I am heading to Warmachine Weekend in November. It is my first Con, and I am about as excited as a seven year old on Christmas Eve. That being said. I am getting everything together and ready to go. I have about 65 models that still need to be painted. Tokens to get, a bag to carry everything in etc., and trying to save a bit of money is a must. I need a tournament tray and sadly the ones that would fit my armies would run in the $125- $150 range. Stores like Broken Egg Games has amazing trays but I honestly can't justify the cost. So I set out to see if I could do it myself, and still have a high quality tray.
I started where all married men do, by asking my wife. She is a graphic designer and she helped (well made the whole thing really amazing) by laying out a template for slot spacing. I picked up a piece of scrap wood from Ace Hardware for $7. I got a 17"x 21" composite MDF board that had an actual grain on it. My wife then printed out the stencils and marked the board for drilling.
In the picture you can see how the original thought was to have all the model slots around a large middle rectangle that had a card holder in the middle.
Cutting out the slots was done on a drill press with, 31mm, 41mm and 52mm router bits. Surprisingly there was not too much splintering on the wood during drilling.
Instead of drilling the center storage of the board I found it made more sense to create a little box. I took a 36" piece of pine cut it to length and used wood glue to secure it to the board.
Then it was time to sand, and sand, and sand..... each individual hole needed to be sanded smooth.
I also rounded the corners a bit as sharp corners not only hurt, but they can chip and splinter.
After sanding and all that work, I realized that I had missed two 50mm slots that I needed. I had to knock out some of the middle box. I decided not to remove the sides and shorten them as removing just the one smaller piece of pine caused a bit of damage that took about 20 minutes of sanding to fix.
Then it was off to the paint shop. I used a black enamel paint that seals and protects the wood. It required a few coats and about 6 hours to cure.
But now I have a tournament tray ready for use that will last for years. The best part? It cost a total of $12 (not including time) and the project took about 10 hours (including my wife's design time) from start to finish.