Help support TMP

"Making a hex template" Topic

19 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

Please don't make fun of others' membernames.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Wargaming in General Message Board

Areas of Interest


Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Link

Featured Showcase Article

Elmer's Xtreme School Glue Stick

Is there finally a gluestick worth buying for paper modelers?

Featured Workbench Article

3Dprinting Markers

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian wonders if he can use his 3Dprinter to make markers.

Featured Profile Article

Cheap Wood Trays

Useful for dice trays or carrying painting supplies around.

Current Poll

5,464 hits since 18 Aug 2010
©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

TMP logo


Please sign in to your membership account, or, if you are not yet a member, please sign up for your free membership account.
Andy Skinner Supporting Member of TMP19 Aug 2010 6:00 a.m. PST

I was going to buy a hex mat or two, and decided I needed to not spend the money. I'm going to add hexes (either outlines or center dots) to some of the mats I have. I think I can do it cheaply.

For the template, go here: link and select the Hexagonal generator. You can specify the size of the hex (length of one side edge), so put in S/(2*cos(30 degrees)), where S is the desired distance across your hex from side to side. I wanted 4" hexes, so put in 2.3094. I specified printing in black, and asked for 24" x 36". You get a PDF file you can save. I wish I had specified showing the center dot, since I'm using that, too. I recommend adding the dot.

Then go to and look at how to specify a print/copy job online. I chose Engineering Documents or something like that, and uploaded the PDF file. Ask for same size as the graph paper PDF you requested (it says it is a Blueprint, but is on regular paper), and specify to not scale to fit.

Mine, 4" hexes at 24" x 36", cost $2.99 USD plus tax, and the measurements seem exact.

What I did (don't do this) was poke holes at the vertices, and use a ruler to find the center (again, add the dot at the graph paper generator page) and poke holes there, too. Then I'm using the paper as a template.

What I should have done was get a cheap poster frame (I got one from Walmart for $10, but we once found one there for less than $5--my daughter said it was $2, but I find that hard to believe). Then lay the print-out on a table, put the plastic from the poster frame on top, and mark the vertices and/or centers on the plastic. Then drill the holes you want. Then it will be much easier to line up your template with previous passes. I mis-aligned mine last night, using the paper as a template, and wish I'd gone this route. I bought the $10 USD frame this morning, and will continue from there.

So for on the order of $13, I'll have a large clear template for 4" hexes, with holes for corners and centers. If I had found another super cheap frame (though $10 USD isn't bad), it could be less.

I've been experimenting with how to mark it. I use a Sharpie to mark each corner, then remove the template and draw the lines by hand. I started with a ruler, but the corners being marked means doing it by hand is fine. I tried an old felt marker for the lines, and I liked it because it came out gray. But it was drying out as I went, so I switched to the Sharpie, which was probably too pronounced. I tried marking only part of the line, and that was better, but now I'm just putting a single dot in the middle of each hex side. That seems to show the hex sufficiently. My cloth looks funny, with different styles different places, but I didn't mind experimenting. It is going far faster than when I did 1.5" hexes a long time ago.

The main idea here is using that graph-generator program for the PDF, printing that on large paper at Staples, and (still to be tried) transferring the dots to the plastic for the template.


Allen5719 Aug 2010 6:14 a.m. PST

Hi Andy,

Like your idea for making a stencil with multiple hexes on the sheet but if you want a template for one hex at a time I bought this one at Jo-Ann fabrics in the quilting section.


It allows me to make multiple sizes of hexes.

Gonna try the print route you have shown to make a big inexpensive stencil since one hex at a time is a bit tedious.


leidang19 Aug 2010 6:57 a.m. PST

I made mine using a hex from the settlers of catan game and a sharpie. Quite a bit of work and you have to be careful to keep everything lined up but it didn't cost me a thing other than time and the fabric.

Andy Skinner Supporting Member of TMP19 Aug 2010 7:27 a.m. PST

I don't think I could get a single hex at a time to work out right over the whole mat. This one lets me mark a lot of corners at a time, so is fast. And being able to align a lot of hexes along the edges (it will be so much easier once I've made the plastic template, instead of using the paper directly as I did so far), I think I'll be able to keep the hexes straighter.

And of course I can get exactly the hex size I want. What made this interesting is that the generated PDF printed to exactly the intended size.

Speed and cheapness are the goal for me.

On my main grass mat, I think I'll just mark the centers, to make the hexes less prominent.


Kelly Armstrong19 Aug 2010 8:04 a.m. PST

you can also use pegboard as a template for laying out a hex pattern. You can't adjust hex size, but on uniformly spaced pegboard, there is a repeatable hex pattern.

