand, flocking, & static grass

- Box-cutter or Saber saw
- Sandpaper
- Drill
- Hole punch
- Dremel w/ sanding & grinding stone bits
- Glue

1. Cut all the pieces to the desired length (2" x 8" in the case of FOW obstacles). If using a saber saw, adjust the blade to a 45 angle to get a nice beveled edge.

2. If you used a box-cutter to cut the pieces, you'll have to bevel the edge to get a slight angle. I use a Dremel with a sanding bit for this, though you can do it with sandpaper. Your pieces should look like those pictured below:

3. Be sure to give each piece a thorough sanding all over so the sand with stick easier later in the process.

 Barbed Wire Obstacles

I used the picture above to illustrate how barbed wire obstacles could be deployed "in-depth", which is the effect I'm trying to achieve in this tutorial. Feel free to add or leave out the typical "coiled" barbed wire, as you see fit.

1. To make alternating rows of posts, take one of the pieces for use as a sacrificial template. On a normal 2" x 8" obstacle, there would be enough room for seven rows of posts, each spaced 1.25" apart.  First, draw a line from each of the corners intersecting in the middle to find the center of the obstacle.

 2. Mark out each post hole measuring outward from the centerpoint and then, using a drill bit the same diameter as your bamboo skewers (you can easily eyeball the diameter by holding the bits against the skewer. If they're the same size, congrats! You found the correct diameter.) drill a hole through the MDF. Your template should look like the one below:

3. Stack each of the other MDF pieces under the template. You may wish to use a clamp or rubber bands to hold the stack together correctly.

4. Place the stack on an old piece of wood you don't mind getting holes in. Using the template as a guide, drill down through each piece until you're finished. Be sure to use a firm, steady pressure when drilling - don't rush!

5. Viola! All your obstacles now have the post holes drilled. If the MDF "puckers" in the back from your drill, use your dremel or some sandpaper to smooth it all out.

6. Cut each bamboo skewer to the desired height of your posts (mine are 11-12mm roughly, which is about waist height on a based 15mm mini when inserted into the MDF) by rolling the skewer under an X-acto blade. (You'll need 11 posts per obstacle)

7. Flip the MDF over and place a dab of white glue over each hole. Insert your posts through each hole.  Make sure none of the posts stick out from the bottom, so that the obstacle sits levelly. When finished, each obstacle should look like those below:


1. To put craters in the obstacle, using a Dremel with a grinding stone bit, sand down into the MDF board using a shallow circular motion. Make sure you do not punch through the bottom of the MDF! It should create a shallow crater like the one below:

2. Being sure your obstacle is free of dust, roll out a string of epoxy putty and form it into a ring. Place each ring around the edge of each crater. Press down firmly into the crater and mold the outer edges into a slope.

3. Using the hole punch, punch out circles from the plasticard and glue these "mines" unto the MDF pieces. You may use a little or a lot....

4. If you want to add barbed wire fencing around your minefield, follow the steps under Barbed Wire, only making the post holes at each corner.

Finishing Touches

1. Using a small amount of white glue (so the MDF doesn't warp) or, better yet, spray adhesive, glue some sand and stones unto each obstacle.

2. To create realistic barbed wire, see my tutorial here. For these obstacles, I simply used 32 ga. copper wire wrapped around 24 ga. copper wire with a drill. Starting from one corner post, wrap the wire around the post a few turns and then proceed to "zig-zag" the wire between the first row and the middle row.

3. When you reach the end of the obstacle, run the wire along the edge to the opposite corner post and then begin "zig-zagging" the wire between this last row and the middle row.

4. Lastly, go once around the entire outer perimeter of posts until you come to the post where you started. Wrap the wire around this post a turn or two and snip. Your obstacles should look like those pictured below:

5. Paint and flock your obstacles and you're done!


Engel said...

Nice tutorial, thanks for sharing.

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