Laser-cut MDF Sabot Bases

 I'm a fan of basing my 15mm WWII infantry individually or in small teams on steel washers — I use magnetic sheet in a box for storage and transport, so the figures don't jostle against each other and knock all their paint off.

Individual basing gives you a lot of flexibility about figure placement on the wargames table, but especially in larger games it can be a real pain in the Gentleman's Personal Area to move them all around. That's where sabot basing comes to the fore, allowing me to move entire squads as one until it actually becomes important precisely where the individuals are placed.

 These sabot bases are designed specifically for German sections in the Battlegroup rules, consisting of two teams each: one seven-man element of riflemen, and one three-man element manning the section LMG. I mount the LMG teams as one single figure and another group of two on a larger washer; hence the difference in hole sizes in the LMG team sabot.

I designed the bases layout in CorelDraw, exported the file to SVG, and had the bases cut by Ponoko. They have a making workshop here in New Zealand, and it took about four or five days from submitting the design to receiving the sheet of MDF.

File submission was pretty straightforward, though I did have to make a change and re-submit it, because I initially forgot to set the SVG export file to convert all text to curves — I've used no text, but apparently it's important nonetheless.

This sheet is quite small, only 181x181mm, and it was not inexpensive. I thought it was pretty dear to start with, but it got worse. I had not noticed that even though I was ordering from a New Zealand address to a New Zealand-based workshop, all the pricing was in US dollars, nor that GST wasn't included, nor postage. This little sheet ended up costing me about $NZ50.00, which is far too much.

The image above shows one side of the cutting, the photo to the left shows the other — I don't know which is the entry or exit side for the laser beam.

This side, the dirtiest, is protected by a sheet of adhesive paper.
The paper peels away quite easily, and the protected surface is perfectly clean.

The edges, of course, are burned dark. For this particular purpose, that's advantageous, but that might not be true of other multi-piece construction projects.

I'll glue the MDF to thin card so that the figures don't just fall through, and add some paint and flock. I've used magnetic sheet underneath before, and though it does give the group a little more stability as I move them around, I don't think it's really worth the extra trouble; the figures don't tend to fall out all that often even without the slight magnetic attraction of the sheet.


I'm more than happy with the quality of Ponoko's work, and their service was pretty prompt and relatively trouble-free. However, the pricing is far beyond what I'm happy with, and I doubt that I'll do it again. Or at least, not until the costs get a lot more reasonable.

Click here for Part 2: The finished items

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