Laser Cut Movement Trays

One of the benefits of having a laser cutter is that you can make very precise cuts – such as the ones needed to create wargaming Laser Cut Movement Trays.  Many games require your troops to be organized in very specifically sized formations.  It is common that you model and base them individually and then group them into trays to represent units in the army.  You can buy them ready made such as the ones made by Gale Force Nine, but they may have some drawbacks: namely – fixed size, very thick margin between models and border of tray and the lack of a surface that magnetically attaches the models (such as the ones from AEG).

Steel lined laser cut wooden movement trays.
Steel lined laser cut wooden movement trays.

Laser Cut and 3D Printed Movement Trays
Laser Cut and 3D Printed Movement Trays

How to Build

To solve this I laser cut two trays – one full sized and one with a large hole inside that leaves out a tenth of an inch of margin between the end of the model and the edge of the tray.  The laser cutter gives me the flexibility of cutting them any size I want for any game I want.  You can also achieve that with a 3D Printer – and I have done so as in the picture above – but I believe the wood creates a more elegant finish that doesn’t require painting or flocking before you put it into the table.  (For 3D Printing files go to thingiverse). Laser Cut Wargame Movement Trays Files.  I use baltic birch plywood supplied by woodcraft.

The galvanized steel sheet metal is fairly easy to find at your local refrigeration (A/C Heating) section of the hardware store, but you can also get it from amazon.  Make sure you buy steel and not aluminum – you want those magnetsthat you put under the miniature bases to stick to the surface.  As for how to cut the sheet metal – just measure using a ruler and a sharpie and cut with regular metal cutting shears.  That is unless you want to go fancy with the nice sheet metal cutting machine I will buy someday.

I normally glue the miniatures trays using white school glue or carpenter’s glue.  The metal insert, however is glued using Gorilla Glue.  It is important to use as little gorilla glue as possible, otherwise it spills over the edges when drying.  As with any gluing operation, some springand bar clamps are extremely useful, just as shown in the picture.

Gluing the wargame movement trays
Gluing the wargame movement trays

Sheet Metal Cutting
Sheet Metal Cutting

Can You Make Me One?

Do I sell them?  Do I trade them?  Sure, I can do that.  I just traded a few sized for the Longstreet American Civil War wargame with a friend in exchange for some Flames of War soviets.  But I would rather enable you to build your own with this article.  You see, this is not a business for me – just a hobbie.  If you really want them, I would rather trade a few with you for some other hobby item I want – or even one that is curious enough that sparks my interest.  Check my trading page for ideas of what to trade, but do not be shy and offer anything interesting you have in exchange.

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