Building a keep-castle
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Post Posted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 11:35 am 
 

We are going to try our hands at Building a keep (or castle) using wood, pre built rooms/buildings (cardboard), and other materials

Well........ we are going to ATTEMPT to build a keep or castle.
We got the pre-built rooms/buildings from the Hobby Lobby, and at just $2-$4 each, they were too cheap NOT to use, and will save loads of construction time.

EDIT: We decided NOT to use the cardboard stuff.........
The towers at each corner will be pre-built wood; but the walls and the remainder of the buildings and rooms will be built from pieces we put together ourselves..


This will be our VERY First effort at building anything of this sort, so while I do not expect it to look even close to professional, we are hoping for at least some level of realism as to structural semi-accuracy.

Plus the biggest thing is the pleasure of doing the project with the wife and grandson.

The castle will be used for D&D miniature play for myself and my grandkids.

The building team:
My oldest grandson (12, years old-Colton), my wife, and myself.

Schedule:
Planned completion is set for the end of the coming weekend.

Model and plans:
For the basic model we picked a castle from (Pg. 18.) Castle Book II by Judges Guild and we plan to build it roughly similar to the one shown there.
Some changes were made for stability (See scan below).

As you can see from the scan, the castle on page 18, is a rectangle with an offset large square tower at each the four corners and a two-level entry area (Sally port) at the center of the main wall.

Our castle will be square with the towers flush with the outer walls.

We plan to try to make some of the keep/castle modular so that we can lift off some roofs and some floors to place minis inside, such as inside the towers, barracks, the main building, the armory, and the winch room/sally port.

Dimensions, and individual elements:
The base will be a light but sturdy 3/8 inch single sheet of wood, 24" x 24".

The outer walls of the castle will be made of light wood, and will be 24" x 24" and about 5 inches tall.
There will be a 2-1/2 inch wide wood walkway around the outer walls, except at each tower and the sally port.
(The sketch indicates a 3 inch walkway, but the wood is 2-1/2 inches wide)

The four towers will be store bought pre-built lacquered cardboard and will measure 4 inches square and 9-10 inches tall, with three floors each at about 3 inches high.
The three interior floors will be built by us; and the towers will be modular for each floor (that is the plan anyway).
I wanted the towers to jut out from the walls a bit to match the model (See the scan of pg 18 - Castle Book II below) but for ease of construction and more stability; we decided to place the towers flush with the castles outer walls.

The Sally port will be light wood, and will be two stories tall (3 inches wide by 5 inches long) with a winch room (For the drawbridge) on the second floor and a completely enclosed sally port below.
Portcullis's will be built using wooden dowells, to be pleaced at the entrance and exit at each end of the sally port.
The floor of the winch room will have 1/4 inch holes pre drilled so that (imaginary) boiling pitch can be poured onto victims below if the outer portcullis is breached.
Additionally, there will be arrow slits (or spear slits) on the walls and the interior portcullis doors of the sally port; four slits on each sidewall and two slits in the interior portcullis doors.
(See rough sketch below)
The main function of the winch room is (of course) for the drawbridge system.
Thin wire for lowering and raising the drawbridge will be attached to each outer corner at the far end of the drawbridge, with the other ends of the wires attached somewhere inside the winch room.
We have not yet decided how to build and exactly how to place the drawing mechanism itself.

Inside the castle there will be a few buildings, all place along the inside of the outer walls.
Some of them will be store bought pre-built buildings/rooms.
The store bought rooms have removable roofs, which will be discarded as they are made with numerous high-pitched rooflines and will not fit under the walkway along the outer walls. (See sketch)
We will replace those discarded roofs with wood roofs, pitched downward from the walkway above and against the outer walls.
The interior floor plans and walls of the pre-built buildings fit with our basic plan and will save a lot of time for the project.
The remainder of the buildings will be built from the same light wood as the walls and walkway.
We plan to build a stock enclosure for livestock; using wood twigs for the fence.

