Today Brent der Fuchs was kind enough to write a guide on how he makes some really effective storage for his FOW collection. The great thing about his method is that it can be done for any storage box you have, from a big plastic tub to a real WW2 ammo box!
Cheap and effective storage trays
Miniature carry-cases with their custom, stacking, foam trays are great, but they can also be expensive. So many of us end up making do with toolboxes, plastic storage tubs and the like. But, since these makeshift options often don’t have properly sized trays or separators, the models we’ve spent hours assembling and painting tend to be more vulnerable in them
Here’s a way to make cheap and effective custom trays for whatever storage or transport container you have so that you can keep your models safe and organized.
Before we get started, here’s a few examples of what can be done. I originally developed this method to make better trays for a second-hand carry case I bought, which came with foam trays that were the wrong size and configuration for my Flames of War models.
I made trays for this old ammunition box to carry my Italian army:
I sized these trays for the plastic storage tub a friend was using.
Okay, let’s get started. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 5mm (3/16”) Foam-core (aka Craft Board). Foam-core is available cheaply in North America at dollar stores.
In Europe, Asia and Latin America availability vary widely [UK players – art stores and Hobby Craft have you covered – Lee].
But these trays can be made using XPS foam board, PLA plastic board, or even corrugated cardboard.
- Ruler/straight edge. I use a metal ruler with a cork backing, but any straight edge will do.
- A craft knife. I prefer the larger kind with retractable break-off blades. Please be careful!
- A cutting surface. I use a self-healing cutting mat.
- A hot-glue gun. A high-heat one is better, as it allows for repositioning before the glue cools.
The first step is to measure and cut the bottom of the trays to match your container. Make sure to leave enough room for the trays to be lifted out. I suggest, test fitting the bottom piece to make sure they are loose enough to grab the edges. If your container has sloped sides, you may want to make each tray progressively larger as you move up.
Next, cut the strips that will serve as both the sides and internal dividers for the trays. For Flames of War, if you’re going to make all of your trays the same height, go with 3.75mm (1.5”), as that will allow for the height of a tank with a waist-height commander sticking out of the hatch. However, you could also make separate trays just for infantry that are 2.5cm (1”) high. The lower your tray height, the more trays you can fit in your container.
Now decide how to configure the divisions you want inside your trays. I’ve made rows 16mm (4 1/8”) apart to allow for two medium bases to sit lengthwise side by side. But you could add more divisions so that infantry bases sit in single rows, or even put cross pieces in so that each base is separated.
Before you glue on the outside walls of the tray, measure and mark where your divisions will go on the bottom of the tray. This is harder to do once the outside walls are in place. Don’t forget to account for the thickness of the outside walls when figuring out the spacing.
Okay, next you’ll measure and glue the outside edges of your tray to the bottom of the tray.
Finally, you’ll cut and glue in the pieces that will divide up the space inside the tray.
If you make all your trays a standard depth, as I have, you may find that your infantry can rattle around. To solve this, I place a piece of foam carpet underlay on top of the infantry stands. This foam is dirt cheap if you buy it from a flooring company. You could use packaging foam or any other soft material that you have on hand or that can pick up cheaply.
And there you have it: a cheap, sturdy, light-weight tray that will keep your models safe and organized. I hope you found this helpful. Happy gaming 🙂
Brent der Fuchs