Monday, February 16, 2015

Tutorial: Flexible Plowed Fields

I have a love-hate relationship with the Battlefront Plowed Fields - I love how awesome they are and they're useful in many more games outside of Flames of War, but I hate the cost. $20-something should get you more than two small rectangular fields. So I decided to try making my own and the results are awesome. 

The felt backing for these fields is essential. Without it, the latex caulk will curl and roll. While the latex still lifts the corners while in storage, they can easily be bent back before play and will stay down due to the field's weight.

  • 1 piece of single-layer corrugated cardboard
  • Paintable acrylic latex caulk
  • Caulking gun
  • Aluminum foil 
  • Felt fabric
  • Plastic or metal paint scrapper
  • Packing tape
  • Earth-tone acrylic or latex paints
  • Scissors and/or utility knife

1. Carefully wet one side of the cardboard and let the water soak in a couple minutes. Holding one corner, slowly and carefully peel away the wet side to expose the corrugated insides. Clean any leftover paper remnants. 

2. Before the cardboard dries, tape down all sides to a flat level surface you will not need to use for several days. Let the cardboard dry.

3. Pull off enough aluminum foil 1.5-2x the length of the cardboard and lay on top. Starting on one end, push the foil into each corrugation until you reach the end. When complete tape down all edges.

You could use wax paper or plastic wrap but foil will hold it's shape between, especially when you push and pull it around when applying the caulk.

4. Apply the latex caulk over the foil (Be sure to use a brand listed as "paintable"). Using your paint scraper, push the caulk around to cover most, if not all, of the foil. Be sure to "push" the caulk into the corrugations. Smooth out as much as possible and let stand for a couple of minutes (not more than 5-10 minutes).

5. Cut enough felt fabric to fully cover the caulking and apply to the caulk, smoothing out any rough spots and using enough pressure to push the felt into the caulking to make it bond.

6. Let dry for at least 12 hours. Because it is exposed to very little air, the caulk will take much longer to cure than what is listed on the package, especially towards the middle. You can slightly speed up the process by turning a hair dryer on low and blowing over the felt (but it will still be many hours before the caulk starts to cure enough).

7. Test the cure by attempting to SLOWLY pull up one corner. You want the felt and caulk to remain sticking together and the caulk to pull away, at least slightly, from the foil. If the felt is pulling away from the caulk, push it back down, smooth all the felt out again and let cure for several more hours.

This is very much an intuitive step. My advice is to be patient - best to let it sit for several days and wait, then pull it up too early and destroy the field.

8. When you're happy with the cure, pull up the field. Portions of foil may still stick and will have to be removed little by little. Using a knife or scissors, cut out whatever size fields you'd like.

9. If the furrows are still damp, you can make tracks in them by using a miniature of your choice.

10. Paint the fields. I used some leftover latex house paint samples we had, making them earth-tone by mixing in some dry pigments and stirring well.

1 comment:

Private Snafu said...

I like them. You could also use the more rigid felt that is found at some of the craft stores. That may eliminate more of the curling. Or I suppose you could use starch and a hot iron on the felt.