What To Build On

The Base Section

The size of the piece you are making will determine how 'thick' the base needs to be. Some pieces really do not need a base and if you are unsure as to whether or not it is going to become part of a larger project or if you are going to permanently place it on your board or diorama, (glue it down), then do not add a base yet; this applies more to things like hills, walls, and buildings.

  • The best stuff I have found to use is 'hardboard'. You can buy it in 1/8" and 1/4" thicknesses and it comes in 4ft X 8ft sheets.
    • 1/4" is best for larger bases; over 18".
    • 1/8" for everything else.
  • Foamboard does not work very well unless it is coated thoroughly with a hard coating, (glue and paint mix will work)
  • pressboard and poster paper will work if you are covering the bottom of a hill or wall section. But, I would still use the 1/8" hardboard or just leave it so I could add it on later or use the piece later in something else.

Cutting and Shaping the Base

I have always used an old $20 jigsaw. A coping saw works great for adjustments and you can also cut out the piece with it if you want, (they are cheap $2-$10). Power tools are great, I do not have a bandsaw, (if I get one it will be an old butchers bandsaw - more useful for terrain making), I have a scroll saw which is great for small pieces. I would like to try one of those spiral hole cutters again. This time with a good bit on it. The hardboard is very tough stuff.

After I have cut out my base section, I will taper the edge, (feather it down to the table). A wood rasp works well for this, I also use a wood shaver, (which has turned into a handy tool), I picked it up at the hardware store for $5.

Pressboard Problems

Feathered Hardboard Base

Try to feather the edge.
It will look better when you are finished.


Pressboard Problems Examples of problems with using poster board paper and foamboards for the base. Pressboard Problems
Warping as the
paint dries.
Poster board paper
bubbling and peeling off.