A cheap bunker/pillbox

During a recent visit to a local craft shop I saw some ready-made balsa wood/basswood hexagonal boxes on sale for £1.25. I had previously bought some slightly smaller versions with the intention of using them as the basis for some nineteenth century fortifications, but the larger ones looked ideal subjects for conversion into concrete bunkers or pillboxes that I could use with my 20mm-scale figures. I bought two of the boxes, and over the past few days I have been converting them.

The first thing I did was to remove the hinges that held the top and bottom halves of the box together.

I then set the tops of the boxes to one side and marked the position of the weapon slits on each face of the lower half of the box.

I carefully made vertical cut in each face of the box down to the line I had drawn around each box. I then used a craft knife to gently cut along the line between the two cuts on each face of the box. The thin gap that was created allowed then me to use the tip of the knife to gently prise out the wood between the vertical cuts. Once that was down each of the ‘slits’ in the faces of the hexagon was tidied up and sanded.

As I wanted to use the tops of the boxes to form the roofs of the bunkers/pillboxes I needed to make sure that they would not fall off during a wargame. I therefore glued pieces of matchstick in the corner of the bottom halves of each box, making sure that the pieces of matchstick projected slightly above the top of the box sides.

Once the glue was dry I checked that the tops of the boxes fitted snugly onto the bottoms. I then sealed the wood using two coats of PVA glue, making sure that first coat was properly dry before the next was added.

The bunkers/pillboxes were then undercoated before being painted light grey.

18 Comments on “A cheap bunker/pillbox”

  1. Jim Duncan says:

    A fixed or free roof is dependent on the need to place figures inside.

    Nice conversation though!

  2. Jim Duncan,

    When I started the conversion I wanted to be able to put figures inside the bunkers/pillboxes … but on reflection I realised that I didn't need to.

    All the best,


  3. Stu Rat says:

    I see those boxes all the time-never even thought of doing something like that.

    If I ever try this, I'll be sure to blame the resulting mess on you.

  4. Pete. says:

    Really clever work Bob.



  5. Stu Rat,

    I have used the cardboard version of these boxes as pillboxes in wargames in the past, but never thought of using the wooden ones until I saw them on sale in the craft shop.

    Good luck with your own attempts!

    All the best,


  6. Pete.,

    Thanks. It was one of those simple ideas that seem so obvious afterwards.

    All the best,


  7. Fitz-Badger says:

    Simple, but effective.
    Do they fit well on your hex terrain? (If I remember correctly, I think you have at least a couple of different kinds/sizes of hex terrain?)

  8. Fitz-Badger,

    As you comment, a simple but effective idea.

    These hexagonal boxes come in different sizes. The ones that I used for these bunkers/pillboxes easily fit inside my Hexon II hexes but are too large for use with my Heroscape hexes.

    All the best,


  9. Nigel Drury says:

    Bob,what sizes do these come in? Cut in half they could be useful for building Vauban type bastions.

  10. Nigel Drury,

    The hexagonal boxes come in different sizes. I bought mine in the craft section of the branch of The Range at Chatham Maritime.

    All the best,


  11. Nigel Drury says:

    If you're at Chatham Maritime there is a model shop nearby next to the car park for the Historic Dockyard.

  12. Nigel Drury,

    It is on my list of places to visit the next time I am in Chatham.

    All the best,


  13. Eric the Shed,

    Thanks very much for your kind comment. I hope to make some more in the very near future.

    All the best,


  14. Peter Ball says:

    Very nice work, that. Splendid idea!

  15. Peter Ball,

    I hope to buy some more of the boxes this week so that I can make some more bunkers/pillboxes.

    All the best,


  16. Steven says:

    This is a terrific idea! Thank you for sharing. Headed to the local craft store next…

  17. Steven,

    I am glad that you found it useful … and I hope to buy and convert some more of these boxes myself later this week.

    All the best,


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