Sunday, August 5, 2018

Crafting: The CharacTray(?), my hack of the CharacTable

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I decided to do a customized version of a cool lap table/tray/PED dock product for RPG gaming designed for when you don't sit at a table.  My version is built around the relatively thick/chunky notebook I use for gaming, plus my phone which I use as a notepad.  First I did a quick sketch of the layout on a big pad of graph paper:


Then I went to the art store and bought some materials, and grabbed a few tools to work with: two big sheets of 0.5" thick foam core posterboard, two sheets of soft gray foam, and more glue.


I cut out two matching rectangles from the 0.5" posterboard, one to act as the base, the other to be cut into the walls to be glued on top of the base to separate out the sections.




Then I had a quick chat with my artistic consultant, Samantha.


Next up: sketch out the walls on the "top" board:

Next, I very carefully cut out the wall sections.  I was particularly worried about the thin walls (0.5" deep and wide) would crack or bend.  I swapped in a fresh new blade for my x-acto craft knife and cut carefully.

Here are the wall sections all cut out:

Started gluing wall pieces onto base:

Completed wall gluing...waited overnight for proper drying.

Painted exposed foam core edges black, and extended paint into section floors about 2cm so no white would show after gluing in the soft foam floor linings.  While waiting for it to dry, started cutting out foam linings--always look to be doing two things at once!


But then I found that the glue had warped the base a bit. So I flipped it over and placed a weighty tome on it to get it to press back down some.

Finished gluing in foam floor linings.  While that was drying, started painting tops of wall sections.  Decided to go with a medium/dark gray which could later be drawn on with a marker to add some visual texture.


Here is the wall top painting first coat on.  The paint wouldn't mix properly and came out translucent in places, allowing the white posterboard to show through in places.  Eventually I did two coats and a lot of touch-ups.

And the final result:


Lessons Learned:
1) Even 0.5" (12.5mm) foam core board will warp with relatively (I thought) small amounts of glue. Weigh it down while it dries.
2) Leave more room for electrical cords than you think you'll need.  With the finished model there was not quite enough room to plug in the power cord for the notebook.

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