Tutorials

D.I.Y. barbed wire

Posted by Phersu on 13 Mar 2010, 20:35

D.I.Y. BARBED WIRE

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There are many different ways to make barbed wire for dioramas and war-game sceneries.
I't's necessary to reach a compromise between look and realistic dimensions. A perfect barbed wire in 1/72 scale would be very tiny and nearly impossible to do.

Recently I discovered a quick and simply way using a mosquito net. The outcome has good detailing and is not too far from the right proportions.
It's not a real new thing, but rather a variation of well-known technique used in war-games scenery, mostly with figures bigger than 20 or 25 millimeters.

I tried it for the first time and perhaps there are more tricks and better variations, but my first attempt came out so good that I think is worth a tutorial.

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Furthermore, another variation of this technique can be used to make the typical "greek frieze" (if I translate correctly, sorry for my poor English), I mean the squared zig-zag decorations, very useful for different purposes and nice looking on ancient buildings. You can easily imagine how to use the net for such purpose, probably this idea is worth another tutorial.

MAKING THE BARBED WIRE

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We start by cutting a strip of mosquito net, leaving just little bits of the meshwork protruding on both sides.

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Eventually it could be necessary to cut some of the protruding bits shorter if they are too long.

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In this way we already get good-looking barbed wire; the small size fits well enough with 1/72 scenery.

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With further accurate work we can cut and shape the thorns to be pointed instead of leaving them flat, in this case it is better to cut the initial strip with longer protruding bits.

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Such enhancement takes a longer time and more precision. You need a very good cutter (I use scalpels), as well as good eyes or magnifying lenses and a steady hand. (…and much pedantry ;-).

It depends on how much detailing you want, and how much barbed wire you need too; it's up to you to choose the extra detailing is worth or not.
Anyway when you find the right way to slide the strip on the cutting board, keeping it flat under you fingers, the job becomes quite easy.
I managed to cut these pointed thorns on both sides of nearly 50 centimeters of wire (19 inches) in less than 15 minutes.

This is the difference between the basic and the enhanced versions, rough unpainted.

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At this point I painted the barbed wire (acrylic dark metal paint) before going further ahead, but you can leave it rough too and paint everything at the end.

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On the two different painted wires we can see already that the difference is evident only if you look closely.

SHAPING THE BARBED WIRE

If we just cut the net strip our barbed wire will be lying flat and straight, so we need to shape it in spirals or entangle it; there are different ways to do it.
In this case I twisted the wire on itself first and rolled it around a pole afterwards, like usually done using metal wires or electric cables.
Also, it's necessary to heat and cool the plastic strip while rolled around the pole to keep it in the right shape, otherwise it can uncoil and return to its original flat shape once released from the pole.

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First, I clamp the strip on a paintbrush handle. Paintbrushhes are particularly good for this purpose because they are very smooth and slightly thicker in the middle, and this will simplify the releasing of the spiral at the end.

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Then I twist the strip on itself before rolling it around the pole, this to avoid that the thorns come out all perfectly aligned (but unfortunately the final outcome was not so good despite my attempt this time…)

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At this point I rolled the strip around the paintbrush pole like a spiral.

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Finally I also clamped the other end of the strip.
The strip shouldn't be rolled tight, eventually it's better to loosen it a bit all along (after clamping both sides to avoid unrolling).

Now we have to heat and cool the plastic to give it the shape.
There are different ways to do it, the plastic softens with the heat, and cooling it afterwards will harden it again, keeping the shape.

I used a hairdryer to heat the wire, but you can also use the radiator's heat, hot or boiling water, and even a flame.
It's important that the plastic heats well but it shouldn't melt on the surface.

It doesn't take much to cool the strip either, due it's thinness. I just put it outside the window for a few minutes on a cold day. Otherwise in the fridge, or under cold water (if unpainted or not water based painted anyway).

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Now we can remove our barbed wire from the paintbrush. To get an entangled wire you can simply unroll it, it will have lost it's linearity.
For a spiral shaped barbed wire, more care and attention are necessary during the release to keep the shape.

