IntroductionExactly a month ago, I asked on The Miniatures Page if anyone knew how to make cranked fence posts out of MDF or any other cheap material. I had a desire to build a fenced army camp (see also my Quonset huts) for an upcoming game of All Things Zombie. Now, many gamers build chain-link fences from simple uprights such as bamboo skewers and these look fine from a distance. However, I wanted to go a step further than this and model something that would bear a closer inspection.
Corsec Engineering (USA) and Minibits (UK) offered to cut them for me. I went with the UK company, solely on the basis that the postage costs should be lower. A couple of weeks later, after a few exchanges of e-mails with Leon at Minibits to determine exactly what would be done and how much it would cost, I received a bag of parts in the post.
Next, I wondered how to fix the posts. Initially I had thought of pinning them, but a quick experiment showed that the thin MDF posts were far to fragile to drill holes in. Instead, I sank holes at 1.5" intervals along the centreline of the bases to act as sockets. This does, of course, reduce the height of the posts by a couple of mm, but the joint is then quite secure.
Adding the Chainlink
I'd already found some thin brass wire from which I intended to make the barbed wire runs. This brass wire had been woven around a wine bottle originally, but I'd saved it just in case it was ever needed. I used an old technique for modelling barbed wire: wind the wire into a tight coil, flatten the coil and pull it straight (but leaving in the kinks).
- The home-made barbed wire strands are a bit crude. I'm not happy with them.
- The plastic mesh has been sprayed grey. However, that was difficult to do because the small piece of netting was very lightweight and would try to float away when I sprayed it!
- The thin netting was hard to attach evenly to the posts, so as to eliminate any sagging.
- The completed structure is rather flimsy and probably won't stand up well to the rigours of tabletop use. If I were making static scenery for model railways then this wouldn't be a consideration!
The Final VersionIt's hard to reverse course in the middle of a model-making project. By this time, I'd attached plastic mesh to most of the fence pieces. However, I decided that the thin net just wasn't working the way I wanted, so I removed all of it.
Gale Force 9, bought for some occasion just like this. Once the decision was made, finishing off the fencing was very quick.
There is more vegetation on the inside of the compound than on the outside, on the basis that there may be grazing animals on one side but not the other. I also modeled one section of fence as broken down, though curiously the way the wire has been wrecked suggests that something from inside the base has broken through. I wonder what it was that escaped!
They look really good. I've been looking at making fences for quite a while, but this has inspired me to actually do so.ReplyDelete
I've thought of using the plastic mesh bags that satsumas and the like use and would be a bit heavier than your veil-type mesh, but the aluminium stuff is the way to go.
What dimensions are the posts ?
I though initially that the aluminium mesh would be too heavy-looking. Also, the plastic mesh was free! However, the aluminium doesn't really cost that much and it really works much better, I think.Delete
Ah, yes - dimensions. Each post is 42mm high (37mm to the angle, then the cranked top adds another 5mm of height and 10mm of lateral).Delete
Really nice work!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Barks. I'm quite pleased with it, but it'll need a game or 2 to see how flexible my basing is.Delete
Looks really good. I would have immediately gone to aluminum mesh and your experiment confirms my suspicion of plastic mesh. I also would have put a coil of "razor" wire along the top. That is fairly common here in the states. But just nit picking. Very nice terrain feature and on a manageable budget.ReplyDelete
Yes, razor wire coils would also have worked. Less common for industrial premises, more so for military ones, I think. A sensitive army base would probably have several rolls of razor wire on the ground outside the fence as well, but I didn't want to go that far!Delete
They look great mate, they put my fences to shame lolReplyDelete
Well, if your fences work for the games you play then I'd say there was nothing wrong with them!Delete
Those fences look excellent, and fairly cheap too! I may have to copy your method of making these in the future.ReplyDelete
They're not hard to make, as long as you have fence posts of the right shape. I'm mildly surprised that these aren't already available commercially, but it wasn't at all difficult to have them cut specially.Delete
Great job on these and the finished article looks superb. Colour me impressed!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Bryan. I'd had the idea for making these for a long time, but never did anything about it. However, I really need such fencing for the next part of my ATZ campaign - it's been far too long since I did much of that...Delete
Great job buddy, Where did you pick up the mesh from?ReplyDelete
I found the mesh from Halfords, in the car body repair section. Mind you, looking for "fine aluminium mesh" on eBay or other shopping sites suggests that it's quite easy to obtain.Delete
That's a great big WOW. Fabulous job.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Irqan. I am pleased with how they turned out.Delete
I've made similar for necromundia, but mine are now almost 20 years old!ReplyDelete
I used a plastic like mesh from a DIY store for repairing screen windows. I got a lot, about 4yds for $10 at the time. I actually did fix the window screens too and still have a few feet and scraps in my huge bit box!
Very nice work on yours though! I like purchasing nice terrain bits, but nothing compares to seeing your own well done efforts on the table!
Yes, I've heard about screen window mesh before, though I don't think such material is readily available in the U.K.Delete
It does take extra time to make your own terrain (compared with purchasing it), but you are guaranteed to get it just as you want it!
Damn fine work sir - colour me impressed!ReplyDelete
Thanks, this seems to be the general reaction. But as I've said before on other articles, it's not actually that hard to do :-) .Delete
And what difference should it make to us if it's hard or not? the fact is that you've made it and we're impressed! Accept the praise without question!!!!Delete
It was worth it, nicely done, and well done on changing your mind part way through to get a better finish.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Dave. It's always a bit of a wrench to undo work that I've already done, but in this case I think the result was much better for it.Delete
those are really cool, I am going to have to steal thesesReplyDelete
Thanks, c80. It's a bit more work than the common "bamboo skewer" posts (and more fragile, too!), but I'm glad I made my fences this way.Delete
These are excellent! Would you mind if I stole these too?ReplyDelete
Do you think Minibits would do a repeat order of your fence posts?
Go ahead, please!Delete
I'm sure that Minibits would be open to a request for a repeat order. Be aware that the MDF posts are quite fragile; Leon advised me that cutting them in plywood would cost a lot more. Since then, I've wondered if soaking each post in white glue would strengthen it, or just warp it. Might be worth an experiment with a spare piece.
Enquiry sent! These look too damn fine to not give them a try myself. Sorry for stealing though. I really appreciate the work you put into them.Delete
You're welcome, Stefan - glad you like the fencing!Delete
I've spent ages trying to work out the best way to make fences - then I stumble upon your blog, and bingo - there's the answer. The laser-cut mdf is the missing part in my puzzle! Thank you so much for sharing - the fencing looks fantastic - exactly what I need!ReplyDelete
Great! I'm delighted that you found my article to be useful!Delete