DIY: Razorwire

Because of popular demand, our first how-to article will describe in detail how we make the razorwire found in many of our terrain pieces.

First, the list of materials you will need:

  • Standard, plastic-coated fiberglass insect-screen, found by the roll at any hardware store. (Or possibly free from the rescreener’s scrap bin in you ask nicely!)
  • Cyanoacrylate glue (Super glue) and preferably an accelerator such as Insta-set.
  • A hobby knife or pair of sharp scissors.
  • Black primer
  • Silver paint
  • a toothpick or small stick
  • A model to attach your razorwire to

 

We frequently combine our razorwire with obstacles such as tank-trap style barriers. For this example I will be using 1/8″ Plastruct H-channel to make my tank-traps. These would serve to reinforce the wire and keep vehicles from plowing through your barricades.

Here are my primary ingredients, with a section of crumbling wall and chain-link fence I made previously, ready to have some razorwire to be strung across that gap in the middle.

The first step is to cut your  insect screen. The key is to cut cleanly and evenly between two strands, making a single strand with small “barbs” sticking out either side. Longer is better because much of the length will be curled up, so try to cut a piece at least 3 times longer than the area you will cover.

Prime your strands with flat-black spray primer. I prefer Rustolium primers for many of my projects but just about any brand of spray-primer should work. The best technique for priming? Hold one end of the strand as you spray.

Then after your primer has dried, apply your silver paint. The best way to do this is by dipping your brush in paint, then pull your strand through the bristles. Some black patches or dark areas between barbs should be preserved for a more natural look.

While your silver paint dries, you can work on your tank traps! Here I’m cutting 1 1/2 inch pieces from the rod. You will need 3 pieces per trap.

After assembling, prime your traps black, then apply a patchy wash of a dark rust color (such as Vallejo Dark Rust) and when that’s dry, drybrush boltgun metal/gunmetal mixed with black over the whole trap. For realism, I rarely highlight past this point, but for a newer, shinier looking tank trap, you could highlight some of the edges with silver.

With your tank traps glued in place, and your razorwire painted, it’s time to lay it down. I like to put a couple drops of Cyano glue onto a scrap of plastic, and apply it to my model with a toothpick for greater control and to minimize excess drips of glue.

Glue one end of your strand to your starting point use accelerator to bind instantly.  Do a slight tug to test if secured and with a toothpick coat a thin layer of superglue on wire then wrap it around one end of a tank trap.

Because razorwire pulls off a roll fairly evenly, you will want to pull out any twists or tangles from your strand before you start curling it in loops.

Decide on the general direction of your curls and glue the bottom of the first loop in place.

Slight irregularity of placement and loop size will give a more natural look. Continue gluing your loops in place, gluing the bottom of each loop to the ground. Sometimes you may need to glue parts of the strand to taller features as you go to maintain a good shape. This is where accelerator will help speed things up again.

Once you reach the end, you can trim off the excess, or keep going. The final look is entirely up to you!

At this point you can decide to weather your razorwire a little. Even though it would normally be galvanized in reality, eventually even galvanization will wear off, and  it looks much more visually interesting if you tone down the shine.

I used a black paint wash over most of the strand, darker on the underside of the loops to enhance the shading. Then a little Dark Rust drybrushed, particularly on the areas closest to the ground. If you wanted to make your razorwire look very old and worn out, you would basecoat it entirely with Dark Rust, then drybrush gunmetal/black lightly over the strand, then apply shading.

That’s it! A simple and effective technique. There are companies out there that sell brass-etched sheets of razorwire, but besides being expensive, they have the unfortunate side effect of behaving like real razorwire, that is to say, they are razor sharp.

I hope this guide helps. Feel free to share your own tips and ideas!

Comments

  1. Rich says:

    Had some floral picks laying around so I made some tank traps out of those. The wire mesh works great, though I bought some that was more diamond shaped instead of square and didn’t realize it until later so I made it work. Thanks for the cool tutorials

    Here’s a picture of mine on a modular game board I’m working on.
    http://img839.imageshack.us/img839/3818/2sr4.jpg

    • 3T Runtherder says:

      Great job Rich! Thank you so much for sharing a picture, I always love to see others inspired and making terrain and great pieces like yours. Stick around to see more guides and tips in the future.

  2. colin says:

    Nice… i’ve been looking for a good way to do this!

  3. Sandro says:

    what kind of rod are you using for the tank traps? and where can you get it? : ) it looks awesome

    • 3T Runtherder says:

      Evergreen and Plastruct make styrene rods in various shapes and sizes, check your local hobby shop and throw a fit if they don’t carry any! (You can also order online.)

  4. klyddkross says:

    …It is I, from the forgotten realm, masters of the dark faith… uh,.. I would like to buy some, uh, razorwire…

  5. HadoukenAvenger says:

    Could I ask what thw chain-link fence is made from?

  6. HadoukenAvenger says:

    …haven’t quite grasped the ‘reply’ function yet :D

  7. HadoukenAvenger says:

    Please, I was a fool! I don’t need any other hobby blogs! TAKE ME BACK.

  8. HadoukenAvenger says:

    Great Scott, guys. 3T is looking absolutely FABULOUS. I just love what you’ve done with the place! I can safely say I’ll be around for tea and crumpets more often.

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