So far the material costs are:
$55 for the wood and pre-built buildings.
$26 for an electric spads/staple gun and spads. (This will help loads I think)
We already had plenty of wood glue.

Paint will cost about $5.
We plan to spray paint the entire castle some middle shade of gray, and we might come back later with a darker paint (Brushed on) to represent the mortared layers between stone blocks for the walls (Or not).
EDIT: I actually spent about $12.5 on the paint.
The main-Base paint was $7.50 for stonework paint (spray paint in a can) with actual texture and the clear coat cost $5.


I wanted to use a pre-made grass terrain roll (looks like grass, or sand or dirt) for the earth areas, but the cost was $12 per roll, so we may just use a brown shade of paint for that instead.

Scan of the model from page 18 of the Castle Book II.
We will basically use this plan, with the towers aligned evenly with the outer walls instead of offset.

Image

Scan of the rough plan sketch.
Image


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Post Posted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 11:46 am 
 

Sounds like a very cool project!
Looking forward to seeing pictures of the finished product!  :D


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Post Posted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 12:54 pm 
 

Instead of fine wire you may want to see if you can get small lengths of fine chain. A craft store may have these kind of links, but I've done well picking up cheap lots of costume jewlry from garage sales/thrift stores/goodwills.

  

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Post Posted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 11:17 pm 
 

Remember that to represent an actual fortified tower, the tower should project beyond the castle walls by a short distance on two sides....so that guards in the towers enfilade anyone taking shelter at the base of the walls.

Look closely at the towers on your model from Judges Guild.

Just a suggestion, but seems like no extra cost to accomplish.


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Post Posted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 11:28 pm 
 

Great idea Aneoth!  I can't wait to see the pictures.

I was lucky enough as a child to have my grandfather not only make me generic castles, but a western town (a street with typical Western buildings running down each side--it's about five feet long), a farm, and for some reason a log cabin!  

He outfitted them all with these amazing plastic figures (which I can't find anywhere, especially the Cowboys/Gunfighters).  And to think he did it all in 1973/4 with scrap wood and old paint still amazes me.  

I think some of my fascination with RPG's came from his work. If I ever get a camera I'll post some pictures.

Wonderful stuff Aneoth.


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Post Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:05 am 
 

FormCritic wrote:Remember that to represent an actual fortified tower, the tower should project beyond the castle walls by a short distance on two sides....so that guards in the towers enfilade anyone taking shelter at the base of the walls.

Look closely at the towers on your model from Judges Guild.

Just a suggestion, but seems like no extra cost to accomplish.


Yes, I agree.
However, it will not likely happen.
The sketch in the JG book and the reason I think the towers jut out (To shoot potential wall clingers) were exactly my own arguments.
I was voted down.

First the wife thinks the structure will be all the stronger with the towers completely inside the walls, and that the other way would be too hard to make work, and that we could…..
….. pretend.......
Meaning that the archers can see the wall clingers anyway.  :?

That point is moot now though as we have completed the outer walls.
The towers can only be set in the corners snuggled up against the inside walls now, no matter what towers we use.

I almost lost another argument about the Sally Port being modular and truly two stories.
The wife said we could just pretend it was two stories.
Saying we could just push the minis inside the sally port and not even have a second story at all. :?
That was her best reason.

I showed them pictures of actual existing castles with sally ports too.

Finally I said that we could pretend we already have a castle and save all that work to start with.
Although I thought it was a humorous comeback, She was not amused. :roll:

I was hoping to build the castle so that many of the buildings (including the towers) are modular with actual useable floors at each level.

ie: Remove the roof to play inside the top level, remove that levels floor and play inside the next lower level…. Etc.

Still with the deadline for completion being this weekend, we cannot have all the functionality that we might want for now; So we shall have to take some shortcuts.
For one, the towers are unlikely to be modular with actual interior floors; at least not at first

The pre-built lacquered cardboard towers are out though.
The wife (Bless her soul) visited another Hobby Store on her way home from work last night and she saw some actual pre-built castle towers with all the trimmings made of wood and they are pre-painted with stone work designs. 8O

SWEET!

