Thursday, April 04, 2013

Wattle Fencing for Wargames

Dark Ages England, World War II's Eastern Front...and Trollbloods?  What do they have in common?...they could all use some wattle fencing!  In my effort to create some more "do it yourself" terrain for Saga(Dark Ages Skirmish Game), I have played around with making some crude, wattle fencing scenery pieces for my gaming table.  These could be used for just about any era of historical wargaming or fantasy wargaming.

Since my experiment met with (at least what seemed to me to be) success, I thought I'd share a complete terrain tutorial on the method and materials that I used.  I actually built the fences using two different materials, so I will share both methods....

Method #1: Wattle Fencing from Twigs...
As I was walkign around in my yard, I noticed a lot of post-Winter debris including twigs of various sizes...these would be the basic material for my wattle fences. If you don't have access to natural material, scroll down to Method #2 below for an alternative.
First let me list the materials that I used for the "twig" variety.  As shown above:
1)wooden dowels(from a craft store...round tooth picks could suffice)
2)the dowels cut into small pieces
3)small twigs
4)cardboard("card" to my European friends)
5)a pin vice(an x-acto knife could be used instead)
6)white glue(a.k.a. PVA glue)
The first thing I did was drill some small holes in the cardboard base that the cut dowel pieces(acting as our fence posts) would be glued into.  Below you can see them glued into place...
It is very important that you let the glue holding the dowels/posts in place thoroughly dry before going on to the next step, as threading the twigs between the dowels will place some stain on them, and if the glue isn't drying they will "lean" or even pop out of their hole. 
Now comes the fun part(as shown above).  Start to thread your twigs in between the posts.  I add a little dab of glue where the twigs make contact with the posts.  As far as the length of the twigs goes, I precut them down to the size I needed for the particular base I was using.  A good rule of thumb is to make sure they extend beyond the outer posts to the edge of the base.  That way, when you connect various fencing pieces together, you get a contiguous wall. 
Above you can see the completed piece with all of the twigs in place.  You could easily adapt this approach for longer or shorter(see below) sections of fencing.  Finally, here is the painted and based wattle fencing section:
Note that some wattle fences have more posts and a tighter weave.  These are well modeled by kits such as the Renedra one, but I wanted something more rustic looking(if you search the web for "wattle fencing", you'll find images of both types.  You could easily use the same method I did above for the tighter weave...just add more posts and used more pliable floral or soldering wire as your horizontal weave. 

Method #2: Wattle Fencing from Leather Cord...
So let's you say you don't live in a wooded area as I do or have access to twigs...what do you do?  Another option is to use leather cording available in craft stores(sometimes even the craft section of discount stores).  Let me go over the materials for this alternative approach:
For this method I used...
1)leather cording
2)leather cording(cut to length)
3)a ready to go base of cardboard & dowels(see above)
5)super glue

This method is a little more labor intensive but still pretty easy.  You start by making a base just as with the twig method...
...then you weave the leather cord pieces in between the posts.  Now there are a couple of nuiances to this procedure.  First, because the cord comes wrapped around it's cardboard packaging it tends to curl.  After cutting the bits, I curled the cording around a pencil in different directions and flexed it between my fingers to straighten it out somewhat.  When I placed it between the posts(as shown above), I superglued the cord(generously!) to the posts where it made contact.  Because the cord isn't as rigid as the twigs, I used pins to hold it next to the dowels while the superglue dried.
As I added additional leather cording, I added pins on the reverse sides to hold these new bits in place as the glue dried.  This became an easy path for me thread addtitional pieces into.  Finally, when all the pieces were in place and the glue was dry, I removed the pins and had this...
Once the piece was given base texture and paint it came out like...
One advantage of the cord option could be that you could thread longer sections and corner pieces without worrying about the length limitations of the twigs.  Now if you're thining the twig version looks a little better, I concurr.  However, when we compare the two pieces side by sid, after using the same basing and painting technique, the difference is fairly negligable...
Two of the above pieces are the leather variety(upper left and upper right) while two are the twig type(lower left and lower right).  Can they be used together? You be the judge...
Now that I have a method for these fences that I like plan to churn them out in good number.  They're easy and cheap to make, that is for sure.  If you find this helpful or have any insights of your own, feel free to leave a comment.

Thanks for viewing and reading....


  1. Nice to see more terrain tutorials -- keep them coming =)

  2. Lovely work - and an excellent, clear and informative tutorial, too. What's to not like?

    Thanks for posting,


  3. Thanks to both of you for the kind words...I appreciate the feedback.

  4. This is simply awesome! superb tutorial :)