I moved into my new place in September, and I'm very lucky to have a big room that I can call my dedicated "geek room". The room is large enough for two sofas with a big coffee table for boardgaming, my painting desk, a couple of glass cabinets and, of course, a 6'x4' gaming table.
The only issue is that funds have been a little tight since we moved, so I've been stuck with my old folding 4'x4' board until I could find some cash to buy all the wood and supplies I needed for the new board...... then I had a bit of a "eureka" moment!
Why not build my board from pallet wood? It's free, readily available, strong, and looks really cool and rustic. Off I went.
I managed to turn this:
.... with a small amount of time, effort, and a cost of about £40 GBP.
WARNING: Choose your pallets carefully and do your research. Coloured pallets are not recommended unless you know their origin, as they often carry chemicals (even if you know the origin they may have been reused/recycled and held nasties in the past!). DO NOT use those marked MB for "methyl bromide".
Preparing the pallet wood is the most time consuming part of the project, and I recommend doing this somewhere outdoors or in a garage or workshop- it's messy!
I initially tried taking the pallets apart with just a claw hammer. This was doable, but extremely difficult. My weapon of choice in the end was a nail-bar or "crowbar", about 3 feet long.
Top Tip- Lie your pallet down flat on the floor to take it apart. That way you can stand on it to hold it still, and use your body weight. Doing it leaning against a wall is infinitely more difficult.
Another Top Tip- I found that on most pallets, the plank on the left, plank on the right, and centre plank, were all fixed down with many more (and longer) nails than the inbetween planks. I ended up accepting that these planks were probably going to get broken with the crowbar, but that would allow me to rescue the ones underneath without too much difficulty.
Once you have a pile of wood, it really needs sanding to remove any dirt, grime, splinters and to bring out the character of the wood. I made my own sanding block by gluing two sections of 4" pallet together, and wrapping sandpaper around it.
The board itself is 18mm MDF. This cost me £20 from B&Q in the UK, and they cut it to 6'x4' exactly for me. Builders Merchants would do this even cheaper.
Next comes the fun bit- assembly!
Since the planks aren't long enough to cover a whole edge, you'll need to add two planks thickness each edge, with some overlap, to provide the stiffness required. Think building a wall with Lego.
I then masked off the wood, and starting adding my texture. This was a mixture of tile grout, polyfiller, brown acrylic paint (wilkinsons) and PVA glue.
Next was a coat of walnut wood varnish (water based for easy brush cleaning).
Top Tip: If using multiple pots of varnish (even if they are supposedly the same colour!!!!), mix them together first to avoid catastrophies like the above photo- two pots of the same varnish were different colours!
Then I drybrushed the board white, followed by another coat of varnish:
Finally, the board need a couple of coats of matt varnish. I sprinkled some static grass onto the board while the final coat was still wet- varying shades of grass in patches usually looks best!
And it's done!
The board still needs more matt varnish- I've bought some spray to finish it off later.
I even knocked up the shelf above from pallet wood so that I could have a lamp to light the board!
Hope that was interesting and helpful!