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.
Try to feather the edge.
|Examples of problems with using poster board paper and foamboards for the base.|
Warping as the
Poster board paper
bubbling and peeling off.