Hello Mr Chips

One of the big introductions with the second edition of Sharp Practice is our stocking Chips as an alternative to cards.  We looked far and wide to try to find a cost effective option and in the end etched MDF worked out to provide the best quality.  Of course, they do need a bit of preparation, so we thought we’d show you how we did our set on Lard Island.
Firstly, what makes MDF poker chips a good choice is that the design is very simple.  The chips have either a number or a flag on them and that’s it, so very easy to paint with no fiddly detail.  Here you can see the “naked” version.  I have included a tuppenny bit to show the size.  This coin is almost exactly 1″ across, so you can see that these come out at about 1.4 inches.  Roughly.
We began by undercoating ours with a grey car undercoat spray paint.  Make sure each side is dry before you turn it over and spray the other side.  I find that cardboard is a good surface to spray on as that does soak up any excess paint.
The next step was to use a broad, flat brush to paint the face with the detail white. A flat headed brush avoids getting paint into the engraved surface which then serves as a guide when painting.  This needs two coats.  You can see that the paint leaves a “grain”, the second brush should be at right angles to the first to ensure a nice flat finish with no streaks.
Next I painted the numbers and the flags.  Obviously one set in red, the other in blue.  The Tiffin chip and the blank chip I did in green, just to be different.
Once the central detail was done, I went round the rim in the same colour.
What I am not yet doing is painting the reverse or the edge of the chip.  I am letting these dry and then I will be spraying a protective coating onto them.  I want to get each side done completely before moving on.  Each stage in the process is pretty fast, I painted this lot in around and hour, but you MUST leave east stage to be completed and fully dry before moving on to the next stage.
I’ll keep you up to date as we progress onto the next stage.
Okay, back on the chips again.  I left the half painted chips for 24 hours to allow the paint to really cure.  What I have learnt with some recent decorating experience is that whilst paint may be touch dry, this is only on the surface.  You really need to be certain with this process that it has gone off.  Twenty-four hours seems wise to me.
I then sprayed the completed surface with this stuff.
This is actually the gloss varnish that I use on all figures before I finish them off with a matt spray.  It’s mean to provide a tough coating and whilst it’s not a tough as it makes out, it is better than standard modelling gloss.  For me, taking figures all over the UK and even Europe, this degree of protection seems wise.
Fortunately it was a very warm and sunny day yesterday so I let this dry in the sunshine for several hours before moving on to paint the other side.  Two coats as before, one in one direction, the other at right angles to it.
Once that was dry I went round the edges to finish them off.  Again I left these for 24 hours to dry before then spraying with the varnish.  And there you have it.  Here’s the finished chips with a smashing bag produced by our chums at Glenbrook Games (for a very modest sum they will make one for you too, see here http://mattsgamepage.blogspot.co.uk/)
One quick note.  As you can see, the Poker Chips do require a small amount of work.  If this looks too time consuming for you, or you just want to play straight “out of the box”, then the playing cards will be your best bet as they are a full colour, poker quality deck in a tuck box.  However, if you prefer chips I will say that the amount of work involved is minimal and that the end result is well worth it.


3 thoughts on “Hello Mr Chips”

  1. Nice work Rich.
    A good tip to get the edge nice and crisp (once both sides are done) is get a wide marker pen (black) and run it around the edge to clean up any paint overruns. It also provides a nice ‘shadow edge’ when seen on table.

  2. Or you could be like me and have too heavy a hand on the primer trigger and fill in some of the engraving right off the bat. Then have the paint too thin or too thick (I’m not sure which) or maybe too cheap a paint and have to do multiple coats. Sigh. 3 hours in and still working on the fronts but they ARE starting to look really nice. I shall persevere and it shall be glorious!

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