From her description, they are not as tall as the towers I had planned for, and they are not multi story inside, they are also not modular, but they will do well enough I think; at least at first.
They can always be revised and improved later on, as I do not plan to actually attach them to the walls for now (Perhaps never).
She will be picking at least one up tonight for us all to look over.

The only thing I wondered is why she didn't simply get one while she was there.
Or if not get one, then at least take a picture with her phone…..
She even had one in her shopping basket while she shopped for other stuff and later took it back out. :?
She does not know why she did that either…..

One last thing for today:
Last night we figured out how to do the pulley system for the drawbridge.
The chain system stated above was a nice idea, but we will be using a bobbin and bobbin thread instead.
We might upgrade it to thin chain later though.
The bobbins are the right size to use and they have a hole in the middle already.
The ones we will be using are also made of metal.
They are truly a good item and can easily be used to place on a stick and turned to pull up or lower the drawbridge.
We need to find some way to elevate them with the stick, but that should be the easy part.

Paul, yes please do post some pictures.


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Post Posted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 9:29 am 
 

JasonZavoda wrote:Instead of fine wire you may want to see if you can get small lengths of fine chain. A craft store may have these kind of links, but I've done well picking up cheap lots of costume jewlry from garage sales/thrift stores/goodwills.


Done.
Found some long length of chain (jewelry isle of the craft store).
Thanks for the idea! 8)


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Post Posted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 10:02 am 
 

We are working on the project in the evenings only, as my wife and I both have daytime jobs.

The single picture blow represents the results of our First evening of construction:
We did a lot more planning and had many discussions about what to use and how to do things.
They are nessessary though as none of us have ever done this before.
We plan, discuss, then do, then discuss some more, and we learn better ways of doing things as we go. (hopefully)

We were only able to piece together the outer caslte walls that first night.
We used the softest wood we could find (Poplar).
Held together with: wood glue and small nails called spads.
(Using electric nail gun... man I LOVE that thing!)
Using the hammer shown below, we counter sank all of the nails so they will not show after the paint is applied.

Once the glue and nails were set, we placed the walls onto other smaller boards to dry overnight so that the glue runoff would not cause the walls to stick to the board we are using for the construction site.

The outer wall dimensions are:
3-1/4" tall
And is basically a square: 24"x24".

Image


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Post Posted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 10:19 am 
 

Day Two:

We got a bit more work done last night.

We are having some trouble trying to find good ways to cut holes and trim the soft wood.
Of course for the basic cutting, we use a Mitre board and a normal handsaw.
Easy work and accurate enough.

For the other work: Too prescise and detailed for the Mitre board and my jigsaw is out... too brutal.
The one time I used it, it destroyed the soft wood like a garbage disposal does with food....
So, I am trying to use a Dremel for all of the smaller cutting work now.
(For the first time ever I should add).
And it does a little better, but the work I am doing with it is not as accurate as I would like. (inexperience no doubt)
The wife wont even try it, and we cant let Colton use power tools either.
So I am the only one left to do it and I suck at it.

The mini shown in the pictures below is the largest humanoid mini that I have and we are using him to dictate the scaling for our construction work.

Entrance at ground level view of the Sally Port.
Portcullis not in in this picture though you can see the holders to either side of the doorway.
This is the lower level entrance from the entrance looking towards the inner courtyard of the castle in the background.
I will try to enlarge the inner doorway tonight. :roll:
Sighs......

Image

Basically the Same view with the front portcullis in place.
Image


Overhead view of the Sally port first level.
In this picture, you can now start to see the reason for those pieces outside the wall on either side of the entryway.
They hold the portcullis against the outer wall and are loose enough to allow the portcullis to be slid in and out by hand.
Note that this building WILL be modular.
The boards to either side against the outer wall are the sentry walkways along the outer wall.
They are 1" below the top of the wall, and are 2" wide.
They each have a square wood piece (3/8" square) as a support beam underneath (not seen) which is attached to the underside of each walkway with glue and spads.
That combined unit is then placed against the inside of the outer wall and spads are shot through the wall (from the outside) into the support beam and the spads are then counter sunk.
I have an interioir building partially built that is the model for how high all the walkways will be (I will be using a uniform level for each walkway).
The walkway is placed on top of the building shell and then they are moved (as a unit) into place against the inside wall.
I then use the gun to shoot the spads into place.
I pre-marked the distance below the top of the wall to be sure I did not miss the square wood piece when shooting the spads from the outside of the walls into the support.
Image


