I’ve been making my own foam trays for a few years now and they’ve held up really well and they’re really cheap to make. I can make a foam 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 also used regular Elmers glue and it works just as
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
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.