Making 3D Trenches

Although I had spent quite some time thinking about, planning & actually making the trench system already displayed in this blog, I was determined to go the whole hog & make a 3D Trench System.

First thing I had to jettison was the idea that a wargames board should be in 1 piece. If I was to be able to make up a varied batlefield I would have to go modular again.

Having had some success with a 75x75cm board for HotE 15mm I followed that model & looked at 25x25 modules for the trenches - although I intend to do a 75x25 strip for Nomansland to make it easier.

First step was getting my friendly Homebase guy (actually a gal in this case) to cut down a large hardboard sheet into 25x25 squares. Believe me, this saves time.

Then, Zulu Zach (in the building trade) came across a free supply of foam sheets - basically, it comes in rolls & when they get towards the end of a roll they throw the stuff out! God, I love free stuff! It comes in 5mm thickness & I have been using it for all my hills, building them up, contour style, before smoothing them out with Polyfilla.
In this case, I went for 4 layers & having carefully mapped out on graph paper each module I cut out & used PVA (other glues will melt the foam!) to build up the layers. I found that, however well I measured, the entry/exits of each trench, they were never quite right, so allow for a bit of trimming or filling where necessary but DO make sure each module matches up with ALL modules so you can mix & match.
I made up the wooden revetments as before, using spills from the chemistry lab in the school I attended back in 1968 - yeah, wargamers are hoarders - glued to beer mat card & with uprights spaced evenly. Just measure out each section, make it up & glue it in, remembering to allow enough room for the element. My bases are 30mm deep so I allowed at least 40mm gaps in the foam so, with the revetments added I had about 32mm clearance. This can be variable along the trench but the ends must be spot on or they will not be able to mix & match as required. PVA takes an age to set, so cut more beer mat to hold it in place.
Make sure they fit with each other within the module
 but - more importantly - between each module.
Don't worry about being TOO exact right now, the Polyfilla stage will fine tune every angle.
Best to check the depth of the trenches, bearing in mind we will be putting in duckboards & adding sandbags later.
Also, check the fit - I want to have 6 bases per module so they gotta have enough room. My father was a carpenter & he always said "measure twice, cut once"
Then, I uses Homebase filler & brown flock to bed in the revetments.
Leave enough room for the duckboards. I made these up by glueing more ancient spills (BTW I scored them with a Stanley Knife to show planking)  to beer mat.
Then fit the duckboards. Don't have to be exactly where an element may be but should be spaced naturally.
Next, the sandbags. A lot of the stuff I post here has come from my own fevered imagination but a lot comes from other sites. Go to for a video on sandbag making.
Suffice it to say, it's pretty easy, otherwise I couldn't do it. You need some Das Pronto or other modelling clay that dries at room temperature. Roll out a tube the size which represents a sandbag in your chosen scale. With a knife, score it in lengths, then press down to simulate gravity on the sandbag. 2 layers is fine for trenches, 4 will be needed for MG emplacements etc I then apply a generous helping of PVA to bond each layer & fill in holes. 
Then paint it a buff colour before black washing it. I'm using separate sandbags in roughly 40mm lengths so that I can reverse my trench modules for more variety but you can fix them permanently if you wish, of course. This may cause stacking problems later so think on.
Here's an emplacement. This will be used when a MG or Art element is placed in Bad Going & will negate the effects of BG as long as it remains in the emplacement.
Then I cut some depressions into the top layer & used Homebase filler with some cork & brown flock to cover the non-trench areas.
Again, don't worry about the edges too much, we'll make sure they fit later.
In the meantime, my oppo Dave the drum is a bit of a WW1 expert & he informs me that the Germans always believed they were ther to stay on the defensive so built their trenches very robustly with wood revetments throughout whereas the Brits, God bless 'em, were always hoping for a breakout so were much more of the temporary mind & made use of a lot of corrugated iron sheets. Now, if anyone out there knows where I can get 15mm corrugated iron sheets, for God's sake tell me. In the meantime, I'm making my own. Take a length of paper & with Blu-Tak painstakingly lay out your corrugations. I have used my spare pikes/spears to do this. Leave for a couple of days then remove & PVA one side. When dry, glue this side to some beer mat & PVA the other side. That's as far as I've got. I hope to paint them rusty & substitute them for some wooden revetments in my next batch.

After much experimentation, I decided to make things easier by cutting back the edges & adding wooden strips so each module would match up. Note the lip all around to accomodate the filler.
Checking the fit & adding the Noman's Land module
painting the module
the table assembled with a little bit of static grass here & there
added an entrenched hill for my medium artillery
an emplacement for artillery & sandbags for the trench line
some shell holes & battlefield detritus
& barbed wire - don't get me started on the barbed wire - why couldn't they use coils of the stuff like in WW2 godsdammit! & why does superglue only glue me to me & leave what I'm glueing untouched?
an aerial view of the finished table

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