Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Getting Basic Part 1 - Building a Flying Stand

Some of you may wonder what I've been up to, as I haven't been updating my painting progress hereabouts for a while. Well, it doesn't mean I haven't been painting. Just haven't had much time to write about it.

So I decided I'd treat you with one of the projects I have been working on this past month.

This is a flying stand that I made for a friend for his Forge World Tau Tigershark. He had a fairly simple requirement that it just "look better than the chunky block of wood and steel pin" he was already using, and he wanted it in time for Adepticon 2012. So I decided to treat him with something a little nicer.
I even made a mini diorama on it which tells the story of a couple Imperial Guard Scouts behind enemy lines. One of the Guardsmen is apparently mortally wounded, clutching a grenade for the next Xenos scum who comes his way while the other is desperately trying to reach his HQ on the small headset VOX.

Because there was something heavy going to be mounted on to this flying stand, I did a load test before doing anything further. Here you can see the raw base with about 10lbs of books.

The base is an oval piece of maple 1/2" thick, 10.5" long and 7" wide. I found this at a local store in the craft section. The mounting block is 3/4" inch maple, which had a hole drilled in for a threaded anchor. The anchor was bonded and press fit into the hole so that it's claws were anchored in.

The rod is a piece of 1/2" diameter clear extruded acrylic rod that I purchased from a local supplier. They are my new favourite hobby supply store, as they have tonnes of great things. To mount it to the base, I drilled a 1/4" hole into the rod and threaded in a dual threaded nut, with a self threading end, and a machine bolt end.

The self threading end is screwed into the rod, and the machine bolt end is screwed into the anchor. I had to cut that end down a bit so it would fit, but a bit of cutting with a dremel and a cutting disk, and then chamfering the end so that the thread can start takes care of that nicely.

The scenic part of the base was built up right on top of the wood. The block made a nice platform for a balcony of a ruined building. I built the ruins up using some Games Workshop building scenery. Bits were taken from the Imperial Sector as well as the Shrine of the Aquila. Pieces were chopped up and battle damaged where appropriate, which made them go further, and look a little more convincing.

The brick rubble was made simply by getting long straight pieces of plastic sprue, then nipping and gouging it and chopping them up into brick like pieces with a pair of hobby clippers. This creates an effective looking rubble brick without too much expense, though it can be time consuming. I recommend doing this while watching a movie, or listening to your favourite sound track, or pod cast. If you get in the habit of doing this with all the sprues as you accumulate them, the job will never seem too daunting. Just remember to use the straight sections, and avoid the areas with raised printing, as that spoils the effect. You can also use longer pieces to represent metal beams or other types of column and debris.

All of these pieces and large debris chunks were glued on with a hot glue gun. This ensures a good solid and fast bond, so the build goes quick. It also helps prevent the wood from warping since there is no water being absorbed.

The detritus and shard like rubble was again made from sprue. It's made in much the same way as sprue brick rubble, except that it is ground sprue which gives nice random shapes that help convey the effect. You could also use sand and gravel, or model railroad ballast, though I find it is less shard like, and looks more like stoney dirt as opposted to broken shards of concrete. Kitty litter could also be used for this, but it can have a little too even a texture, so I recommend mixing it with a different sized sand.

The detritus was glued down with unthinned white glue. Just paint it on to the surface, and sprinkle it on like you would when sanding a regular base. The reason it's unthinned is to help avoid the wood absorbing too much water and warping. When the glue is dry, then go over it again with a thinned down white glue. It should look like 1% skim milk. This will help secure any loose debris and ensure everything is rock solid. Since the first layer of glue was unthinned, it will dry into a nice protective shell so there is little danger of the wood absorbing the water at this point.

For a more natural look, glue scatter and debris on from largest to smallest. This will allow you to pile smaller rubble onto the ruins and make them look partially buried. It also allows you better control of the scatter in terms of placement, allowing you to create a gradual change from basic rubble to building specific rubble, which is what was done here.

When everything is glued down, let it all cure overnight. The rubble will harden to a very tough and durable surface, and it will then be ready for painting, which we will look at in the second part of this series.

Related Articles:
Getting Basic Part 2 - Painting a Flying Stand

Games Workshop


  1. you probably don't have access to this anymore, but pictures of how it actually attaches to the tigershark would be extremely helpful, as I am having trouble visualizing what it is you did. Also, what supplier did you use to get the acrylic rod?


  2. Sorry for not replying sooner!

    I don't have pictures of the tigershark mounted, but picture if you will, my friend had mounted a hard metal rod with epoxy to the center of mass of the tigershark, as part of the original flight stand. He then drilled a matching hole in the top of the acrylic rod. It is a friction fit and hold very well.

    As for source of acrylic rod, I just buy it from a local plastics supplier. It is less than a dollar per foot. Check your local business listings for plastics suppliers!

    Good luck with your projects!