Day 1 was off to a running start. It went a lot faster than I thought it would, once I started.
The basic design is 2 pieces of 2x4 compressed board, with a 1"x2" pine frame around it, to protect the 3/4" sheet of polystyrene. Materials and estimated prices follow:
(2) Sheets of Compressed board, $6.50 ea
(1) Sheet of Polystyrene, $10.50
(3) 8' lengths of 1x2 pine, $3 ea
I actually have enough Polystyrene (foam from here on) to do two more boards, since I'm not using a full 4'x8' length. So another $22 and I can have two more modules. I also bought
20 #6 1 1/4" screws for the pine trim, only to discover I had #8s in the same length.
I began by drawing the design on the two boards just to get a scaled idea of the layout. It turns out that the 24"x48" boards are actually 24 1/4" x 49". As much as it bugs me that it'll be off by 1/4" on one side, ripping a 4' length of board, for only a bit more than a blade's width and without a table saw, would bug me even more. Connecting roads won't be off that much. The extra inch on the long side was easily remedied. I then began framing out the board. This would give it more strength and keep the foam from getting banged up.
When I first pictured this board, I had grand visions of perfectly mitered corners and superb craftsmanship (with pine and MDF). Then, I woke up, realized that I did not have the proper tools for miters (I freehanded one with the circular saw), and decided that there was nothing wrong with a simple butt joint.
Someday, I'll make the $5000 table with dovetailed storage drawers, but for now, I'll stick with my strengths. I was able to make it so that the end-grains point toward the deployment edges, so they won't be visible from the side. Small victories... I'm also glad that I made this decision after making only one mitered corner. I was able to correct it, without too much hassle. Anways, I glued the trim, then strengthened the attachment with screws. This board is heavy and durable. After lifting these with only the frame attached, I would definitely recommend 2x2 boards if you are planning on transporting them.
I framed one corner of the board, then cut the foam before framing the other two. This helps to ensure that I have a tight fit for the foam. I framed 1 corner, put a spacer in (of the same width as the trim), and flipped it over on top of the foam to cut it. This worked really well and gave me a straight edge to cut. This foam dulls blades fast, but since the edges will be hidden, I didn't care if they were jagged or at a slight angle. Once the foam was cut, I framed out the other two edges, test fit the foam, then applied glue and pressed it in. At first, I thought gravity and the tight fit would keep the foam in place to dry, but by the time I had finished the second board, the first had popped up in the middle and needed to be reglued. I have an abundance of books, so I took the boards into my office and will now let them dry overnight. I also threw together two 10"x14" pieces of scrap foam for the built in hill.
The hill will be my next step. Also, the foam is slightly smaller than the trim, so I will apply plaster around the edges to smooth it out. This will all be hidden under the felt, and the edges will ensure that the boards are the same heights where they meet up. But this step will prevent models around the edges from being off-balance. So, tomorrow (hopefully) I will work on the hill, smooth out rough edges, and maybe even start on the felt. I am going to do the cliff section after the felt, the hill before. Then, I need to assess my paint supply. I've collected cans of paint over the past few months from the mistake rack and I'm pretty sure I have what I need.