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Sometimes the wire may get attached to the pole, if the plastic has been heated too much or if it was painted and the paint got stuck to the pole.
In this case we have to separate it gently pushing up and down, all the way along the handle, or little bits at a time using a round smooth tool if necessary.

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Is not always easy to keep the spiral shape while releasing the wire from the pole. The same thing applies to the random alignment of the thorns mentioned before.

Plastic is elastic and tends to unroll and to return to it's previous shape. It is not so easy like making a spiral with metal wire or electric cable wires. A steady shaping depends on the kind of plastic and our "thermoforming" process (heat and cool shaping).

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Anyway, in difficult cases and with patience, tweezers, and some glue, you can place a good regular spiral without unrolling or entanglements.
You just have to glue the spirals on your base one at time while releasing them from the pole, instead of releasing the whole spiral all at once.

Sure, other kind of nets can be used, maybe even smaller ones like the "tulle" of bridal veils. This would be a most accurate work but the results would be very close to the actual 1/72 size.

Anyway any net you mean to use must be easy to cut, and the meshwork has to be well fixed or welded; if it's simply braided obviously it will not work.

WARNING!
Perhaps this is pointless and obvious, but it's always wise to remember to be careful when using cutters or scalpels, flames, or anything that could hurt.

Slightly edited by DBIO, who liked this tutorial so much he couldn't resist ;-) I hope you don't mind phersu!
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Phersu  Italy
 
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Posted by west1871 on 13 Mar 2010, 20:43

Brilliantly simple :thumbup: :thumbup:
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west1871  United Kingdom

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Posted by Paul on 13 Mar 2010, 20:51

west1871 wrote:Brilliantly simple :thumbup: :thumbup:


Agreed, brilliant :thumbup: :thumbup:
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Paul  China

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Posted by monty on 13 Mar 2010, 20:53

Paul wrote:
west1871 wrote:Brilliantly simple :thumbup: :thumbup:


Agreed, brilliant :thumbup: :thumbup:


i too agree :thumbup: :love:
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monty  United Kingdom
 
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Posted by Helveticum on 13 Mar 2010, 20:55

Geniale!!!!....come sempre.. :-D

For those who doesn't understand this BEAUTIFUL language:... :mrgreen:

Brilliant!!!.....as usual... :-D
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Helveticum  Switzerland
 
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Posted by Peter on 13 Mar 2010, 21:39

Thank you for sharing this with us :thumbup:

@Paul: read the warning! :mrgreen:
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Peter  Belgium

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Posted by musketier on 13 Mar 2010, 22:19

very nice very clear and Thanks for posting :thumbup:
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Posted by Dad's Army on 13 Mar 2010, 22:32

Superb :love:
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Dad's Army  Netherlands

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Posted by Old Wolf on 14 Mar 2010, 08:48

:thumbup: thx for this fantastic tutorial :thumbup:
thats the way i will try :scratch: after i found out where i can buy a moscito net :?

Andreas
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Old Wolf  Germany
 
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Posted by monty on 14 Mar 2010, 08:49

great tutorial thanks for posting :thumbup:
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monty  United Kingdom
 
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Posted by Valion on 14 Mar 2010, 10:28

Brilliant work !
Thank you !
:mrgreen:

Marc
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Valion  Germany
 
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Posted by Nono on 14 Mar 2010, 10:42

Valion wrote:Brilliant work !
Thank you !
:mrgreen:

Marc
+1 :thumbup:
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Nono  France
 
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Posted by Mai Strac on 14 Mar 2010, 11:56

Thank's Maestro! :thumbup:
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Mai Strac  Italy
 
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Posted by KenzoSato on 14 Mar 2010, 22:58

:thumbup: tank's Phersu
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Posted by Susofrick on 15 Mar 2010, 08:34

Great! :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
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Posted by dutchboyinohio on 15 Mar 2010, 16:27

Who'd have thought that something so simple would come out looking so good!! :thumbup:
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dutchboyinohio  United States of America

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