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Making Counters
By Paul Aceto
March 2012

In a previous Daily Content posting, Richard Gutenkunst provided his thoughts on making counters from electronic files. I offer below an alternative method, using the old downloadable Panzer Grenadier: Iron Wolves as an example (that download's no longer available; Iron Wolves now comes with die-cut counters).

To do it my way, you will need four things:

  1. Color printer (either your own, or one at a copy shop/office supply store).
  2. Mat board (available at arts & crafts stores in their framing department, about $15 a sheet).
  3. Adhesive-backed label paper (available on-line or at an office supply store. I use Avery 5265, 25 sheets for $8.49 on-line or about $12 retail).
  4. Rotary cutter (available at an office supply store for about $49.99).

To start, I printed the two Iron Wolves files, front and back, onto the Avery paper. For this example, I actually went to Office Depot with the files on a thumb drive and asked them to make the copies, using my paper. Total cost about $1. Their quality was better than my basic HP printer.

Next, I cut out a piece of the mat board that was large enough to hold one counter sheet.

I then peeled off the back of the adhesive paper, and carefully pressed the counter sheet down on mat board. That done, I cut off the edges of the counter sheet with the rotary cutter.

Next, I cut this piece into smaller blocks before affixing the back-side counters. This is a key step. It is very hard to get both sides of double-sided counters to match up perfectly. This is especially true when you use label paper, as you will not be able to massage into place once it is affixed. By using smaller pieces, you minimize the potential registration errors with each block.

So I cut mine first vertically, and then each resulting piece into thirds.

Next, you cut the back-side counter sheet to match the corresponding blocks.

Then you very carefully and slowly affix each back-side sheet to the mounted block. I found with the Avery paper, you can remove the new sheet once if you make a mistake, but after that the paper starts to curl and you lose adhesion.

With both sides on, you are ready to start your final cuts. I do mine in horizontal strips.

Then you cut each strip into the individual pieces. You will need a small piece of mat board from time to press through the rump end of the strips, when there are only two units, as it will be completely under the rotary cutters plastic shield.

Here you see the finished product, both front and back.

Total time: about 30 minutes.

You can use scissors or an X-acto knife in place of the rotary cutter. I mount quite a few counters, so find the cutter a very worthwhile investment. Also, you can substitute other types of backing, though after much trial and error I am now sold on mat board. The one area I would not change is the Avery paper. I used to use rubber cement for affixing the counters, but have found the Avery paper much better and easier to use. Less stress on the hands, more consistent adhesion and no bleed-through.

Put your new knowledge to work just Print and Play!