Hello! I'd like to buy some inserts for my games (scythe,robinson crusoe, mage knight etc), maybe foam ones, but I don't know where to find them. Not too expensive. I live in italy so I need something with EU shipping, any suggestion? Thanks
ps: I might look into making a custom one but I have no idea how to do it. The only thing I've made is a dice tray following a guide here on the forum with an ikea frame
While I can't help with buying inserts, I do have some advice on making your own.
First some words on expenses: It really depends. Foamcore is not the cheapest material especially if you want it black. But the real expense of making your own is time. If your time is precious it will be far cheaper to buy them premade from some company even paying extra for shipping.
Assuming you decided to make your own using foamcore, the first step is to see if you can find any in your local stores. Look for stores that cater to arts and crafts. I don't know what they call foamcore in Italian, but in English it is also known as Foam Board. It usually comes at two thicknesses (3mm and 5mm) and two colours (White and Black). White is cheaper than black and 5mm is cheaper than 3 mm. Black looks nicer once you finish, but white is easier to work with because you can see the pencil lines you draw on it better. 3mm is much easier to cut and allows you to have more room for the components (Believe me, those 2mm really adds up fast especially in complex designs), however since the edge is thinner there is less surface area on the edge for glue, so it is more fragile. Careful handling the sheets as it is quite soft and if it gets creases there is no getting rid of them.
Other than foamcore you will need several other things:
- Sharp Knife: Utility knife is perfect. The blade needs to be changable because foamcore blunts the edge very rapidly. And unless it is sharp you will have a real struggle to make your edges flat and looking nice.
- Accurate Metal Ruler: You need it metal because you will be using it as a guide while cutting. Ideally it should be long enough to be able to make even long cuts in one go.
- Glue: Any glue intended for paper will work. PVA (White glue) is my favourite.
- Cutting Mat: You don't want to cut your table and you want to be comfortable making the cuts without worrying about that. If you don't have a mat, a layer of several newspapers should do the trick.
- Straight Pins: This is entirely optional, but very helpful. They are sold in any fabric stores and very cheap. You don't need many. Their purpose is to help you when gluing so you can apply pressure without worrying about glued piece shifting out of position. Also good for prototying your design before applying glue.
- Labelmaker: Optional. You can label your inserts with Sharpie (If you went for white foamcore), but labelmaker makes it easier to read later.
Next you need a design. I usually go to the game's page on this site and look through the images of what other people did and copy their ideas. Measurements are usually not available, so you will need to come up with these based on the layout, box size and size of decks/components. Sketch your design on paper with all the measurements. Several pieces of advice from my experience when designing:
- Don't forget to include the width of foam core in your calculations.
- Always allow 1 mm extra for miss-allignment, mistakes and ease of component movement.
- Don't forget about the width of manuals if you want the box to close fully
- Try not to have the top of the box rest directly on components. You want to be comfortable putthing heavy things on top of your game box.
- Cards are hard to get out when they are flat. If you must have them flat (Height issues, etc) have a narrow gap in one side so you can get your finger in to grip the whole deck by the side.
- To conserve vertical space, you don't necessarily need a foamcore floor for the bottom layer. You do need a floor if you have thin components that may get under the insert (Cards lying flat).
- For strength each foamcore piece should be attached by glue on at least two sides. If you must have it attached on only one side, put a straight pin through it and leave it in. If the pin is too long, you may need to snip it with wirecutters.
- Try not to make everything too tight as it will make it difficult to take components out. It may be worthwhile to pay extra for 3mm foamcore if you are struggling to fit everything.
- Ideally have small components in a removable tray that you can just take out of the box and use on the game table. Really saves time on the setup.
- You want everything snug enough and covered to be able to turn the closed game box upside down and rattle it around without any pieces comming out of their dedicated place.
- Make sure you label each non-obvious component space before you glue. This is especially true for card decks as it is difficult to tell which deck fits where.
Once you have your design you are all set to go buy the foamcore. Get extra because mistakes will happen and if you have leftovers they don't spoil and will be useful in future projects.
Cut your foamcore to size. Here is a good video series that describes everything you need to know about actually working with foamcore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hfKaDX2P2k. Measure twice before cutting. Please change your knife blade often. Don't be stingy on the blades as it will save you so much on frustration. They get noticable blunt after just 4 long cuts!
Before you glue, draw lines on the pieces to mark where the different parts will be glued to. You will be alligning to these lines while gluing to make sure everything is nice and straight. This will pay off during the gluing process. You can also put everything together using only the pins in order to test out your design.
The gluing itself is dead simple if you spent the time to draw all the lines. Try to avoid putting too much glue as it will just squeeze out after you put the piece into place. It can be hard to wipe it in tight corners. Secure each piece with a pin as you go. That way you don't need to worry about them shifting around as you are making them tight. Try to start from one side, do the interiors and final piece being the other side of the module. That gives you maximum room to work in.
Once the glue is dry, take out the pins. Then take some pictures, make a thread on these forums and show us what you made.
One last piece of advice if you decide to take on these creative projects: Please fight perfectionism. Don't worry about messy edges, left over pencil marks and minor miss-allignment. Foamcore is very forgiving. It doesn't have to look pretty as long as it does the job.