How it all began
I don't really like the trays Games-Workshop made for War of the Ring. They are a good idea, but I find them fiddly, hard to pick-up and a hassle to use, overall. The models being light-as-leaves doesn't help either as most of the time, when you try to grab a tray or just push it on the table, half the company falls off and must be placed back in. And that's when you're lucky and you didn't also knock down the models in the adjacent trays...
So, members of my gaming club and I decided to make our own trays. We wanted them a bit higher and with a steeper bevel to make them easier to grab. We also wanted them to be heavier, so they don't slide onto the trays in front of them when we push them. And finally, we wanted them magnetized, so the minis wouldn't fall off as easily, even with all the previous work on them... Note:
The sizes used for the trays aren't the minimum one found in the book. They are the same (or almost) as GW's own plastic trays, which are bigger than the minimum size. Tools of the trade
What you need to do
25mm drill bit (1")
41mm drill bit (1 3/8")
Sanding paper and/or files
Straight metal cutter
Hardboard/Masonite (3mm thick)
Metal sheet (as thin as possible)
Filler (wood filler, epoxy putty, polyfilla, etc)
Wood or white glue
Rare earth magnets
Mark your hardboard, and using the saw, cut twice as many pieces as the number of tray you want.
For infantry bases, cut the pieces at 115x60mm. For cavalry, cut them at 90x60mm. Remember, you need two pieces of hardboard per tray.
On half the hardboard pieces, mark the centre of the holes where the bases will fit. To mark the exact centre of the holes, you can use this template
Using the drill, cut out the holes you just marked. Use caution, as the pieces are quite small and you don't want to hurt yourself. Using a grip or vice might help. A press drill is best, but if you must, a hand drill will do the job too.
Once the holes are done, you should sand the 25mm holes with a file or a piece of sanding paper, as the hole is a bit tight for 25mm bases. It will help to fit them snugly in the hole without getting stuck.
Using the straight metal cutters, cut the metal sheet in 110x55mm and 85x45mm pieces. Cut as many as the number of bases you want. You should wear gloves, as the edge can easily cut your hands. Sand the edges lightly to smooth them and to reduce the risk of injuries.
Glue the metal sheets centered on the holed hardboard pieces. Don't put glue inside the holes. If you don't pay attention there, the bases won't fit in the holes.
Glue the full piece of hardboard onto the other side of the metal sheet.
Press and let dry overnight. A big book, a piece of wood, a brick or small children/siblings can do the job.
When dry, sand the edge of the tray in a bevel. Make the bevel steep, as it will help you to pick up the bases without them slipping.
Fill the crack between the two hardboard pieces with the filler. Once dry, sand lightly to smooth it.
You now have plain magnetized trays. You can glue sand and other decorating bits on the top, but be careful not to block the holes. After that, just apply your favourite paint on it to match your unit bases.Then what ?
So, you now have cool metallic home made trays. But apart from bragging rights and wasting your time, you won't go far with just those. You now need to add magnets to your bases. There is a lot of choice in magnets, but we personally use rare earth magnets: the flat cylinder, 6mm wide kind. You can get some there
.Plastic > Only magnet
For plastic models, you can simply glue one magnet at the bottom of the base with super glue. The force of the magnet will be enough to keep your model attached to the tray, even with some free space between them . You should use two or three magnets for plastic cavalry models.Metal > Magnet and putty
For metal models, if you use the previous method, the force between the magnet and the metal plate on the base will not be enough to keep your model attached, because of the weak bond and the model's weight. To counter that, you can put a small blob of putty under the base with glue, put a bit of glue on the putty, then push the magnet into it. With that done, put the model up on the table, and push down. This will make the magnet level with the table, and give it a stronger bond when placed on the tray. For metal cavalry models, just use more magnets, based on their weight.
In both cases, let it dry overnight. If you try to place the model with the magnet on the tray too early, the glue/putty won't hold and the magnet will detach from the base.
Voilà!Extra: Can we do something else with it?
War of the Ring formations come with some special sized bases, like artillery pieces or The Three Hunters formation. You can make those special bases with the same technique. Just make some paper templates first to determine the right size and placement of the holes, and repeat all the previous step using that new template.
French version available at the Chaos Club's blog