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LotR Wiki

Terrain/Natural/Wood Chips

Edit this page (last edited May 23, 2005)

Wood Chips

This article describes how to use average garden wood chips to make realistic looking rocks.

  • Wood Chips
  • Introduction
  • Materials List
  • Prepping The Land
  • Layout The Chips
  • Cut & Glue
  • Painting Techniques
  • Conclusion
  • Comments
  • Introduction

    While Lot R can be played on a simple, flat table, it's always best to have realistic looking terrain to put on your board. It helps greatly to use terrain, both strategically and simply to immerse one in the escapism of the game. This article will show how to make rocky terrain using wood chips typically found in gardens.

    Materials List

    The following is a list of the materials needed to work through this article:
    • wood chips (see below)
    • portion of styrofoam
    • styrofoam cutter
    • pen or pencil
    • sand and small pebbles
    • Glue (one of the following):
      • PVA
      • Wood
      • White
      • Elmer’s
      • etc.
    • Earth-toned paints (blacks and browns)

    Wood chips are typically used in landscape projects, to give a more natural appearance to one's yard or garden. You can buy a bag of them at any home improvement store such as Home Depot (here's a listing of the item online). Or, if you're like me and are real cheap, just take a walk around your neighboorhood and look at the front yards of your neighbors. See wood chips? Grab a couple. You only need about 3 to 5 per small piece of terrain.

    Wood chips will make very realistic looking rocks.

    Prepping The Land

    Although you could just string out these chips randomly and by themselves, it's best to embedd them into a small piece of styrofoam and properly paint the set to look the most realistic.

    Using the styrofoam cutter, cut out a hillshape with gentle slopes. The shallower the grade, the better. Keep in mind that miniatures will need to be place on these hills. Optionally, if the styrofoam gets too thin and needs more support, trace the styrofoam onto a thin piece of hardwood and cut it out. Glue the newly shaped hill onto the board and it will last a long while.

    Another project I'm working on, a pond embedded in styrofoam. I will be inserting some woodchips in this corner to look like rocks jutting out. This styrofoam is already cut, sloped, and glued to a wood base.

    Layout The Chips

    Now, with the land ready, take a few of the woodchips and lay them out on the styrofoam. We will be embedding this chips into the foam itself, so it will appear as though the rock is only partially showing (the other part deep in the ground). After you have a good idea of which woodchips to use, using a pen or pencil, draw an outline of the chips on the styrofoam. You can also push the woodchips in, making an impression in the foam.

    Draw an outline of the woodchips on the styrofoam.

    Cut & Glue

    Using your hobby knife, dig a hole into the styrofoam following the shape of your outline. It doesn't have to be perfect, you're going to wedge the woodchip in anyways and fill it with filler later, we just want to make a good, snug hole for the woodchip to rest in, embedded into the ground.

    Cut out of the foam where the chip is going to lie.

    With the shape cut out, we're ready to glue the chip in. Fill the hole with white glue, as well as put some glue on the woodchip itself, and then shove the chip(s) into the foam.

    Put glue into the hole.

    Push the chip in. Make sure it goes in well, you may have to push hard.

    After the chip itself is in, you may want to put some filler sand around the rock. Simply apply some glue to the styrofoam all around the chip, and then sprinkle on some sand.

    The wood chip is drying, ready for sand and painting.

    Painting Techniques


    Another shot of the landscape piece I was working on, has two areas for woodchips.

    - Shnar Gru


    Feel free to enter any comments here:
    where do u get the polestyrene from?
    Perhaps we should do a general materials article, but I get my foam from Home Depot, a local home improvement/do-it-yourself shop. Lowe's is another one you can find it. The best foam to get is known as home-insulation foam, it's the densest and can be cut directly with a knife (as opposed to a hot-wire cutter), and even sanded. And at the DYI stores, it's incredibly cheap. About $8 for a 8ft x 4ft section, enough to last for a long while.

    -Shnar Gru

    I live in australia and ive never heard of these places and was wondering if any fellow ozzies knew where to buy good cheap thick foam?

    -Uruk-Hai Hunter

    Try Bunnings Warehouse. They're all over Australia and they've got EVERYTHIHNG. I buy paint from there as well (Dulux sample pots come in ANY SHADE in their colour rage). I don't use the paint on models, but it's really good to colour match for scenery.

    - JonoTheCommo?

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