Sunday, 3 November 2013

Simple Sandbags for Cool Cover

We have been having fun making sandbags for our troops.  There are lots of ways to make sandbags for miniatures but we are big fans of cost effective and simple solutions. We think you will find that this is a simple way to make great looking terrain for your models.

The equipment:

Very fancy equipment
PVA Wood glue - we bought a 4 litre container which we use for almost everything.  It washes out in water, is non toxic, is cheap and can cover areas well.
Cheap modelling clay - ours cost just $10.99 for a 2kg bag from one of those discount stores.  It's bound to be cheaper in the US.
Blunt knife - raid the kitchen drawer while Mum isn't looking.  Don't get the good knife.
Cheap Paintbrush - this is to paint on the PVA glue. Precision isn't the key so a basic brush from the same discount store is fine.

The not so tricky steps:

Step 1: Make a roll of clay

Just roll it on your cutting board or table
Cut out a small piece of the clay and roll it into a cylinder about 5mm (1/4 inch) diameter.

Step 2: Flatten the roll slightly

Flatten it with that knife you pilfered
Flatten the cylinder so it has a flat top and slightly rounded edges.

Step 3: Make the sandbags

Press down with the blunt edge of the knife
Press down with the blunt edge along the cylinder at about 10mm intervals (or 1/2 inch if you use those odd measurements).  Precision is not necessary - near enough is good enough.  The reason we press down rather than cut is this forces the cylinder to have flat corners - just like a sandbag.

Step 4: Finger mould each sandbag

Your thumb and fingers are just the right shape
Use your thumb and fingers to smooth out the edges.  Then start placing them down on the surface you want the sandbags to go.  If you are placing them on a vehicle or other surface you will need to use the PVA glue.

Step 5: Glue the next layer

Paint on the PVA glue
If you want the sandbags to stay where you put them, liberally use the PVA glue before placing them down.  You can see the first row in the background.  At this point the sandbags are still soft and pliable.  Feel free to push them into spots, make then not quite straight or partly fallen over.  Whatever looks good to you.

Step 6: Check the height

Is this high enough, little dude?
There is no hard and fast rule for how high the sandbag wall should be.  Just get one of your dudes and place him next to the wall to check the height.  In our case, it wasn't quite enough. Another row it is.

Step 7: Get more dudes and see if they're happy.

Sandbags worth fighting behind
Step back and look to see if the wall looks about right. Now the hard part is you need to allow 24 hours for the clay to dry.  Then you can start painting.  The clay has some minor shrinkage, but it doesn't affect the sandbags enough to be a concern.


We have had fun placing sandbags in buildings, around gun bases and even on tanks.  We'll put up some photos of painted guys later.
Added Bonus:  Press a Tea towel (not your Mum's best one) onto the sandbags (before they dry) to get an appropriate cloth look to the bags. (Hat Tip to the Bolt Action Australia/New Zealand Facebook group)
More than a ruined house
Tanks for the Sandbags
Australians enjoyed the added defence now painting is done
Update: Now the sandbags are painted and looking very fine indeed.  If you zoom in you can see we have even made some sand oozing out of the misplaced sandbag.


  1. This is awesome and I am going to try this out.

  2. Very well done. Absolutely brilliant information. I'm in love with this blog. they always provide such a great information.wheel chocks



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