28mm Tavern Base Wargaming

Knock on wood – Tavern base Tutorial

After a good Dungeon raid all that loot needs to be invested wisely in drink, gambling and a good sleep. The best place to find those things and maybe even a new quest or some entertainment is the local tavern. Without the proper basing you can obviously not enter an upmarket tavern, so that is where this tutorial comes in handy.

What you need

The idea is to make a simple wooden tavern floor base with some nice details on it. I thought of some spilled drink and a stool.

We need the following materials:

  • plastic card
  • balsa wood
  • toothpicks with a bit of detail on one end (more about this later)
  • craft paint (brown, red, yellow, skin tone)
  • metallic paint
  • green stuff or other modelling clay
  • acrylic gloss medium
  • a pin
  • wood glue

Sharp implements come in handy, too. Best is a X-acto knife and a sculpting tool or a needle with a sharp tip.

How you make it

First we cut a square piece out of the plastic card in your preferred size. I use 3cm x 3cm as it matches my dungeon room tiles.

Figure out how long and wide you want the floor boards to be and cut the balsa wood to size. To give the wood a more natural appearance use the X-acto knife to make the corners of the wooden planks more irregular, as if an axe would have been used to shape them.


Now arrange your wooden planks on your work surface or on the plastic card and see if you need to trim them here and there or if it works out just fine.


Now glue them to the plastic card. I use some UHU all-purpose adhesive for this and I doubt I could get the wood of the base without ripping it apart. As you can see I had to add a narrow piece on the left to cover the whole base. I think it makes it look like a real segment of a floor, but if you like it more symmetrical you might just do the math and fill the square evenly.


While balsa wood has some wood grain to it, it does not come out that well if you drybrush it. You can use some wood stain to treat the balsa, but I never tried it and I don’t like the idea to have a whole pot of wood stain standing around not being used much. Instead I use the sculpting tool or a needle to carve in some grain myself.


Now its time to paint the wood with red-brown craft paint and highlight it with successive drybrushes. For red-brown I mix in small amounts of skin tone paint or yellow.

After the drybrushing
After the drybrushing

To bring out the wood grain a bit more you can now go in with GW Agrax Earthshade and increase the contrast. After that you can base your miniature and start adding details. I wanted to add a goblet with some wine spilling out of it on the floor.


I used a pin and cut it to size for the goblet handle and a small piece of green stuff for the bottom and the top part of the glass. After a basecoat in black, some Vallejo Gunmetal Grey and successive highlights with Oily Steel and Silver the goblet was ready to be glued on the base.


The spilled wine effect is made using Golden acrylic medium gloss. You just brush it on in the desired shape, let dry and paint it burgundy red. Now you add another layer of the medium. If you are satisfied with the thickness of the layer leave it at this or apply successive layers of medium.

So far, so good. To add even more interest to the base it is now time to add the stool. The stool is constructed using balsa wood and some toothpicks for the legs. I found those toothpicks in a 1 Dollar Japan store in Auckland, as they have some nice detail on one end, resembling a carved chair leg. If you look around in your area you should be able to find similar toothpicks.


The seat is a circle cut from Balsa wood, again structured with the carving tool. To assemble the chair I use a glue called Pacific Balsa Cement. It dries transparent and binds the parts much faster than PVA.

IMG_4120After assembly the chair gets some paint using a red-brown as a basecoat and successive highlights with mixed in yellow to differentiate it from the floor.

Now we just have to glue the stool on the base and beer, stew and song await in front of a crackling fireplace. Potentially also some tavern brawl if you tell the bard she sucks with the subtle hint of throwing your drink….

Never criticise a bard...
Never criticise a bard…

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6 thoughts on “Knock on wood – Tavern base Tutorial”

  1. What you could do is find an image online, print it out really small, shade it down with some ink, crease it up, pva it, let it dry…job done… I think..keep up the great work.


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