Walls and fences, two things you can’t have too many of in your terrain collection. I’ve been meaning to make some high chain link style fences for a while, and they’re actually pretty straightforward to make.
Doing a bit of searching on the internet a while back I saw these and thought they looked quite smart. A few places sell fence kits (such as Sally 4th) but to be honest I think you’d be a mug to spend £50 on buying them when you still have to assemble and paint them anyway. There’s nothing in those kits you can’t do yourself for far less money and pretty much the same amount of work.
I went for a slightly more low-tech version, instead of custom laser-cut MDF supports mine are just good old match sticks. The bases are 3mm MDF, and the fence itself is aluminium mesh from Halfords, this’ll set you back about £2.50 a sheet. It’s topped with barbed wire, which I buy in a big roll and sell on this site, so go hit the link to my shop if you want some.
To make life easier for myself I made my fence sections the same width that the mesh comes in, which seems to be an oldskool imperial dimension as they’re bang on 10″. So my long straights are 10″ and I cut the mesh into 4cm wide strips to make a fence that’s a bit taller than a 28mm figure on a base. Including the corner pieces this has given me enough to build a four-sided compound about 25″ on each side, and I almost got it all done from two sheets of mesh. I think I cut one strip from the third packet.
Short version of the How-To is:
- Cut your bases to size. They can’t be any wider than the width of your mesh sheets or you’ll have weird joins.
- Drill holes and insert your posts (match sticks in my case
- Texture your bases. Do it now and it’ll be easier than if you’ve already added the mesh
- Add any extra details (bracing on your posts, barbed wire at the top, etc)
- Build and assemble your gates to match the fences
- The fun bit: cut your mesh and glue it on. A guillotine makes this super easy, but you can just cut it with scissors, too.
- Spray undercoat everything grey
- Highlight the wire and posts with a metal and/or any rusty bits you want to add. Signs on the fence too if you want?
- Undercoat and then highlight your bases, then flock ’em!
I had to experiment a bit for the best thing to attach the aluminium mesh to the supports, but ended up using good old PVA, and held it all together with clothes pegs while drying. It seems fairly sturdy now, the PVA has grabbed hold of the mesh pretty well. I did try superglue and hot glue, but they weren’t great. Two-part epoxy might have worked, but I didn’t try it.
The fiddliest part was the gate. I wanted it to be able to open and close, which meant building hinges. My first attempt was, well a bit wonky. I tried making two little hinges for each gate, but in the end scrapped it and went for one big one each side. Besides being sturdier and less fiddly to make it’s easier to keep everything square and if it’s square the gates move a lot better. I just got some thin lengths of styrene tubing, cut them to length and then inserted a bit of straightened paperclip into it. I bent over the ends and stuck that to my gates, and stuck the plastic tubing to the gate frame. The result is a couple of gates that open and close, and hopefully should stand up to some handling on the table.
The ali mesh is pretty shiny straight out of the packet, and the match sticks obviously need painting, so I just nuked everything with grey primer and then lightly drybrushed a metallic colour. Then I PVA’d the bases and dipped in sharp sand. This got a layer of the trusty old “bitter chocolate” masonry paint, and then a two-layer drybrush (a tester of Wickes “coffee bean” and then a quick touch with a “buff titanium” artists paint). This may seem like a bit of a waste of effort when most of it is going to be covered with grass, but it’s not really much more work to drybrush the whole surface, and it means that I can leave bare patches wherever I like, and if any grass does wear off over the years it’s not going to look too bad.
A bit of static grass from my trusty electric deathtrap and bob’s your uncle. All ready for keeping spies and secret agents out of your base. Chuck in a couple of suitable buildings (like my light industrial, Nissen hut, and guard tower) and you’ve got a little compound to fight over, or set them up partitioning off a whole corner of the table to represent a large prison or the boundary of an airport. Just the ticket for Black Ops or other modern skirmish games.