My very first insert and what started it all was what I made for one of my favorite games; Carcassonne.
The original insert for Carcassonne is, like most games, a single cardboard piece folded to create compartments. These normally don’t work for expansions, or sometimes they don’t work at all even for their original content.
I finally found a supplier for Foamcore, the material in which I make all my inserts and ordered 20 black A4 sheets. This is why most of my works are made with A4 as base in cutting instructions.
Foamcore is a 5 milimeter wide material made up of two cardboard pieces with a piece of plastic foam stuck between. It’s fairly strong and easy to work with, while still being fairly easy to cut and looks professional. This makes it great for making board game organizers.
I do all my planning in Adobe Illustrator. This not only gives me the correct measurements, it also means I can create PDFs with the cutting plans.
My goals with all inserts are to make them as simple and play-ready that I can, as well as making them able to hold as much as possible in terms of expansions.
I start by measuring the box to know what my limits are. Then I measure the components. Carcassonne has two different kinds of components; square Tiles and their worker-markers called Meeples.
Most organizers are essentially inserts, meaning they have a bottom and four walls that fit snuggly inside the original game box.
I figured the tiles would be easiest to access and stacked if stored in stacks that are lied down in tracks. The Meeples on the other hand would have to be stored in their plastic bags and inside a square compartment of the insert.
I finally settled on a very simple design that ensured the most tiles can fit. The smallest tile slot was made to hold the mini-expansions.
Carcassonne is probably my most ridgid build since I created notches to fit the components into each other, something I’ve since stopped doing. The instructions are thus also somewhat more advanced since they require printing out on A4 paper and then cutting by placing the paper ontop of the foamcore sheet and cutting according to the cut-out lines.
Building the entire insert took about 3 hours. It takes a considerable amount of time cutting all pieces and it should be noted that even with a utility knife it takes either force or multiple cuts to cut through the foamcore. I tried using a scapel pen but it didn’t do a good enough job, though I might try it again some other time.
I got a tips from the DIY-guy on the Geek and Sundry network to use sewing pins that you stick into the corners to hold the pieces together. I recommend checking out his Youtube-video on how to make an organizer for Small World. He also goes through what a rabbet cutter is and how to use it (it’s essentially tool to cut out edges that allows pieces of the foamcore to fit together and makes it look slightly better).
The finished insert
There’s not much to show on this insert really since it’s just one piece. We managed to fit most of the expansions that we already have and it should be capable of holding most expansions, though not the Catapult but we probably won’t be played much with that, if we ever get that expansion.
Creating organizers for board games is fuuuuuun! But also time comsuming… Simply making the plans takes quite some time and making the actual build takes the majority of an afternoon.
I’ll post a separate post on some general tips on making organizers out of foamcore, however I can share some thoughts on the process right now;
1. Cutting from pieces takes the measuring out of the equation. This build was easy since it only required 3 sheets, but the plans can definitely be improved.
2. Creating notches works pretty well, but also takes some time to cut and doesn’t leave room for error should anything be wrong. It also takes time to create the plans for it if needed.
3. You need place for your fingers to retrieve the components. I’ve updated the plans since but my original design didn’t have the triangular scores cut into the dividers that allows you to take out the tiles easier.
In the end, I got what I was after and my girlfriend was very happy. Carcassonne was an easy game to start with and I recommend something similar in components for making your first organizer before you move on to other things.
That’s it for now, stay tuned for more board game organizers (and perhaps other things to do with foamcore) in the future!