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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Making Inexpensive Magnetic Bases for Flames of War

Homemade custom sized magnetic bases for FoW vehicles

By Tom Burgess

I base and magnetize all of my Flames of War models, including my tanks. I do this because it allows me to transfer my miniatures more safely in the metal storage boxes I use and using commonly themed bases helps to tie the infantry and gun teams with the vehicles that are also part of the same force. It also helps protect my vehicle models by giving me something to grip other than the model itself when moving the piece during game play.

This then causes me some problems as the three standard Flames of War base sizes don’t always fit what I need for a specific vehicle size and sometimes I need to make bases in standard sizes for non-Battlefront models which don’t come with bases. For the latter I could just buy Flames of War plastic bases and use Battlefront magnets, but that becomes rather pricy…and I’m finding the older bases without the holes hard to come by these days. So the ability to make low cost, custom bases has been very useful for me and I hope what I share here will be useful information for others who face the same challenges.

I learned this technique from my friend Rob, who has some great equipment like micro hobby saws, but I have also managed to get very reasonable results with some basic tools and materials.

The materials are:
12” x 12” adhesive backed vinyl floor tiles
8” x 15” magnetic floor vent covers
Texturing materials (optional)

The tools are:
Box cutter knife
Xacto hobby knife
Corner Rounder
Pen or Pencil

Let me cover these each in more detail:

The 12” by 12” adhesive backed vinyl floor tiles I buy from Lowes at just $0.38 each! I get the thinnest cheapest ones I can that have a slight textured surface,but don’t have an embossed design pressed in to the tile. A printed design, like the one in the image above is fine, I just want the whole surface of the tile to have the same textured finish all across it. I.e. no cut in grooves etc. These are found in the floor covering section of Lowes or your local hardware store of choice.
 The next item is the magnetic floor vent covers. I get these from Lowes in the heating/cooling section. You get three 8” x 15” sheets for just $4.96. Pretty good bargain for what ends up being 432 square inches of magnetic sheets!
A single vinyl floor tile and singe magentic floor coving side by side.

Close up of a vinyl floor tile. Note how the pattern is just prinited in rather than embossed, some tiles have embossed patterns. The cheaper ones generally don't so go cheap!

For texturing this time I'm going to use Golden Coarse Pumice Gel because that's what I used already on my Israeli infantry bases and I want these to match them. In the past I just added some areas of white glue to the base and sprinkled fine sand on them. Sometimes I added nothing and just drybrushed onto the vinyl surface top's already present texture.

For tools, the Box Cutter Knife, Xacto Knife, and pen/pencil are easy enough.  The only really new piece of kit is the corner rounder. The one pictured above I bought at a Michael’s, a craft store chain here in the US, in the scrap booking section. It was only a couple of bucks and is designed to clip “rounded corners” into cards that had a 90 degree corner. I previously bought one from Staples, an office supply store, but that one did not work nearly as well as what I have above.

So lets get get started!

Step 1: Turn over your tile and mark out the basic "sqaure" sizes of your bases. Today I'm making bases for my Israeli tank force and I need four large bases for the Sho't (Centurians), 10 stanadard "Medium Flames of War" sized bases for my AMX-13's, and ten "lengthened" medium bases form my halftracks models. So 24 bases total!

Step 2: Use the box cutter knife to cut out the individual bases from the vinyl floor tile. This takes a good bit of pressure to cut through the vinyl, so it kind of wears you out. Try not to do to much all at once to help keep your cuts straight and clean.

I cut into long strips first and then cut those into individual bases.

The 24 Basic bases are now all cut out!  This take a good bit of strength and your arms will be worn out by this point. My buddy Rob uses an electric hooby saw to make these cuts so his are a lot more accurate in the cuts and require a lot less muscle power. But since I don't have such a fancy piece of kit I just go with my more manual approach.

Step 3: Now I just insert each base into the corner rounder and press down to snip off the corner. Just make sure each flat edge of the base is seated firmly along the corner rounder's guides.

Corner rounded!

All four corners rounded!

All 96 corners (24 bases) rounded!

Step 4:  Mark out the same base layouts on the magentic vent covers that you did for the vinyl floor tile.

Fortunately, the magentic sheet is a lot easier to cut and a simple Xacto knife will eaisly do the job here. Good thing as my arms are usually worn out by this point!

All 24 magentic bottoms are now cut out in basic square sizes.

Step 5: Round the corners of the magnetic base bottoms like you did with the vinyl base tops above.

All base vinyl tops and magnetic bottoms cut and rounded.

For comparison in the above I have a standard Flames of War medium base in the middle, on the right is a standard Flames of War magnetic base bottom, and on left is a magnetic base bottom that I cut and rounded the corners on myself. There is no reason that you could not just cut, round  and super glue on your own magnetic base bottoms rather than buy the more expense pre-cut and adhesive backed ones offered by Battlefront.

Step 6: Peel off the paper backing on the vinly bases top's back.

Step 7: Press the magnetic base bottom to the adhesive back of the vinyl base top. Make sure the white top of the magnetic bottom goes aginst the adhesive back of the vinyl top.

Here's a side view of the magnetic bottom and viny top pressed togther. It's about the same thinkness as standard Flames of War plastic base and magentic bottom combined.

If you have some unsightly overlap from the lower base magnetic sheet, it can be easily trimmed away with the Xacto blade. I dont worry much about the top slightly overlapping the bottom as its barely noticable should it occur.

Here are the 24 bases ready for the next step, texturing.

Step 8: Brush on some Golden Coarse Pumice Gel onto each base. This step is purely optional. The vinyl base tops already have a bit of a textured top which could be brought out with careful dry brushing alone.

You really don't need to worry about texturing the center of the base if you're going to use it for a vehicle as I am here.  The vehicle will cover up the base center area anyway.

24 bases all textured.

Step 9: 24 bases coated with cheap flat black spray paint as a primer.

Step 10: Bases are painted with cheap Folk Arts "Teddy Bear Tan" paint.

Step 11: Bases are given a wash with GW Griffon Sepia.

Step 12: Bases are given a dry brush of Vallejo Iraqi Sand and are done!

My Israeli vehicles glued on to their new bases.
Based vehicle close-up. 

My whole new Israeli tank force securely stored on their new magnetic bases in their metal storage box.

The magnets are strong enough to hold the resin and plastic vehicles upside down from the inside of the upper lid of the metal storage box. The AMX-13 with their metal tracks are just a bit too heavy to do this with, but as my Israeli force expands the halftracks, Sho't tanks, and infantry can move to the to the inside of the upper lid making more room on the box bottom.

I hope this technique will be useful for some readers of  There's a lot of reasons to base your tanks and there's a lot of reasons not to base them. But if you do want to base your Flames of Wars vehicles or make some custom sized bases, then there's no need to spend a lot of money on them!

Tom has been playing wargames since the late 70’s, and Flames of War since 2007. He maintains a gaming website for the BattleVault Gamers of Kentuckiana and posts and moderates WWPD as Iron-Tom.

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