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[Tutorial] How to Make Foam Trays
Old 08 Jan 2009, 18:59   #1 (permalink)
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Default [Tutorial] How to Make Foam Trays

I've been making my own foam trays for about a year now and they've held up really well and they're really cheap to make. I can make a tray that fits in a Sabol case that's 1.5" thick for about $2 - $3 a tray. Around here a pluck and pull tray is about $9, so I make 3 trays for the cost of one pre-made one, can't beat that!

What I do is order my foam from this site: http://www.foamorder.com/packing.html (link goes to their packing foam which is what I use). I use the Y37ch foam for the main part of my tray, what the models go into, and then use the CD100 for the bottom of the tray by gluing it on once I cut the slots out. The CD100 I get in 1/4 thickness, again for the bottom of the tray, and the Y37ch I get in whatever thickness I need for my models. The foam I use isn't as dense as buying the pick and pluck trays, but you can get denser foam from them then what I use, it just costs more.

To order, just click one of the types listed above, doesn't matter which, and then click on the first shape listed, square or rectangle.

They will cut your foam to size, so just measure the trays you do have and you can order it in that size from these guys. You then just have to cut out your slots, which is easy and covered below. What I do is use a breakaway utility knife to cut the slots, as shown below. I find these work best because you can extend the blade out a few inches so you can cut through the foam easily.

Here's a shot of the materials you need. The glue I buy at a craft store like Michaels, Jo-Annes, AC Moore, etc, for about $2 and I can get about 4-5 trays out of it. This glue is called Foam Glue and is made by Creative Hands.

I've made a template that I use for this particular type of tray I'm making. I used a cardboard box and just cut my slots out of that. This tray I'm making is 1.5" thick and will fit 24 models, in my case Orks. The tray itself is 7.5" wide by 13" long, the same size as the Sabol trays. You'll see below my tray and bottom are a big bigger. I had ordered these ones a bit long just to be safe and I trim off the excess. Also, it's cheaper if you order the foam in lengths, or widths, that allow you to get more then one tray from it. So, buying one piece of foam 26" in length and 7.5" wide and 1.5" thick is cheaper then one tray at your exact dimensions.

The slots are 1" wide by 2" tall and works equally as well for most Necrons and Tactical Marines. The last slots on the tray are a bit larger, being about 2" x 2", the result of measuring off the 1" x 2" slots, and they work well for things like my Nobz and other larger models. I leave a 1/2" edge around the sides and each slot for stability. Actually, the edge between the 3 vertical slots is a bit under 1/2" so that I can fit 3 tall.

I just tape the template on the tray and use black spray paint to define the slots. Let it dry for about 10 minutes just so you don't get paint all over you when cutting the foam. The line on the right is me marking off the excess which I trim off.

I start the knife at an angle to get my initial cut. Once I start cutting I raise the knife 90 degrees to the tray and use a sawing action so that I can cut to the bottom of the tray and get a straight cut in the corners. Once I've hit the first corner, I turn the knife around and go back the other way, towards where I started from, so that corner is cut. It takes a little practice and you may find your own method, this is just what I've found useful.

I do my cutting on a self-healing mat to help avoid dulling the tip of the knife.

Just go ahead and make all your cuts. I find it easier to make all your cuts one way, say all the long sides of the slots, then turn the tray around and make the other cuts, the short sides. It's a bit tedious but after you've done a few trays you can make all these cuts in about 10-15 minutes.

Once all the cuts are done you pluck it out. Don't pluck them out as you are making your cuts though, do it once all cuts are made. If you pluck them out as you do them then the tray loses density and it's harder to make the rest of your cuts, plus you can tear the slots easily this way. If you did your cuts deep enough and all corners cuts meet then plucking it out is easy but be careful. I keep one hand on the top of the tray while I pluck out the slots.

Now it's time to glue on the bottom. I use a liberal amount of glue and cover all areas on the bottom. Put the bottom piece on and weigh it down with something to ensure even pressure. I let my trays dry overnight before I use them but you could probably use them in about 4-6 hours, takes a while for the glue to dry on the foam.

Once the base thoroughly dried I trimmed off the excess I had and I'm done.

An excellent tutorial! +1 Karma - Anton
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Old 08 Jan 2009, 19:02   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: [Tutorial] How to Make Foam Trays

So simple, yet so brilliant!
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Old 12 Jan 2009, 06:36   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: [Tutorial] How to Make Foam Trays

Great tutorial man! Someone has really needed to make a tut about this, thanks for doing it .

Finally I can make trays to fit my Jetbikes without buying those absurd GW cases... *makes obscene hand gestures*

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Old 12 Jan 2009, 06:40   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: [Tutorial] How to Make Foam Trays

Great tutorial and a great alternative to the pre-mades.

I never figured that you could save that much money compared to the pre-mades.

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Old 12 Jan 2009, 17:00   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: [Tutorial] How to Make Foam Trays

The cost of shipping from that site I mentioned is a bit steep, which does raise the cost of the trays, but it's still cheaper then buying them pre-made. When I buy from them I tend to hold out until I need a bunch of trays to help offset the cost of shipping and reduce the overall cost per-tray. I also have a few friends who make their own so we'll combine an order and split shipping.

So, if you need one or two trays than you're cheaper just buying pre-made, but if you need to buy enough trays to store an entire army than this is the cheapest route. If nothing else I figured I'd just show how easy it is to make your own trays; you can buy foam from various sources.
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Old 13 Jan 2009, 02:46   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: [Tutorial] How to Make Foam Trays

it is cool, i found a way for the trays i had to work, but as soon as i can i think i will try this, it looks better
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Old 14 Jan 2009, 23:50   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: [Tutorial] How to Make Foam Trays

nice idea man
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