The mini is now standing on the floor of the second level of the Sally port.
This is exactly even in elevation with the walkways to either side and I plan to create a doorway on each side of the Sally ports second level for access to both walkways.
Image

Mini is now standing on the roof of the Sally port.
Above the second floor and this point is about 2" above the level of the outer walls.
Image

With the last two pictures here, you can see the four outer walls, with the four pre-built Towers at each corner and the first level of the Sally port in place.
In the first one, you can also barely see the outer walls side walkways.
The rear outer wall walkway has not yet been placed.
The second picture shows the side walkways better though.
Notice the gap between the walkway at the front and the towers.
I was forced to allow the gaps due to the base on the towers.
I wanted to be able to take the towers out and that base is wider than the tower walls (Obviously).
The base of each tower sticks out about 1/2 inch beyond the walls of the towers.
I am thinking of making an attempt to remove those bases, and possibly even cut each tower to allow modular use for the levels inside.
If I do it will be done much later on.
For now, I shall let sleeping dogs alone.
I am afraid that I will do too much damage to them trying to remove the base.
Image

Image


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Post Posted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 7:18 pm 
 

Sweet.  Have you decided on the finish?  Are you going to stain it or paint it with spray paint or paint from Hobby Lobby (crackle paint, faux-stone paint, or another type of craft paint)?

As far as wood-cutting goes, have you thought about doing a rough cut with the mitre saw and then using sandpaper or a wood rasp/bastard file?

  

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Post Posted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:21 pm 
 

JohnGaunt wrote:Sweet.  Have you decided on the finish?  Are you going to stain it or paint it with spray paint or paint from Hobby Lobby (crackle paint, faux-stone paint, or another type of craft paint)?

As far as wood-cutting goes, have you thought about doing a rough cut with the mitre saw and then using sandpaper or a wood rasp/bastard file?


Tonight, we spray painted the keep walls a textured faux-stone (Medium gray).
Inside and out.
Colton hand painted the portcullis a base black and then went over that with metallic silver.
It looks awesome.
See pictures below:

This weekend, we will paint the towers a slightly lighter gray and then if we feel they need it we might add faux-stone texture paint to them as well, but I do not think they will need it.
The buildings inside the keep will all be wooden in nature and will be stained or painted some shade of brown most likely.

I would not know a wood rasp if it jumped up and hit me on the side of the head.
From the name alone though, I suspect those are wood shaping tools.
And I suspect it would help to have one if I knew what to do with it. (Sighs)
I have been using sandpaper on some portions and we also have a small electric sander too and it has proven very useful for some things.
I have also used the Dremel for a few sanding spots, though not many. (Tight spots mostly)

First are two pictures showing the Support beam and the walkway board (examples)

Image


Once the glue is applied simply place the beam onto one edge of the walkway board and hold it there tightly for a few minutes to allow the glue to set a bit.
As a further precaution; I placed three spads along the top of the board through the board and beam to add more strength.
The spads may not have been needed, but I want this thing to last a few weeks.... and
some of those older minis are heavy, plus the youngest grandkids tent to be heavy handed about things.

One more note: As can be seen in the photo, I put a LOT of glue on these, and obviously some of that will leak out at the edges when I stick the pieces together.
I do not mind and glue is cheap, I simply wipe away the excess glue with a paper towel once the spads are in place and before mounting the walkway to the inside of the wall.
Remember to always measure and mark your lines, otherwise you may end up with a tilted walkway...... :oops:

Image

Two pictures of the outer walls and walkways painted with Textured Stone Paint from a spray paint can.
The paint can be found at Michaels (And likely most other craft stores) and even at Walmart.
Price per can is $7.50, and the stuff does not go far at all.

