So you’re holding your Tiny Epic Chest kit in your hands and you’re wondering what to do next. No problem. This construction walkthrough will take you from kit to built chest in 20 – 30 minutes.
Your Tiny Epic Chest is cut from NAF HDF. The HDF we use is formed using a special resin that results in a wood product that is impregnated with polyurethane. This makes the resulting wood heavier than normal HDF, but this HDF contains no added formaldehyde, like 99% of the HDF available in the U.S. market. HDF, unlike natural plywoods, is constructed from tiny wood bits mixed with a resin, and then heat pressed. This results in a very uniform wood sheet that is smooth on both sides and contains no knots or patches. Cutting HDF on the laser is like cutting butter with a warm knife. It is the ideal material to cut! However, keep in mind that all wood sheet products of this type do experience some color variation. This typically manifests as slightly darker splotches a millimeter or two in size here and there on the surface of the wood. This is normal.
Everyone has a favorite glue. Mine is Sobo Craft Glue. When building any of our kits, you want a thick, tacky white glue that sets quickly allowing you to continue building (and not hold pieces), and that dries clear. You don’t have to use Sobo, but you should use a tacky glue if possible. It will make the experience almost effortless. The Tiny Epic Chest ships with 6 glue sticks that allow you to clean up extra glue with ease from those tight, 90 degree joints. There are also a few sticks that are large enough to use for glue removal in some of the other pieces, if you find you need extras.
A good work area will make your construction project quick and orderly. You don’t need much space – maybe an 18″x 18″ area. You can lay some printer paper down as your work space, and I like to place an extra piece of paper off to the side to act as a glue collection area for cleaning my fingers and my glue sticks off.
You have the option of sanding the pieces of your new Tiny Epic Chest. We cut the chests using a custom lamella arrangement to reduce laser flashback on the lower surface of the wood and we use a cone that provides low pressure air assist to reduce the amount of “browning” around the cuts on top of each sheet, but some browning and flashback are unavoidable. If you do choose to sand the pieces, use a 320 grit sandpaper and hand sand the pieces. A light sanding will remove any laser marks. When sanding engraved areas, you will benefit from using a sanding block. A sanding block will ensure that your sanding is even and that the engraving is not affected. In any case, take care when sanding around engraved areas and don’t sand the actual engraving.
You can also optionally paint or stain your new bit box. Keep in mind that painting in and around the rail surfaces will create more friction and may cause your lid to no longer fit into the rails area. Proceed with caution. If you are going to paint your bit box, some additional sanding on the underside of the rails can provide additional clearance for the newly painted surfaces. Staining will not affect the rails, but if you apply a polyurethane finish after staining, you will have to take care around rail areas. As always, follow the instructions for your paint or stain. Finally, you should always test your paint or stain on the frame or sprue before applying to your project to make sure you will be happy with the results.
Handle Small Pieces with Care
The four side rails and the handle that attaches to the lid are the weakest links of your chest. Once they are glued into place, you should be fine, but handle these pieces with care during construction. You will recognize these pieces when you see them, as they are long and thin.
Before you start gluing things, you should lay out the pieces and dry fit them so you have a good understanding of how they go together. This is Golden Rule #1. This will help you avoid mistakes such as applying glue to the wrong side of a piece. Once you dry fit your chest, you can lay the pieces out in their approximate positions as a reminder of what goes where. It helps! When we produce a Tiny Epic Chest, we produce the entire box from the same sheet of wood to ensure that coloration and finish match.
One thing to keep in mind is that HDF (and all wood products) are produced to a specific thickness with a specified amount of variance. For example, 3mm HDF is usually no thinner than 3mm, but will sometimes be 3.1mm thick. This variance can require you to apply some force to place interior walls/pieces. Don’t use a hammer! A small rubber mallet would be O.K., but simply fitting the piece and then turning it over and tapping it with some force with your hand will generally seat the piece in question. We measure the thickness of each pallet of HDF we receive to ensure the thickness is within tolerance. Generally, the pieces will just drop into the inner joints, but sometimes you may find some force is needed. The spine of a substantial book could also be used. Just remember, apply very light force and increase the force, as needed.
Build from the Inside Out
This is Golden Rule #2 and it applies to all of our products. You should always place inner walls and pieces first and build out towards the walls of the chest.
