Introduction: Modular Wooden Knights Castle
Runner Up in the
Wooden Toys Challenge 2016
This is a Modular wooden castle I made for my son for Christmas a few years back. It consisted of a gate house, with working drawbridge, 4 towers, walls and a wooden gantry way that goes all the way around. It's not really to scale but was made to fit the Schleich knights many of which I bought second hand on ebay.
The towers and walls fit together by means of a wooden dowel pegs that fit into corresponding holes.
Total size when put together is approximately 4 feet (1.21m) wide x 3 feet (0.91m) deep x 1.5 feet (0.46m) high.
The walls of the towers and gate house are made of 3mm (0.11 inch) thick plywood and the main walls are made of old off-cuts 15mm (0.6") board.
The parts that are supposed to look like stone were painted in mat battleship grey and then sprayed with a stone effect paint. Wooden parts like the flooring of the towers, gantry way and the draw bridge were painted with standard wood sealant that I had left lying around from painting my shed.
Step 1: 1) the Towers
1.1) The parts to make the sides of the towers were exactly the same size with 2 pieces requiring door ways and 2 pieces without doors but with arrow slits. In order to make the pieces the same I made drew a cardboard template and then using a circular saw I cut the 4 pieces of 3mm plywood out to roughly the right size.
1.2) Then I clamped the 4 pieces together with small C clamps, traced out the exact shape and then cut everything out with a hand held jigsaw. I finished the crenellations, doors etc off by hand with rasps, files, sandpaper and a Dremel tool.
1.3) The base of each tower is made with a square piece of 15mm board and the walls are glued & stapled together with small thin triangular strips of wood on the inner corners to support everything. For quick fixing I used Super glue (Crazy glue) because it sticks in seconds but I also used ordinary wood glue. I wasn't worried about using staples because I had already decided to use the stone textured paint that would cover up the staples.
1.4) The surrounds of the arrow slits and doors were also cut out of the same 3mm plywood and then glued around the door frames and arrow slit frames.
1.5) The wide crenellations at the top of the towers were cut from 15mm board. The lower rounded arches which are supposed to be "Murder holes" were made by drilling a row of round holes with my pillar drill and then the cut out by hand using a tenon saw. These pieces were then glued in place with wood glue.
1.6) The next task was to make the block work on the tower and for this I traced out the blocks and with pencil and then using a small round tip bit cut the grooves with the Dremel. These groves were about 1mm deep. This took quite a while. For the long straight horizontal lines I used a straight edge to rest my hand on and moved from left to right. Vertical lines I just cut freehand. Any imperfections were not an issue and made the "stones" look rougher.
1.7) The floors for the tower both mid level and top were square pieces of 3mm plywood painted with outdoor wood sealant. These were held in place with small strips of wood so the floors could just rest on them. The floors can easily be removed.
1.8) Before finishing I made the parts to connect the tower with the walls. This was a short 10cm (about 4") long square piece of wood that I cut in half. I lent drilled a hole into the centre of each end. See the attached sketch;
1.9) Finishing was done using an orbital sander with course grit pad and then smooth grit sand paper by hand at the end. Final finishing involved painting inside and out with battleship grey paint, leaving it to dry and then spraying with stone effect spray paint. Finally I sprayed the tower with a I initially made a single tower and then made the other 3 one after another, in exactly the same way as the first. I also added 2 flag poles on the towers at the front made out of a piece of dowling. The cap to the flag poles were turned from a piece of wood in the chuck of my pillar drill. I don't have a lathe. This actually worked quite well as the pieces are small.
Step 2: 2) the Gate House
2.1) This was essentially made the same way as the towers. I made a Template for the 4 walls out of cardboard and then cut the pieces at the same time. This time however the roof / upper floor was permanently fixed in place. The 4 small corner towers also have removable floors. the floor is also made of 15mm board and the walls are held together with the same triangular strips
2.2) The Drawbridge was made of strips of wood glued together in order to make it look authentic. I also used covered it in many small brass round head tacks that I found in the hardware store because they look good.
2.3) On top of the tower I made a working capstan that when turned raises the draw bridge through holes in the front wall. It has small chain and with careful adjustment it easily goes up and down so that the knights can go out and do battle.
2.4) Finishing of the gate house was completed in exactly the same way with the block work cut by hand using the Dremel, sanded with an orbital sander lightly and hand sanded with fine grit sandpaper to finish. The undercoat was ordinary battleship grey paint followed by a coat of stone effect spray paint and finally a coat of mat varnish. Also spray paint.
Step 3: 3) the Walls
3.1) The walls were made from pieces of 15mm wooden board and as with the towers had the block work cut by hand.
3.2) The walls were attached to the towers and the gatehouse by using the attachment system I have described above. This system works quite well because you slot the castle together easily and there is no need for screws and the walls can be taken apart easily. They can also be "knocked down" in the heat of battle. One tip if you decide to use this is to make sure you number the joints on the bottom so you can put the correct pieces together. It is almost impossible to make the connection pieces identical by hand and if you use the wrong section of wall it will be unlikely to fit. I marked each corresponding piece on the bottom using the Dremel so they can be matched easily. A with A, B with B etc.
3.3) Around the inside of the walls I made gantry ways so that the knights could man the battlements to do battle. These I made to look like wood because I ran out of time. To be more accurate it would have been better to have made them look like stone. I attached them to the walls with dowling pegs. Also at each section there is a ladder so that the knights can climb up to the battlements.
3.4) The flags are Scottish lions as this is a Highland fortress. These I made by finding the flags on the internet, modifying the pictures and printing them out on thick photo paper using my inkjet printer. Then they were cut out and glued onto the flag poles.
Step 4: 4) Total Build Time and Cost
This was not a quick build, though I did get faster as I progressed. I probably spent about 50+ hours building this mainly because I took the time to manually carve the blocks in all the walls. that was a time consuming a laborious business. I don't think I will do that again.
Cost wise I think it cost a little over 100 Euros or 120 dollars though a lot of that cost was the 4 cans of stone effect spray paint which were about 16 Euros a can. The ply wood was cheap and I already had most of the tools though I did buy a set of rounded bits for my Dremel to cut the blocks.
The plan was to expand the castle in due course, add a Great hall where the king and queen could hold court and other fun additions, but I have not had the time. This may have to wait till I have grand children. :-)
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