My goal for this project was to build a decent carrying case for my 40K miniatures. I have multiple army's and a variety of model sizes and most importantly: not much money. So my secondary objective for this, was to make it so that I could either reuse trays for different kinds of models or just make it cheap enough to have trays for all the different types of models that I have.
- Soft bag cooler: ~$18 (Walmart)
- Foam Sheets: $1.29 each (Hobby Lobby, the thick ones)
- 1" Foam Cushion: ~$5 (Hobby Lobby)
- Hot Glue
- Super Glue
- Baking Soda
- Hobby knife
- Straight edge
- Hot Glue Gun
Before you start, decide how many trays you want and their depth. Then make sure it will all fit into the case you bought. Also keep in mind that each foam sheet(the base for each try) will add to the height of each try.
Step 1: Cut Out Your First Tray
- Foam Sheet
This first part will depend a lot on the case you bought. I bought a soft cooler with a hard plastic insert. Mine was noticeably smaller on the bottom than it was on the top. I've found that many bags are smaller at the bottom than they are at the top, even if they don't look like it.
If your case is not square, trace out the edges on your Foam Sheet to get a rough pattern. Once cut out, trim it down so that you have a nice loose fit. I can't stress enough how much you do NOT want a tight fit, especially if you don't have a plastic core like the one I'm working with. If you are working with a softer kind of bag, give yourself a lot of wiggle room; otherwise when you start putting your trays in, they will warp.
Step 2: Tray Walls
- 1" Foam Cushion
- Or Foam Sheet
For the outer walls you can use either of the above to make it. However I would recommend the Foam Cushion if it's your first time trying this or if you are making deep trays.
Before you cut out any more trays, lets glue on the outer walls of our first tray. Take the Foam Cushion and cut a strip(s) with a width of how deep you want your try to be. My first tray is 1.5 inches deep and I needed 2 strips for it to completely go around.
Using a hot glue gun, glue the cushion foam to the foam sheet. If you are using more than one strip, make sure you glue them together at the seam. I found the easiest way was to glue the seams last. Gluing the seams can be tricky however, for good results, squish the two together until the glue cools off. BE CAREFUL as the glue will be hot and can burn you even if you do not have direct contact with it.
If you are using Foam Sheets for the walls, I do not recommend using hot glue. Go-to step 5 for gluing guidelines.
Step 3: Continue Building Trays
Continue building trays using Steps 1 & 2. Test fit each tray on top of the last to make sure it all fits well. If you have a case like mine, make sure each consecutive tray is larger than the last to make the most of the space you have.
- Use the leftovers of your previous cut out as a template for the next
- For deeper trays, use your models as a guide so that you don't make them too shallow
Step 4: Tray Spacers Intro
The next couple of steps will go into different ways to fill out your trays. For myself, I wanted some trays to be flexible and able to hold different types of models, while other trays to be a more standard troop tray. After using and trying several different types of trays, I would recommend the more permanent method. But I will still go over each.
Step 5: A: Permanent Trays
- Foam Sheets
- Super Glue
- Baking Soda
First plan out how you want your models to go into each tray. Also think about how you want your models to fit into the try. In the pictures above, I've given examples of both loose fit and tight fit. I've also used much lower walls (lower than outer walls) so that things like tails or guns can stick out and over. This works great if you make it so that it hugs the base tight enough so that the model doesn't move.
After you have planned out how you want your trays to be organized, cut out the long pieces of foam sheet and make sure you use a straight edge of some sort. Next use superglue to glue in the long strips.
The next part is very important. Most likely you will have spots of wet superglue or gaps (because didn't quite get it straight enough). Never fear, for this is where the baking soda comes in. Liberally dust the baking soda over the tray. Then pat it around to make sure it gets everywhere (inside the tray.) Next go OUTSIDE and bang out all the excess baking soda. What baking soda does is act as a curing agent for superglue and it can also help fill in some gaps that you may have had in your walls. The other nice thing this will do for you is that it will help when placing all your other pieces.
Now glue in all your short intersection pieces. The left over baking soda will help them stick better and set faster, but will also give you a few seconds of leeway when placing them. If you feel like you need to, do another dusting of baking soda.
After you are done use an airbrush, canned air, or air compressor to remove excess baking soda. If you don't have any of these, a wet cloth will work too.
Step 6: B: Temporary Divisions
- Foam Sheets
The concept on this is pretty straight forward by looking at the images.
Same as before, make sure you plan out where you want everything, then cut out your panels accordingly. If they are all the same height is pretty simple to do the joints. Just remember if you make your cuts to deep you will loose stability. It's better to cut less and then go back. The end result that you are looking for is to have all pieces flush on the bottom after firmly pressing them together.
I do not like this design for a few reasons. First, since it is not glued down, it has less stability as a tray as a whole. The previous try design, basically acted as support beams adding to it's stability. Second, because it's less stable, your divisions tend to come apart. Third, because it's not glued down bases will some times go under the divisions. Forth, it's not as easy to put models in (it takes more time to use).
Step 7: C: GW Like
Here is an example of one of my first attempts at making a custom case and custom trays in the picture above. As you can see it works so-so. No where near the capability of the real GW tray. However there are some benifits to it. Each divider is not glued down so you can easily go from tanks to troops and can do it quickly. In practice however, it's not always that easy. There are some improvements that can be made to it, but I'll leave that to your own imagination.
- Thick Foam Sheet
- Thin Foam Sheet
First cut out your thick divider from the thick foam sheet. Next cut a thin foam sheet to a width that is less than the thick foam divider and about 1.5~2 times longer than the divider. (I never figured out the exact amount.) Next make an accordion out of the thin sheet you just made. Now glue the accordion's edges to the thick foam divider. Do this for both sides.
Now do the same accordion process for the sides of the try itself. In the picture above I also glued the ends of the dividers to the sides of the tray.
Here are a few ideas that could make this better:
- Add accordion's to the top and bottom for easier divider placement
- Cut the peeks of all the accordion's top edges, this will allow them to fold in better
- Do not glue dividers down anywhere
Step 8: You Are Done!
Congratulations, you are done!
Now take a stencil and airbrush something cool on the side your bag!
For $27, I was able to make a carrying case that consisted of 5 trays. Two 1.5 inch, two 2.5 inch, and one 5 inch tray. I am able to hold 1500-2000 points of Tyranids. I have yet to try and put in one of my other armys, so I may end up making custom trays for each one.
If you are interested in these kinds of 40k projects or painting in general, visit my blog at: http://40kpaints.blogspot.com/
Although I'm not very active in the summer as it's to hot in the garage!