Category Archives: DIY Projects & El Cheapo Gaming

I May Never Use Mod Podge Again

Yes, I’ll probably still use some Mod Podge for some of my terrain but I think I may have found some thing that makes the pieces more resilient.

This all came about because of failed experiment on my Dungeon Stackers. I tried some thing that didn’t work but I did notice that they felt tougher than the other pieces that I had made. And here’s my secret sauce so to speak. Minwax Polyshades Classic Black. If you dig thru the Internet some folks are using Minwax Polyshades Antique Walnut as cheaper alternative to Army Painter Strong Tone. And in case you are wondering, the Polyshades line of products is stain combined with polyurethane.

Let’s get this party started with some warnings. This stuff is oil based so that means you need mineral spirits to clean up. Also, it means fumes. So use in a well ventilated area.

For prep of the foam, I used my standard techniques. Cut out the shape, run some fine grit sand paper over it and the texture as usual. Now, we coat it. First and foremost, use THIN coats. This is very important. After a couple of hours of dry time, you’ll notice some patches that the stain has totally penetrated the foam and you can the color of the foam. Once again, THIN coats! to cover. You can easily tell as it dries that your coat was too heavy. You can see it on the shiny patch on the left side. The polyurethane will “pool” on the surface. Since I used gloss this created a smooth, shiny area that also obscured some of the detail.

The whole idea behind the Mod Podge was to be a first layer protection for the foam. And to protect it from the propellants if you’re using spray-on polyurethane which will eat the foam. This is brush-on so no propellants but as I said there are fumes. The Polyshades give a stronger and more durable base coat than the Mod Podge. I’ve also found that the stain penetrates and covers any nooks and crannies of the piece better. Remember THIN coats. While XPS isn’t porous, it’s still foam and has pores.

Next up, you want the piece to dry. Better yet. You want it to cure. So what’s the difference? Dry means you handle it and add another coat. Cure means that all of the chemical reactions are done and the polyurethane has reached final, maximum durability. Based on my Internet research this will take about a month under average conditions. The two key elements for the duration of curing time are temperature and humidity. DO NOT use your oven, heat gun or something like that. It’s too hot. I wouldn’t leave it my car in the sun. It might get too hot and will stink up your car. For this bit of UDT, I just left in the un-air conditioned garage. Yeah, I’m in Texas so it’s topped triple digit temperature and where I am, it’s not that humid. I let this piece hang out in the garage for a week.

Let the painting begin! Hey wait! Can you use acrylic craft paints on polyurethane? Yes you can! This time, I did a cobble stone pattern and instead of base coat, I painted each stone then dry brushed over that, then a black wash, and another very light pass of dry brushing. Then a couple coats of Minwax Polycrylic for the final layer of protection. And here’s the finished product.

And you’ll notice that I’m also doing another UDT piece. This one is slightly smaller at 12 inches in diameter without zones. This is my piece for big rooms. And I know. I can’t cut a circle to save my life.

Am I going to do this for everything that I make out of foam? Probably not. It just depends. If it’s something that is going to see a lot of use and wear and tear then sure the extra time for some extra durability is worth it in my opinion. And of course, YMMV.

Oh. And it’s double sided too.

DIY Weapons Rack

There’s plenty of really cool weapons racks for dungeons out there but I just wanted to be different. I’ve collected a whole little box of various swords, axes, shields and what nots over the years. So I wanted to build something that actually acted like a rack that I could swap out whatever weapons I wanted to fit the dungeon or my mood. The key material is one of those gold mine items. The generic mini-Jenga blocks that you can pick up at Dollar Tree. Yeah, I think I’ve bought two or three of them.

The build was pretty easy. Just grab your wood glue and a clamp and go. First, just glue and clamp two of those Jenga blocks and then cut a craft stick to length and glue and clamp for the front like so.

The end pieces are the rounded ends of a craft stick. I did buy the craft sticks at Dollar Tree, too. And here’s the neat part and coincidence. The craft sticks are the same width as the blocks. So there was no trimming to have them fit. Just cut to the same length.

Add a couple of coats of Minwax Polyshades and boom. Good to go. Yes, I know I still need to paint the weapons. Hey, one project at time.

White Box Wednesday: I just can’t leave things alone.

I now I can’t just leave any set of rules alone. I tinker and mess around them. So I figured may be just play around with the White Box rules a bit. Ok, a lot.

The whole idea is to streamline it. Use a unified mechanic. Keep the same charm. And keep it compatible with other material that’s come out.

What am I going to do with? I dunno. Maybe expand it. Maybe pretty it up. Only time will tell.

So here’s the PDF:

Am I crazy? Probably. And yes, this is the little preview that I posted last week to Patreon and Locals.

Stuff You Find In The Junk Box

I was digging around box of miscellaneous junk and grab a few little bits and gave them a face lift. Really don’t throw anything away.

First, there’s this pair of skulls. They were part of some Halloween decoration. I think it was a spooky potion bottle and they had some LED lights. I had torn those a part a long time ago for another project using the potion bottles. The bases of the skulls was threaded so I dug throw the nuts and bolts bin in the garage and found a couple of nuts that fit the threading. Then I had to decide how to paint them.

They sat there primed for about a week. I didn’t want to do stone again. Then I thought OK, how about stand stone? You know beige. Then I thought why try to make them look like brass with some patina. And here you go.

And there’s some bits from various toys sets that I’ve bought over the years. Really, I don’t remember where I picked this stuff up exactly but I figured a bit a repaint on them would make some decent throw down terrain.

Sneak Attack!

I’m pretty sure these came with toy soldiers.

Have fun out there. And remember. It’s OK to play with your toys.

Archways, Alcoves, and Archcloves?

I’m really loving Wylock’s basics series. So when I watched this episode, I said to myself that I really need to make some of these for my terrain collection. I figured that I’d start with alcoves and then things got weird.

I started thinking about how I would go about this. I don’t have proxon cutter and I’ve just got half inch foam. So it was going to be in two layers of foam. And then it hit me as I glanced over at my Dungeon Stackers. Isn’t an alcove just an arch on it’s side? I know as far engineering no it’s not. But for terrain it’s great. One piece that pulls double duty.

The base size that I came up with is 3 1/2 inches long and 2 inches tall for my foam. And the opening is 1 3/4 wide and tall. Of course I wanted to put a little weight in the bottom since this was to be used standing up and laying down. So just add a couple of small nuts and we’re good to go.

Yes, cutting out that opening was a pain. But a little sanding after the layers were put together made it passable. Then the usual base coating and dry brushing.

None shall pass.

And then just flip it on it’s side. And voila. Alcove.

And note, I did use those handy Dungeon Stackers in the background. I need to make something cool for future pictures.