How to Magnetize a Display Board for Miniatures

For the longest time I have been wanting to update my display board for my white scars and I finally got around to it. This was a multi-day project to take my old display board which was a basic dirt and grass to a magnetized mars style board.

For magnets, I recommend getting them at K&J Magnetics. Great prices and affordable shipping.

Adding Metal

So let’s dive in.

I started with my old board, layered some chopped up sheet metal, slathered in Elmer’s, and stuck it on the board. Then I stuffed layers of cork, also covered in glue, to sure up any big holes between the sheet metal and the board. This was to build up a base that magnets can stick too and gives us some interesting changes in texture and elevations.

Metal for the Board

After a good deal of drying time I moved on to the next step.

Smoothing it Out

Now we gotta smooth this sucker out and make it look a tad more natural. I used some spackling compound from a local hardware store to accomplish this. A putty knife can come in handy in this case.

After that dries, sand paper takes care of any awkward spackling, and really helps give a surface that has some promise.

Hiding the Metal

Then I added a few different types of sand and put down a black base coat.

Painting the Board

A few days later it was time to lay down the paint….well the pigment rather. I wanted a really earthy-mars, red planet look. So, I started with a redish brown pigment and thinned it with water to a think wash. I put down several coats of this to get a good base. I then started with a dry brush, and used progressively more redish orange pigments all over the board.

After this I sealed the board with varnish through an airbursh. I did this many, many, many, many times to get all the pigment locked down.

This was followed with violet pigment in the crevasses to really give some definition on the board.


All Completed

All finished. Below. With the army re-based and ready for action.


  • Man, that’s awesome. You continue to impress me with your ability to make very realistic textures for basing. Great job.

  • Wow…that is a nice board…whats the strength of the attachment (between the magnets and metal) with all the texture in place?

  • TheRhino

    Wow, that’s crazy good! What did you use as a sealer? Did it wash out the pigments at all?

    • Falconer

      I found liquitex satin varnish through an airbrush works well it has to be done from 2 feet away. I need to try some pigment fixer some day but this method doesn’t wash it out. Takes many coats and a good deal of time

  • Sheet metal? I bet that thing is heavy!

    • Warren is a big guy. Let him carry around a 50lb display tray ;)

  • That looks great! Does it keep the models secure?

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