I went to an event not too long ago (you can read about that here) and I didn’t want to use my makeshift foam cases to transport my miniatures. The bits on my models get stuck in the foam, bits break off, no one has any fun. I had researched alternatives and while I had found something like the A-Case (which looks fantastic) it was way more than what I wanted to pay. The premise of it though, installing magnets on the bottom of each miniature and then placing all your models on metal sheets within a case, appealed to me. With a bit more research, I decided to try and build my own. I’ll list the steps I actually took in making this case, approximate cost, links to similar parts found online, and include things I would have done differently. Hopefully, if I had a guide like this, the case would have come out perfectly – as it stands, it’s a very functional, decent case.
It hopefully goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway – be safe. Wear protective gear. Don’t cut off appendages. Don’t be a dumbass.
- Sheet metal
- Method to fix metal inside the toolbox (screws, nuts, and washers shown below)*
The toolbox needs a flat or fairly flat base inside in order to fix the metal to it securely. It’s also helpful if it has an upper shelf like is shown above. This allows for multiple levels of model storage, plus a place to store dice, rulers, objective markers, etc.
The sheet metal was pretty thin, though I don’t remember the exact thickness. It’s ok if it’s a little flimsy because you’re going to have to be cutting through it, so don’t try to find 1/8″ thick or anything.
The magnets that you’re looking for should be able to fit under each base. I found neodymium 3/8″ diameter magnets to work well and be surprisingly strong. These are the exact magnets I used.
*I originally thought I’d drill through the sheet metal and bottom of the tool box and fix the metal to the bottom using screws, nuts, and washers. However, I started questioning just how easy it would be to drill through the metal with my handheld drill, and ultimately, due to the flatness of the inside of my box, elected to just use really strong double-sided sticky tape. Screws would have done the job too, but if you’re unable to do that (or don’t want to) know that strong tape works just as well. This would work well.
All in all, materials cost me under $30 for the toolbox, metal, and strong tape. Then I bought as many magnets as I needed, which for me was about 60, so another $12 dollars for a total of definitely less than $50. That’s somewhere between a half and a third of the equivalent A-Case.
- Straight edge
- Tin snips
- Tape measurer
- Drill and bits (if not using tape)
- Metal file (not shown)
- Super glue (not shown, but you probably already have some of this from model assembly)
- Measure the inside of your toolbox in both directions. Subtract a half inch from each measurement. This subtraction will ensure that you have a little wiggle room later on.
- Use the straight edge, marker, and tape measurer to mark a piece of sheet metal to the resultant dimension from step #1.
- Using the tin snips, carefully cut the metal to the desired dimensions. Wear all necessary protective gear to ensure that you stay safe and generally, don’t be a dumbass.
- File down any sharp edges or corners from the metal using the metal file.
- If using tape, apply tape to one side of the cut metal. If using screws, position the metal sheet inside the box, mark the desired locations of the screws, position the toolbox above something that you can drill into or such that you have clearance underneath it, and drill each hole.
- Affix the metal to the bottom of the box using the tape or with the screws, nuts, and washers.
- Glue a magnet (with strong super glue) to the inside bottom of each model that you want to use with this case. Bases with slots might present problems, but most other bases should have some recess under the base that provides clearance for the magnets. All of my infantry bases had already be weighted by gluing pennies in the underside, so I had a bit less clearance than most. Even still, I just just enough room to fit the penny and magnets under the base will little to no clearance issues.
You’re done! It’s really that simple. Make sure to wait for the glue to thoroughly dry because you don’t want to get too eager to test the magnets and then pull off the still-wet super glue. You could fix a piece of sheet metal to both the inside bottom and the upper layer of the toolbox to provide maximum transporting space, but the bottom was enough for the army I was taking, so I just left the top caddy free and clear of sheet metal. I can always go back and put metal there if I need the space. For now, it’ll function as an area to hold dice, rulers, etc.
What I would have done differently:
- I would have looked for an alternative style of magnet for my bases with slots in them. The magnet doesn’t sit flush with the bottom of the base so it makes the model a tad wobbly. Placing the magnet in the center of the base helps, but it’s not perfect. The clear plastic flight bases for my drones are worse, however, and I might end up revising the style of magnet and painting the clear bottom base because as it stands, you can see the magnet through the stand.
- I’m not 100% sure how long my double-sided tape will hold for because I’ve never used it. It held up admirably the day I went to the event, but time will tell. If it starts peeling up or coming undone, I may go back to my original idea of screws.
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Thanks for reading – happy dice rolls!