It's been way too long since I've posted anything here.
I've been working on this project off and on for a while, I've just been bad about taking pictures or reporting on my progress.
However, I've given myself an insane challenge to get my off my rear to finish this. I have a group of junior high students that I run games for. These girls don't get to play often, so I try to pull out the stops and make each session extra special. Our next game is in six days. I'm going to see if I can have this pyramid ready for them to play-test it.
Just to make it even more of a challenge, I start back working at school tomorrow, so other than today, I'm only going to have evenings to do this.
All right, with that insanity in front of me, it's time to get cracking.
All my pillars and wall sections will have magnets installed in their bottoms to hold them in place. These magnets are not just going to be glued onto the bases, but will sit inside recessed holes so that the magnets are flush with the base of the foam. There was no way I could create the hundreds of holes needed in a reasonable amount of time with a knife or hotwire engraver like I've done in the past.
Instead, I created a jig using the remains of my old 45-degree angle foam cutter, some scraps, and a carefully bent heavy piece of nichrome wire attached to my hotwire freehand router.
Here you can see the final setup. The router can be unscrewed from the wire so I can leave the wire in place for use later.
And here are some closeups showing how I carefully bent the wire to make sure it didn't touch itself (and thus make cold spots as it short circuited the heating path). You can also see the shims and guides I used to orient the pieces correctly. Here the jig is set for making holes in the bottoms of pillars.
Here you can see what the holes looked like. (These pics are of one of my test pieces as I was dialing in the jig to center the holes. The final holes were well-centered.)
Once all the pillars were done, I rearranged the guides on the jig and made two holes in the bottom of each wall section.
I secured the magnets in place with a blob of hot glue. To insure that the pillars cooled so the magnets would hold them upright at 90-degrees, I used my 1-2-3 blocks to make a set of right-angled corners for the pillars to rest against. Underneath everything is a large magnetic dry erase board covered in wax paper. This let all my pieces be held in place by their magnets as they cooled. It also insured that any magnets that were recessed too deeply would draw themselves down to be flush with the ground.
I then repeated the process with all my wall sections.
Once all the magnets were in place, it was time to prep for painting.
Before I can paint, I need to cover everything in a layer of PVA glue. This will not only toughen up the pieces and make them more durable, but it will protect the foam from the solvents in the paint.
I tried using a paintbrush to coat the sides of some wall sections with straight PVA glue, but it took FOREVER
. There was no way I could get everything covered before I retired.
So, I got creative.
Introducing ableman's secret recipe batter-dipped terrain!
Dilute PVA glue 50:50 with water to make a milky soup that will cling to foam, soak into cracks and crevices, but not smooth over surface details.
Then dip your pieces, coating all sides thoroughly, and arrange on some elevated hardware cloth to dry. The magnets will still stick to the cloth while drips go through. Once dry, pieces can be snapped off the wire since there isn't enough surface area to cause adhesion issues.
This is SO
much faster than brushing on the glue. I did this entire board's worth of pieces in the same amount of time it took me to brush the test pieces you can see on the table beside the dry erase board.
My hardware cloth scrap isn't big enough to do all the pieces at once. I still have the pillars and about a third of my wall pieces to go. Once the first batch dries, I'll finish those.
Here's hoping I can get everything done in time!
Happy building everyone.