Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Terrain Tutorial: Security Fences

Nothing for two weeks and now two posts in two days. Well, having finished the Nissen huts, I decided to make some security fences to create a compound. After spending a bit of time browsing the internet looking for ideas I decided to use a combination of various tutorials. This is what the finished fence looks like

The materials needed to make these are:
  • MDF for the bases
  • Toothpicks for the posts
  • Thin wire for the barbed wire (I used 0.2mm copper wire)
  • Aluminium Mesh (I used the stuff intended for car body repair)

First stage was deciding the size of the fences. The sheet of mesh was about 200mm long and could be cut into seven strips each 23mm high so I decided to go with that. The mesh is actually soft enough to cut with a sharp knife, using a steel ruler to keep the cut straight.

Next I cut the MDF into 200mm long strips each 25mm wide. I chamfered the edges and drilled holes for the toothpick posts before gluing them in place making sure to keep them as straight as possible. I should note that I had cut the points off one end of the toothpicks and glued this end into the holes. 

At this stage I decided to texture the bases to protect the wire mesh from paint, a decision I later regretted somewhat but I'll talk about the changes I would make if I were to do this again at the end of the post. I painted the MDF brown (Fleetwood Bitter Chocolate) and then added PVA and sand. When that was dry I painted two more coats of brown and then dryrushed with a cream (Fleetwood Bracken)

Next stage was painting the toothpicks silver. I used a cheap acrylic silver paint and it was shite, took about 3 coats to even begin to take hold. Eventually I used an old pot of silver from my model making days (Humbrol 56) and that did the job. Then it was time to glue the wire mesh to the posts. This was actually quite difficult as the mesh kept springing away from the posts before the super glue dried. Then I remembered that I had bought a bottle of Army Painter super glue activator. This stuff is magical. Put the glue on the post, attach the mesh, spray and it sets in a second. Its well worth getting for this sort of job.

The next stage was adding the barbed wire to the top of the posts. I could have bought some but decided to have a go at making my own. I got two lengths of wire (0.2mm diameter, its actually the wire used to connect doorbells) and inserted the ends into the chuck of an electric screwdriver while holding the other ends in a vice. Switch on the drill and watch the two wires coil around each other. I made a piece about 2m long the first time but when I went to glue it in place it kept coiling on me and it was more trouble that it was worth. undeterred I tried it again, this time making 220mm lengths. These lengths stayed rigid once made and were ideal for adding to the posts as shown below. There is a roughly 5mm gap between each strand and the wire. The wire was then painted using silver (Humbrol 56) but I wasn't too bothered it being perfect, the little bits of copper that show through add to the texture of it.

The final stage was clipping the posts to the right height. I had decide to leave this until the end as I wasn't sure what the finished height would be until this point. If I was doing it again I would shorten them earlier in the process as the forces applied to the toothpick caused some of the wires to spring loose. I didn't measure the posts, rather I just clipped them at what looked like the same height, I figured it made them look more realistic as it is rare to have these things perfect in reality.

The final piece was the gates. This piece was done much the same as the others except I left a loop in the upper strands of barbed wire to act as a hinge for the gates. The lower hinge is a piece of plastic from a cotton bud. The gates are made from steel wire bent into shape and glued to the mesh. This whole process was a right pain in the arse as I was too impatient between each stage and it was awkward making the gates to fit the gap. I probably would do this differently if I do it again.

That's it then. Grass tufts were added at random along the base of the wire and any pieces that had come loose were glued in place again. That left me with 21 pieces of fence including 4 corner pieces and the gate piece. I will probably make some more in a few weeks, some damaged pieces of fence and maybe another gate. Total cost was €8.40 for 3 sheets of the mesh and €0.59 for the toothpicks so €9 more or less. Everything else was lying around.

It was a bit of a learning process and I would do a few things differently now

  • I would glue the toothpicks to the MDF, cut them to the right height, glue the bared wire in place and then prime the lot with a spray.
  • Then I would texture the bases and paint everything.
  • Finally I would add the wire mesh
  • I would make the gates first and then do the end pieces, that way the gates would hang better.
I'm not 100% sure that the above revised method would work better but I would give it a try anyway.


  1. It's probably a bit odd to get excited over fences, but after seeing them in the flesh I think everyone needs a good set of these. I'm all about terrain with a multitude of uses.

  2. I don't think its odd at all after all they are guaranteed to stop Imperial Inquisitors dead in their tracks! I thoroughly agree though, do you think I could get rich making them and selling them? :)

    1. They do have a certain anti-Imperial quality. Inquisitor proof surface film or something. Rich might be over stretching it, but I think folks would be keen on these, myself included.