When it comes to miniature storage there is sometimes nothing better than making your own. In this post I will supply the cut list, tools, and steps involved in making your own foam core miniature figure storage tray. If you would like to learn more on how I came to this design and the design constraints I had as a hobbyist check out the post: Storage Wars (Part 3) Miniature Storage. I go through the evolution of my miniature storage as well as reasons why I decided to make my own.
Overall these trays can hold approximately 30-40 miniatures per tray. Using my ideal storage box the Snap n Stack ornament boxes I can fit two trays per box up to a 3 stack of boxes (6 total trays).
The guide below shows the step by step guide on how to create these trays for standard models laying down but there are alternate applications such as models standing up, or larger monsters.
- A storage container. This is completely based on your preference and availability. Overall I prefer to have a clear plastic box with vertical sides.
Note: If choosing a box that has a slight slant trays will have to have a specific location and order for placement rather than be completely modular.
Personal Favorite Box: Snap N Stack 3 Layer Ornament Keeper.
Website example: Snapware homepage
Availability: Since these are designated as “ornament keepers” availability does fluctuate throughout the year, I most commonly buy from JoAnn’s Fabric for these boxes but can be found just about anywhere. Most commonly i’ll use a 50% coupon and can purchase the container from any where between $17- $35.
Cheaper Alternative Box Choice: Collapsible Storage Cube
Website Example:Amazon Link
Availability: These can be found all over but I make sure to have a 12 x 12 inch cube. Some will be smaller.
2. FoamCore board: I personally prefer black in color that is 1/4 inches (6.35mm) thick, but any color will work.
Personal Favorite: I most commonly purchase the foam board as the Trifold display boards. This is most commonly a financial choice as I will get more board surface area for less money. So regular foam core boards will work.
3. Hobby Knife: This could be anything from a pair of scissors, exacto knife, or my favorite an auto reload professional cutter.
Personal Favorite: Fiskars Auto Reload Heavy Duty Professional Cutter 9 mm
5. Hot Glue/ Glue Gun: Use for attaching foam core.
6. Toothpicks: Allows for modularity of design to hold miniatures in rows.
7. Cardstock (optional): Can be used to color code trays or replace bases of trays if needing additional height.
List below is for approximately 1 standard miniature tray.
- Base Cut: 12 x 12 inches. It is ok if this is slightly small as the box container is also 12 x 12 inches.
- 4 Sides: 12 inches long and 1 1/4th inches high.
- 4 Row cuts: 11 1/2 inches long 1 inch tall
- Keep scrap and other pieces for spacers of variable heights.
- Break down Trifold Foam Core board into the center and side pieces. This will result in 3 pieces of foam core.
Note sides are are 12 inches wide so perfect widths for rows & sides cuts.
2. To start, cut out the base piece to size ( 12 x 12 inches) and make sure it fits into your container.
3. Cut sides to tray and row pieces. Due to personal preference the interior rows are 1/4 inches shorter in height than the exterior. This also ensures that stacking trays will sit level by being supported by the sides if your cuts are not perfect.
4. Glue 4 sides to Base. This will typically require some sides to be trimmed slightly depending on order of which you put in the side pieces. Since the foam is 1/4 inches thick there will be overlap. Don’t be afraid to trim to fit!
4. Glue 4 rows into tray. Since your miniatures can have variable height due to holding spears, bows and arrows, being based etc. I tend to put a bunch of miniatures into the tray and eye ball the height spacing of these trays.
Most commonly space is 1 3/4 inches ( 44.5 mm).
You can also include packing foam wrap (shown on bottom in green) to add extra cushion for your miniatures.
5. Cut Scrap Foam Core as spacers between miniatures. By cutting strips of scrap foam core (shown in white) you can add additional spacers between the miniatures adding extra security to hold the figures in place. Scrap is typically slightly shorter than row strips and toothpicks pushed through on either end to hold in place.
I use toothpicks pushed through the foam core so that way in the future if I want to adapt what goes into the trays I can do so for each row. You can however glue them if you wish.
Repeat as necessary until your tray is finished! You can also include cardstock as a way to identify and label your boxes as well if you wish. Most commonly I wrap it around the outside of the box.
Other Types of these Trays
Putting All Together
Here you go my guide to making DIY foam core miniature storage trays. Let me know what you think or have ideas on future iterations. If you have any questions or want to see these trays in other boxes and/or terrain applications let me know in the comments below.
As always Happy Crafting,