Saturday, 10 April 2010

Wargames tables

I started wargaming when I was 10, possibly 11, years old. I'm 45 now, and I've had several wargames tables over the years.

I started out, as most boys do, throwing a green cloth over the dining room table. This had the usual draw back of having to clear away everything by meal times.

My first real table was in my small bedroom. This was 6 foot 6 inches long and 4 foot wide. Space was minimal, but my father came up with a sound solution. My bed was made of pine. My father drilled three holes in each leg. When my table was required I bolted a 3 foot long 2 by 2 to each bed leg, bolted lengths of 2 by 1 battens around the top of the 2 by 2s to form a frame, then dropped on the 1/2 inch chipboard table-top. The top was fixed with four drop in bolts which went down the centre of each 2 by 2 'leg'. All in all, this was an extremely stable construction that, at a pinch, I could leave in position - I slept under it.

My first purpose built free standing table was constructed after a house move. This was 6 foot by four foot. I built it with my dad when I was 14 and still exists, in part (the top), to this day. Again, space was at a premium, but not to such a large degree, and it was collapsible. The legs were two A frame trestles made out of 2 by 2s and 4 by 1s. The ridge of each trestle (4 by 1) had a slot in the middle - this slot was the key. The table-top was made out of two 6 foot by two foot 1/4 inch ply wood sheets. Each of these had battens (2 inch by 1/2 inch) around the edge. The two 'tops' were hinged down the 6 foot length with a 6 foot long 'piano' hinge so that it could be folded when not in use. When on the trestles the hinged battens fell into the slot in the 'A' frame trestles. This was a masterpiece of simple engineering that lasted me (though latterly with an 8 by 6 foot top) until about ten years ago. The 6 by 4 foot top is now Tim T's wargames table - though he does not get it out much.

When I moved to my present address my wargames room doubled in size overnight. This is a stay put house, so I indulged myself in table design. I wanted a big table - at least 10 foot by 6 - with lots of smart storage. I decided on kitchen base units - the cheapest I could find (note the doors which don't match!). I banked these up in two eight foot rows with a gap down the middle, and bolted them all together. I then used two 8 foot x 3 foot x 1/2 inch chip board as a top. To allow for bigger games I used a piano hinge to add a 32" drop leaf. The drop leaf is battened with 2 by 1s. The free end is supported by 2 by 2 legs that, when in position, are bolted to the battens with long bolts and wing nuts. The picture below give some idea of the construction - especially the gap.

I've had other tables of course, but these were temporary or built for a particular battle. One was made out of battened hard board - which was a disaster as I battened it before painting it and it warped dreadfully - this led to the 6 by 4 foot described above.
Another, and one for which I have pleasant memories, was made of aluminium. It measured, when all the sheets were put together, 22 foot by 16 foot - and you could walk on it! It came with fields, hedges, woods, roads, hills and all. I found it on a dump when my father was stationed at RAF Locking. The flight simulators had just been computerised and they were dumping the 'terrain' over which small cameras used to 'zoom', and which had been originally wall mounted in a hanger - they were HUGE! I wanted all of it but my mum, on finding it had overtaken the garden drew the line at 22 x 16. The only thing I had to do was remove the tiny houses and replace them with a more suitable scale. I was fourteen and my regular gaming chum and I used it all summer for 1:300 WWII games. I still have a small section without a frame - it is used as flooring in my mums attic.
So, there you have it. A resume of my wargame tables - well some of them.


WABit said...

I used to play on the motorway using lumps of coal as units James :O)


paulalba said...

all sounds Brilliant!