In deciding to make my own I started searching the web for ideas. I could make table sections (and still may for specific terrain/games in the future) but it is limiting in the terrain you have to game on so I went with the modular style.
The next decision was what to make it out of. I looked at making masters and molds and mass producing them in plaster. Nice and heavy so they don’t move but if dropped…
I then looked at something out of clay or wood. Lots of work and the wood can not be shaped as easily. I decided on foam, which I had a large stock of at the time.
The foam is light and I was afraid it would move on the table but with it laid out it is fine and you can drop it without any issues. It is delicate to work with but can be shaped easily. I started out with right and left angles, straights, T’s and some angled sections.
I marked the foam and then cut the sections. For cutting I went with my table saw. A little dangerous and I will caution those considering this. BE VERY CAREFUL! It does give nice straight cuts and makes all the trenches the same depth. It is also much faster than by hand.
Once I made the cuts I molded or mushed the sections by hand, removing the straight angular look. I then painted them with craft paint and sprinkled with some fine sand to give a little more texture. Add some detail – sand bags, wood, tin sheets, etc. I did not model them like a display; these are for gaming so not to much clutter. The last step is a coat of wood glue. This gives it a nice hard shell and also some highlights.
Hope this is helpful and inspires you to make your own trenches. As I posted before, what is a WWI gamer without trenches?