Forager19 Aug 2010 8:17 a.m. PST

Another option for the plastic template would be to get a piece of clear plastic that comes on a roll from Wal-mart or a fabric store. I think it is available in large widths, like 48"or 60". I got a yard so it wasn't too much and used that pretty much the way you described (trace, drill, dot,& draw).


elsyrsyn19 Aug 2010 8:19 a.m. PST

As an alternative, if you have access to Microsoft Visio (at work, perhaps), I've found that it can be made to print just about perfectly to scale.


Bob in Edmonton19 Aug 2010 9:44 a.m. PST

Walmart sells a plastic grid in the fabric section used by cross stitchers (about 12x18 inches maybe $3). You can use a sharpy to note which holes are the corners of the hex and, with some simple counting, replicate the pattern sheet.

Then lay down and use a fine point sharp to "dot" the fabric through the marked holes and viola, hex grid. You can adjust the size of the hexes, depending on the granularity of the grid.

Top Gun Ace19 Aug 2010 9:56 a.m. PST

Thanks for the detailed idea.

I used plastic canvas to do the same thing, and bought as large a piece as I could. Having several hexes definitely aids alignment.

I used pencil on mine to mark the corners, of a tan, desert mat. Then went back and made three short hash marks at each corner. It works great, and is very unobtrusive.

The real trick in doing large pieces is to not stretch the fabric while marking it, which could result in misalignment.

Thundertotem19 Aug 2010 10:12 a.m. PST

I use (n-2)180 to calculate the angles for when I need to create hexagons. n = the number of sides, Then divide by the number of sides. I just have figure the length of each side (i.E. 4 Inches for example) and go from there.

There is a technique I also use for creating hexes from circles. You can see how it is done here Look for the animated gif. I learned how to do that in technical drafting class in high school

CeruLucifus19 Aug 2010 10:39 a.m. PST

Wow what ingenuity.

I believe you can also buy a hex stencil for your wargames boards, from Litko or somebody?


Top Gun Ace19 Aug 2010 10:54 a.m. PST

That's cheating…..

Andy Skinner Supporting Member of TMP19 Aug 2010 11:17 a.m. PST

The price of the Litko stencils drove me to do this one, besides also increasing the size by a lot. And I'd really be happy if the poster frame had still be $2. USD :)

I know a lot of us have had similar ideas, but I was happy with how Staples printed the PDF exactly as specified for very cheap, and that's the part I really wanted to share. The plastic part is just how I wish I'd done it the first time. :)


Toaster19 Aug 2010 11:42 a.m. PST

I printed out a hex grid undersize and then enlarged it to A3 and played with the photocopier zoom setting until it was the right size, then I laminated it and used my craft knife to cut slots along the sides to make an edge template.


Andy Skinner Supporting Member of TMP19 Aug 2010 3:31 p.m. PST

The poster frame I got was 22 x 34. That's smaller than the 24x36, but bigger than the hexes that were printed on it. Perfect.

Drilling it was a bit slow, but I wish I'd taken a bit more time. Drilling slowly made nice holes, going quickly sometimes broke a piece from around it. With all these regular holes, I'll need to be careful to not break my template in half along a line.

I drilled both corners and centers, which meant I couldn't tell them apart. So I drew the lines around the hexes.

It is a breeze to use--much better than the paper template. With paper, if I can't see the dot through the hole, I don't really know whether to go left or right. With plastic, I can match up overall without having every point line up. It is going very quickly.


Sundance19 Aug 2010 3:55 p.m. PST

I used Bob in Edmonton's process make two 4 x 8 and one 6 x 3 mats. Time consuming, but inexpensive. Unfortunately, the plastic canvas warped and the last mat I made came out off kilter, but it is still usable.

Thundertotem19 Aug 2010 5:39 p.m. PST

I messed up on the polygon formula. it's (n-2)180/n, n= is the number of sides

(Phil Dutre)20 Aug 2010 2:03 a.m. PST

Can't anyone draw a hexgrid with just a (long) ruler and some simple math anymore?

A hexgrid is no more difficult than a square grid, especially if you only want the corner dots. Just use the ruler in 3 different directions (angled at 120 degrees frome each other), know at what distances the corner points have to be, and off you go.
It will be more accurate than using a template that shifts a little bit every time you draw an adjacent hex.

Andy Skinner Supporting Member of TMP20 Aug 2010 4:53 a.m. PST

I started this the day before yesterday, and I'm almost done with my ping-pong table sized felt, including making the template, only working in the evening.

I don't think I could do that, or keep things straight over that amount of space, doing hexes one at a time.

There are things to hand-craft lovingly, and there are things for which one builds tools. For me, this was far easier than constructing one hex at a time. Each layout of the template covers almost 2'x3' with 4" hexes. I can't beat that, and I don't need any better accuracy.


Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.