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Subject: Upcycling shipping boxes or The Poor Man's Foamboard rss

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Or the Stingy Man's Foamboard more like.

I've always been intrigued by the idea of making custom trays for some of my games to make setup quicker. On the other hand I never liked any game quite enough to justify spending money on "just storage" instead of putting that cash towards something new. If only there were some kind of material that came with every online purchase free of charge... Shipping Boxes.


I noticed that the corrugated fiberboard most of those boxes are made of makes good building material when I was putting some separators into a small box to store PnP card games.

Yesterday I finally took the plunge and made component trays for one of my all time hits: Agricola.


I managed to squeeze the base game plus Farmers of the Moor expansion into the main box.

Top layer


Bottom layer



I would like to say I took my inspiration from Custom Insert for Base Game including FotM Expansion. but in truth, while the thread gave me the initial push, I made it all up as I went along. And I paid for it...

Originally the two trays for the tiles were supposed to fit on the bottom layer but I mis-guesstimated and they came out too wide.
So now I have left the cards in their tuckboxes instead of spreading them out in their own trays on top.
I also had to move three player boards out of the box to get the lid to close but that is no big deal since Agricola is mainly a 2 player game for me anyway. Maybe I'll try lowering the walls of all the trays a little at some point.


The material was pretty straight forward to work with. I've never worked with foamboard so I can't draw direct comparisons.
It took me a moment to get used to how it behaves differently depending on which direction I cut. When going along the "waves" it's pretty easy to squash the edge.
All in all I think I used about half to three quarters of a pretty small box (don't know the measurements because I had already cut it up months ago). There was a bit of waste from dirty parts and sections where it got dinged during transport.
Assembly was no problem at all. It only took very small amounts of glue and it stuck quickly because the paper absorbed the moisture. Will have to see how it holds up after repeated use but I'm confident.

And here they are again in all their glory. For a first time effort I'm pretty pleased with myself.

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Robert Beachler
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Nice work. I always figure corrugated cardboard wouldn't last as long but really it's about how you treat it. Excellent use of free stuff. meeple
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Chris Talmadge
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It can be difficult to get clean cuts with corrugated. Bravo!
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Mason Weaver
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Very cool. Did you just use white pva glue?
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robbdaman wrote:
Nice work. I always figure corrugated cardboard wouldn't last as long but really it's about how you treat it. Excellent use of free stuff. meeple
On the whole they feel pretty sturdy but the and corners and especially the edges parallel to the waves are probably a bit vulnerable.


breakfastcore wrote:
Very cool. Did you just use white pva glue?
Yup. I simply used a toothpick to apply it to the edges. There is very little actual contact area but it worked just fine.
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Michael Snake
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I like the way this looks, great idea!
 
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John Bradshaw
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I'm often tempted to try this sort of thing, and then I get depressed and feel inadequate when I see awesome pics like this! I comfort myself with the thought that if I had tried I'd have probably cut my thumb off anyway.

Well done Sir!
 
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Broti
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Some things learned the hard way when working with this material:
If you want a really stable piece of structure layer it in a criss-cross pattern. Shipping boxes for heavy Items often come in a double- or three-layer sort, at least here in Germany. If you cannot access this kind of material, just take your regular boards and glue two or three of them together before cutting them to size. The criss-cross pattern makes the material really stiff and useful for big structures that might see some force. When glueing those larger boards it is a good idea to put some weight on them so they do not get warped by the moisture. Alternative is to slightly wet the outer sides as well, but they become pretty delicate as long as they are wet.
Those double-layer boards won't warp anymore when being painted on only one side. If you work with a single layer and paint only one side it will bend.

Moisture is a big problem with this material. It gets really soft and is easily squeezed by just handling it. Painting the whole board with thinned down white pva glue impregnates it and stiffens it even more.

Dust is another problem as is handling the structures. The edges get easily squeezed as there is not much support in there. There are some solutions. In rough architectural models I simply took glue (again white pva or any other thick stuff and worked it into the openings. Once dry, they are sealed so no dirt comes in. And they become pretty stiff.
Glueing a layer of thin cardboard or even paper works as well but is much more work and looks ugly most of the times.
A tip suggested to me but never tried: If dirt and dust are not a problem get cyanacrylate (instant adhesive, superglue? Not sure, what you call it) in the ultra thin variation. Best would be a container with a brush. Then simply work it along the open edges. The material will soak it up pretty quickly and gets rock hard once the glue is dry.


For your solution: I would suggest spraypainting it to get rid of that ugly cardboard look and feel.

While we're at it - I still have to do an insert for Caverna as well. But I am going to use foamcore for that. Less problems on working with that stuff, nice and even color so no painting needed and more stiffness for delicate structures. Highly recommend it - the price pays off in saved time. In Germany search for Schaumkarton, Schaumpappe, Foamboard. Modulor has it, Amazon as well of course. Surprisingly had no luck with ebay.

Jan
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Sam Phillips Beckerman
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I love the look of these. I wouldn't paint or cover them. But I also like the idea of doubling up the single layer corrugated paper. Seems like the "wavy" sides would interlock, making a quite strong structure.

As for the edges, If the trays are going to be removed from box and used on the table, the top rim definitely needs to be protected. Artists use something called Gel Medium that would be perfect. A cheaper version of that would be the decoupage gels. Any boxes not used on the table, I would glue to each other.
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I just got done making another one of these.
This time for Mage Knight or "The only game with an insert so crappy even I will happily throw it out."
MK was the game that originally sparked the whole idea and now that I got back into playing it I finally took the plunge.

It's a somewhat simplified version of the excellent Mage Knight Insert - Dimensioned Drawings by user
Andy O
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Top layer


Bottom layer


Splayed out



Also, note the edges of my newly converted super fancy gaming table.
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Aaron Hall
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Just an FYI, I was disheartened when I searched foamboard and saw stuff for $12 at Michael's and Hobby Lobby. To my glee, Dollar Tree sells 20"x30" foamboard for $1 and Walmart sells the same for $0.79. I am willing to screw up a few inserts for that prices
 
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