I had a go at making my own snake/split rail fencing for my American games.
I wanted the fences to fit onto the standard 6 inch (15cm) mdc bases I use and also wanted them to be relatively easy to build (and replicate) without too much facing around. With that in mind I decided to opt to use pre-cut matches from Hobbycraft. You can get 50g for a little over £1.00 which is plenty for probably 6 foot or more (best guess). At 1/50 the 4cm matches are probably slightly undersize for length being approximately 7 foot as opposed to the traditional 9 to 11 foot lengths.
I get my mdf bases pre-cut from Blotz. I requested a 6 inch long base which is 1 inch wide with fully rounded ends to allow full flexibility for positioning at odd angles or ends without having to worry about corners or the such.
I initially used a watered down ova mix to glue the matches directly to the mdf base. Having now completed the first batch I would probably use full strength pva for future fences because I found that sometimes there wasn’t sufficient bond and one of the fences fell apart on me when being handled (well at least it’s a lesson learnt for next time).
I wanted the fences to end roughly in the centre at each end so that they could be married up to the next fence base easily. Unfortunately I discovered that due to the length of my base and the match size being used I wouldn’t achieve a universal fence base which could be easily placed either way around to marry up without issues to the next one. I ended up doing a compromise and made two base types which mirror each other and so long as I alternate the basing they will hopefully marry up without issue. I’m not all that sure if I’m simply putting concerns where they don’t really exist but I’ll only really be able to see it when I use them in earnest on the table top.
Each base starts which three matches laid at roughly 30 degrees to the base length, with the two end matches touching the base edge in the middle. I then snipped two small pieces to put on top of the end pieces to help support the third level. this is because the fences are normally continuous so support each other. Due to my requirement to have individual pieces I would need to compromise somewhere on the aesthetics. I then laid two complete matches onto between the three base matches to complete the second level. The third level was simply a repeat of the base layer using the end bits for support.
I repeated this process until I had 7 matches height in total (4 on the ends and three on the middle – the pictures probably show this better).
I gave the whole structure a light wash with watered down PVA then left to dry. Once dry I applied a PVA layer to the base and dipped in a fine gravel. Once all of this was dry I painted the whole item with a watered down Red Earth acrylic ink from Daller Rowney and left it to dry. I then applied a dry brush of sand (light stone/beige/coffee colour) to the entire fence and base.
To finish it off I stuck greek static flock to the base.
As to lessons learnt.
Well the fencing took slightly longer than I anticipated. The 8 lengths probably took a couple of hours end to end allowing for drying time within that. I could halve the manufacture time by doing parts in batches so that I was doing things whilst I was waiting for things to dry but this would mean being somewhat better prepared next time.
I also found that the initial watered down PVA wasn’t a good solution for constructing the fences so will use a thicker solution next time.
The watered down acrylic ink worked very well as it soaked into the base and fence very quickly so didn’t mean that I was trying to patch up areas I had missed later on.
As a final product I was pleased with my first efforts and they were soon used in a Dead Mans Hand game and held their own against the commercial stuff on the table.
Next time I’ll have a go at stone walls…