Making Barb Wire Barriers


I have recently started constructing a number of barb wire barriers for a Bir Hakeim game I intend to organise.

The basic design is copied from pictures from the recently published Rapid Fire book on ‘Montys Desert Battles’

First, above is a list of the materials you will need. I also used some waterproof tile adhesive. This replaces the tetrion/sand/PVA mix I used in the past. This is because it does not require mixing, is quicker and is less messy. Also you need to be able to cut 4mm ply into a number of fixed sizes. If you have access to a small band saw to do this then great, otherwise a sharp Stanley knife maybe required. Lastly some medium viscosity superglue.

Starting from top left, sealing wire, acrylic paint, a pair of pliers, long nose pliers and snips, a large paint brush, a size one brush, flower arranging wire, pin vice and drill bit, tweezers, (or equivalent), 4mm ply cut to size and scalpel with a size 11 blade.

WARNING: remember glue thing stick and sharp things cut. If you cant be trusted to play with such things without hurting yourself get a responsible grown up to do it like an adult or your wife.

First make some preparations:


Cut an amount of the 4mm plywood to a standard size. I have used 6cm squares as a standard. The above length is 18cm by 6cm deep. Therefore all lengths or corners are based on a 6cm square grid provides a modular system which can be put together in a number of different ways.

Thats your base done, now the barb wire:


This is called sealing wire. It is used by the electricity board to security seal electrical boxes so that people cannot electrocute themselves and provide evidence that the box may have been tampered with. The reason it is perfect for small scale barb wire is because it is made of a central core of wire which has a smaller gauge of wire wound around the outside of it. From a distance this looks like barb wire.

The only problem is that is nice and shiney. Simply snip a length off and wind it gently into a coil. Drop it into a pot of white vinegar and leave it for a couple of days. It will dull a little bit. Take it out and let it dry on a piece of kitchen roll, overnight.

It will rust!

Next you need to make the upright stays that supports the wire.


This is the forming tool I use to make the barb wire supports quickly. It is a piece of 2″ x 2″ wood with ‘U’ shaped staples, that have been straightened out, using pliers, and hammmered into the wood. The staples are approximately 8mm apart, between centres. I have also marked two paralell lines at either end to show where to cut the wire off.

I use flower arranging wire, for the supports. I scrounged mine from a local flower shop. They had no need of them as they now use wire coated in green plastic, instead of bare metal. It was also already rusty!


Take a length of the wire and bend the end over into a ‘U’ shape. Note the end is roughly level with the scribed line on the wood.


Next loop the wire around the first pin. Pull the wire tight with the long nose pliers. Keep the loop flat by using the same pliers to push the first wire loop, downwards on either side of the pin.


Next loop the wire around the second pin. Pull the wire tight and push it down the pin as before.


Prise the support off the pin using the snips.


If the loops are still too big, hold the support in the middle with the long nosed pliers and pull one end gently until the loop is the size you want. Squeeze the support flat in the jaws of the long nosed pliers.


Here is the result.


When you have enough of the supports done, take the base board and score the surface to provide a key for the tile adhesive. Drill holes in the plywood and glue the supports in place.


Cover the surface, thinly, with tile adhesive and position any rocks as desired.


Scatter a layer of grit, liberally over the surface. The grit can be obtained from passing sharp sand through a sieve.


Lastly cover the remainder in sand, (whats left after sieving the grit from the sharp sand). After a while remove the excess. If the tile adhesive has become dry cover the tile adhesive in a layer of PVA glue, either way leave over night.


Paint the base in Windsor & Newton Galleria acrylic, yellow ochre, paint. Before it has dried drop thinned blobs of burnt umber in irregular patches and add water to spread. I have also used Vellejo Sepia game ink, greatly thinned! Allow to dry.


Dry brush with yellow ochre, then repeated dry brushed layers of yellow ochre with increasing amounts of white added. I have also used naples yellow to save a bit of time. The shade is indistinguishable from yellow ochre and white. Concentrate the lighter shades on the rocks. Eventually use a near neat white on the rocks to give a bleached look. This will leave the supports ochre in places. I repainted with a thin coat of vallejo 862 black grey.


Start to thread the sealing wire from one end to the other. I began with the ‘up and down’ lengths, which cross from one side to the other, as shown above. Try to loop and tighten the sealing wire around each loop of the supports. Remember that if there is not enough tension in the sealing wire it will not be straight and not look like barb wire but if it is too tight it will pull the previous support over.


Here is the final result. It does not matter if the supports are not perpendicular. Cut the spare ends off. The final rust colour can be either left self colour or, like I have, mix Vallejo 829 amarantha red and 929 light brown with water.


Here is the end result. I have cut down a tyre and oil drum to give a cluttered look.