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Friday, September 23, 2011

Organising your hobby – The CNC Workshop Modular hobby station

Generally speaking, when it comes to being a wargaming hobbyist, there are stereotypically two types:  Those who work best in a clean, well organised environment and those who thrive in chaos.  On all my friends, I have possibly the most disorganised work spaces with models, paints, brushes etc all adding clutter to my desk.  It has gotten to a stage however where I fear for my models safety, as there have been instances where I’ve set down a model or a tool, turned my back for a moment and return to find the item missing and a list of painting demands left in its place.  Desperate to ensure the safety of my miniatures and tools, I’ve searched to find a way to organise my work area better.  Like a precision laser-cut Valkyrie swooping down to take a fallen warrior to Valhalla, CNC Workshop has granted new life to my hobby area, helping me create something that is not only organised but relatively portable too.  But I get ahead of myself here; perhaps I should start at the beginning.

For those who don’t know, CNC Workshop is a company who specialises in designing and creating tabletop wargaming accessories using precision machined MDF.  Their products page is broken up into a number of different series, producing everything from scatter terrain bases to even gaming tables themselves.  One of my personal favourites is the Bunkers series which also includes awesome $26 Drop-pod equivalents.  For many years now I’ve been meaning to buy a couple of their kits to see what they’re like, but I’d never gotten around to it - Too much money being diverted into supporting my plastic crack habit and buying Black Library books.  Luckily however, I found a couple of them going to quite reasonable rates on the WestGamer forum and gleefully picked up the Tool-Rack and Parts Rack; both of which are part of the Painting Accessories Series.  What follows below is my musings on the kits themselves and why I think they are worth investigating.

The first thing you notice is that the entire kit comes in a very IKEA-esque flat-pack, with all the components securely attached to a MDF sprue looking reminiscent of a GW kit.  Using a combination of clippers, Stanley knife and sandpaper, you are then required to carefully remove and clean all the components in preparation for assembly using PVA glue.  Thankfully all the instructions are included inside the pack using easy to follow diagrams and not a badly-translated sentence in sight. 

It is at this point that I would strongly recommend NOT cutting everything off at once.  It’s very easy to get things mixed up and / or lost, particularly when some of the components are quite small.  It’s at this point where I think it would be beneficial for all the items to be numbered in some fashion so those who are even less carpentry-savvy than I can follow the instructions.  The whole project is broken down into several sub-assemblies; making it easier to progressively get everything ready for the final build.  For the most part, the assembly stage wasn’t difficult, merely time consuming.  I strongly recommend having tape or rubber bands close at hand so that you can secure areas that aren’t sitting properly while the PVA glue dries.

Overall, the items are well calculated and you get a pretty good bang for your buck.  The designers have planned out the sprues perfectly so there is very little wasted space anywhere to be found.  Truth be told, I had a bit of trouble clipping things off at one stage.  The other great thing is that there are compartments for everything – paint brushes, files, rulers, clippers and even a pack of tissues!  The other great thing is that each kit is designed to be modular, allowing you to clip them together in as many configurations as you can think of.  Apart from the numbering issue I mentioned above the only other problem I’ve found is the cleaning up afterwards is a chore as there are MDF shavings / off cuts everywhere.  These kits are well put together and some may freak at the price (from $20 - $40 AUS a unit), you pay almost that much for a GW plastic hero miniature these days (at least here in Aus).  Besides, considering the time saved looking for lost tools and transporting hobby gear between locations, you’re almost earning money.  Give the CNC Workshop a go and see what you think.  If nothing else, it may spark some ideas for designing your own portable hobby station. 

Catch you all later


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