QC Custom Woodworks review: X-Wing Templates
by midwestwargaming · Published · Updated
If you’ve read any of my previous product reviews, either the Wargaming Woodworker or Wyrmwood Games, then you know that I’m a sucker for wooden accessories. Wood is just one of those wonderful materials that can be both rustic and elegant at the same time. Also, unlike plastic, each piece of wood is unique; the grain patterns and shade tell a different story about the life of your accessory. So, imagine my delight when an X-Wing pilot showed up at my local store championship with wooden templates! For this review, I’m going to look at QC’s Custom Woodworks wooden X-Wing templates.
Wood and Star Wars? That’s not futuristic!
Now before you get all worked up and grab your blaster, wood certainly exists in the Star Wars universe. If you don’t believe me, look at the source material.
Now that we’ve established wooden accessories for a Star Wars themed game isn’t a faux pas, let’s look at the product:
Each of these template sets scream luxury. How cool is it to play with range rulers that are hand-crafted out of a material used for acoustic guitars?
QC Custom Woodworks isn’t the only wooden template creator for X-Wing. The most notable competitor would be Team Covenant which is largely known for acrylic accessories but has been dipping their toes into wood. I compared the two on a couple of areas, price and quality.
Price is easy to compare. Currently, Team Covenant has two varieties of wooden templates, Cherry Wood and Mahogany. Their Mahogany set is priced at $70 and the Cherry Wood is priced at $60.00. Cheapest shipping option for US costs $4.90
QC Custom Woodworks currently has 26 different wood varieties. For the more frugal gamer they offer seven different domestic woods like walnut and maple. And for those interested in more exotic woods they have thirteen woods from around the world that I’ve never even heard of like Wenge, Bubinga and Black Plam. Their Cherry Wood is priced at $50 and the Mahogany is priced at $65. Cheapest shipping option for US costs $5.00.
So on price (and variety) QC wins out.
Full disclosure, I’m not a woodworker. However, I like to think that I know more than the average gamer about wood because I’ve had to read about it and talk to professionals about it for my previous reviews. The thing I’ve learned is that different techniques display different levels of craftsmanship. For example, a kid building a birdhouse is going to nail some planks together and call it a day. It’s a simple joining technique that any novice can replicate. A skilled woodworker on the other hand is going to make precise measurements, turn on his/her miter-saw and cut two perfectly aligned angles that fit like a glove and can be glued.
Templates don’t require any joining but they still require techniques to craft and the difference in those techniques varies on skill and experience. Team Covenant’s technique for crafting is pretty straight-forward: sand wood, stain wood, laser-cut templates, sand templates and stain templates. It’s simple and easy to duplicate which is good for a large online-retailer. Unfortunately, it’s also a little counter productive to sell luxury wooden products and then distort the natural color of the wood with teak oil. If I spend $60 on Cherry Wood I want it to look like Cherry Wood, not a brownish glazed, indistinguishable wood.
QC Custom Woodworking is less about manufacturing and more about crafting. Brandon Timper is the craftsman and he starts each project with a 1/4″ thick material and performs a smooth sand on both sides. Next he traces out the individual templates by hand and uses a jig saw and band saw to cut the templates out. Once cut, he uses a variety of sanding equipment to get the templates to closely match the original cardboard templates. In a game of precision, close isn’t good enough so Brandon hand sands the rest of the way until it is a perfect match. Once the set is done he’ll either stamp numbers, fill with color and oil or sometimes visa versa, depending on the color of the letter fill. Brandon uses linseed, walnut and danish oils for his protective sealant; the type of oil he uses depends on the wood and absorption rate. Experience has taught Brandon to vary his method for each wood since absorption rate can vary dramatically from a wood that originates in South America as opposed to a wood that grows in Maine. And unlike teak oil, the oils he uses protects the wood without distorting color, this way they maintain their natural beauty.
If there is any difference in those two woods it is with the grain pattern, not the shade. The natural beauty is definitely preserved.
So, if you still are skipping about the desert with crappy cardboard templates, grow up. It’s time to leave Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru and get your hands on quality templates. Everyone and their brother has plastic so go with something more exotic, get wood. And if you do get wood, don’t pay more for some laser-cut “bantha fodder”, get yourself a handcrafted set from QC Custom Wood Works.
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