For those who plan to do this in the future:
I highly recommend pre-painting the walls with a similar color first, then spot spraying the Textured paint on after the pre-paint layer dries.
Otherwise plan to shell out more funds for more cans of Textured paint. :oops:
Sighs  :roll:  again........ Not saying any more on that topic.

Image

As you can see in the pictures, I need to go back over a few spots.
After that re-do is dried, I will then spray on a layer of Clear Coat as well, to add stability and perhaps longer life to the paint job. (hopefully)

Image

A good paint job can cover a LOT of mistakes.......... 8) ...
If done correctly; :oops:  8O   :lol:


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Post Posted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 9:58 am 
 

Very nice. You could use a nail to draw lines through the paint of the walls to make them look like building stones. (Wavy lines can look very good). It is a bit of work and if it was something you wanted to try you can use a bit of scrap wood to see how it would work and turn out. Then respray over the lines. (Don't know how much of the textured paint you used so it might be out of budget).

  

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Post Posted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 10:19 am 
 

Yes, that would be a good idea and we had actually thought of something along those lines too.

We had set the un-painted walls on a large peice of cardboard to protect the garage floor from being painted.
After the paint had dried overnight, I moved the walls inside the house and went back out to the garage and tried marking a sample with a long nail, hoping for a similar look as you described; but the paint simply came off in large sheets like a banana peel.
That made me change my mind.
The wood may act in a different way, and it could also be that the paint must set longer than that, but I think I will pass.


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Post Posted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 11:19 am 
 

Aneoth wrote:Yes, that would be a good idea and we had actually thought of something along those lines too.

We had set the un-painted walls on a large peice of cardboard to protect the garage floor from being painted.
After the paint had dried overnight, I moved the walls inside the house and went back out to the garage and tried marking a sample with a long nail, hoping for a similar look as you described; but the paint simply came off in large sheets like a banana peel.
That made me change my mind.
The wood may act in a different way, and it could also be that the paint must set longer than that, but I think I will pass.


Ah, combination of wood and the type of paint. More porous  wood, or an abraided surface.

You might be able to achieve something of the same effect with a black permanant marker, like a fine point sharpie.

  

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Post Posted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 11:29 am 
 

JasonZavoda wrote:Ah, combination of wood and the type of paint. More porous  wood, or an abraided surface.
You might be able to achieve something of the same effect with a black permanant marker, like a fine point sharpie.


Yes, the wood is Soft, Smoth, and very light, so it did not soak up the paint like many wood types would.
I think I will try your black marker idea on a portion of the interior wall that will (most of the time) be hidden by an interior removable building.


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Post Posted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 11:58 am 
 

Aneoth wrote:
Yes, the wood is Soft, Smoth, and very light, so it did not soak up the paint like many wood types would.
I think I will try your black marker idea on a portion of the interior wall that will (most of the time) be hidden by an interior removable building.


Try that piece which had the paint coming up in bannana peels if you kept it. (Make sure the paint is very dry)

  

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Post Posted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 12:07 pm 
 

Looks like a very fun project. By the way, happy birthday.


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Post Posted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 1:54 pm 
 

serleran wrote:Looks like a very fun project.
By the way, happy birthday.



OK, first of all, thanks for the HB Wishes, and second......
who told?

Here is a picture of Colton's work on the Portcullis.
I think he did well with this.
He first cut and cut a dowell and inserted the round short pieces inside the square areas for additional bars (Glued them into place).
(The holes were too large otherwise)
Then he painted it.
(See this item unpainted in several pictures above)
First he painted a coat with flat black as a base, then used metallic gray for the overcoat.
It looks real when placed in its holding slot at the front of the keep.

Image


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Post Posted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 1:59 pm 
 

OK, first of all, thanks for the HB Wishes, and second......
who told?


Sorry if I'm not supposed to know, but I found out from the C&C Society forums by listing "Members with a birthday today..."


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