Of course, the lid isn’t part of the lower chest so you probably should attach the rail to the lid before doing anything else. Once you have built your chest, you will want to slide the top into place to ensure the rails are free of glue and to make sure the box fits properly. Having the lid completed first will allow this.
The Tiny Epic Chest features a bit tray that sits inside the chest and stores your player bits, as well as the resource tokens. Let’s go ahead and build the tray now so we can just drop it in after the lid rails are attached and then leave the chest to dry overnight.
First, place the central wall. This wall will require a little force to place. I typically glue it and then seat with increasing force from one side to another. You may then need to flip the tray over and then use the spine of a book (or small rubber mallet) to seat the entire wall. Proceed with care and always apply light force and increase as needed.
Next, place the two smaller walls that split the tray into 6 compartments.
Then glue and place the two short end walls on the tray. The end walls have a small cutout in the center. As always, clean up the excess glue.
Next, attach the two longer walls to the bit tray.
As always, clean up the excess glue.
You can now set the bit tray aside to dry.
Unlike most of our small boxes and chests, the inside of the Tiny Epic Chest is little more complicated. It has a card storage area, as well as a token rack for the mini-expansion tokens. The bottom of the chest has storage for your dice (2 or 5 depending on your pledge level) , plus the start player token.
First up, let’s get the token rack put together.
Glue the two small half-circle pieces into the longer wall shown above. Remember, the top of these inner walls are flat to accommodate the bit tray. There’s an old saying that you can never use too much glue. That’s generally true and I judiciously use glue when I build, but keep in mind you need to clean up the excess, so experiment a little to find the right balance.
Once you have the two pieces placed, use a glue stick to clean up the excess glue on all surfaces. I generally wipe the glue off the glue stick onto a piece of paper and then further clean the end of the glue stick with my fingers. I then rub my fingers together to dry the glue and peel it off my finger into a pile on the paper where I place glue.
Next, place the small wall piece onto the two token ends you just placed and cleanup the excess glue.
Now place glue on each side of the small pillars that will seat into the base of the chest.
And lightly seat the token section. The goal is to allow the additional pieces to be connected prior to fully seating these pieces, so don’t push the token section in completely yet.
Next, apply glue to the other pieces that form the card storage area and lightly seat them as well.
Finally, with the entire structure in place, carefully seat all of the pieces starting with the token storage rack and working to the right. Once seated fully, clean up the excess glue.
Side Wall Rails
Before we attach the walls to the base, let’s attach the lower rails to the side walls. One note here: one of the side walls has the Gamelyn logo engraved, so make sure you attach the rail to the opposite side so that the engraving faces outwards.
Prepare the rails by applying glue to them. You can apply glue to the valleys of the rails or you can instead apply glue the space between the notches on the side walls.
Then seat the rails and cleanup the excess glue.
Attaching the Walls
Now attach the outer walls to the base. Cold drink optional.
The easiest way to attach the outer wall is to begin by gluing a side wall and the rear wall (the rear wall has holes cut for the lid to slide into). Then place them. The corner where they join together will stabilize the walls. Remember to only glue one side of each outer wall. Once placed, cleanup the excess glue. Excess on the inside will be tough to reach in some areas. It’s OK to leave it.
Next, place the front wall.
Finally, place the side wall.
The Top Rails
Our bit box design uses friction along several surfaces to hold the box closed. Two of these surfaces are the rails that attach to the top of the side walls.
I like to use the included extra glue sticks to apply dabs of glue to the surface of the rails to keep the amount of excess glue to a minimum. This helps to keep the rail slots clear of glue while building.
Then place the rails.
Next, firmly seat each rail by applying pressure to various points on the rail. Be careful not to smudge the glue that gets squeezed out of the joints.
It is important that you use the included glue sticks to clear any excess glue from the rail area as dried glue will impede your ability to slide the bit box top closed. Just drag the glue stick slowly and carefully along the rail area and wipe the excess glue onto a sheet of paper.
The Final Task
Once your rails are in place and have had a minute to dry, go ahead and carefully slide your top into place. Then carefully remove it. Next, run your fingers along the sides of the top that slide into the rail areas and remove any glue. Do this a dozen or more times. This will clear the rail area of any excess glue and help set your box perfectly for drying overnight. Do this one more time , drop your bit tray into the chest, and then just slide your top on and let the box dry overnight. If you cleaned up all the excess glue, the top should slide off effortlessly.
Put It All Away
Once your chest has had a chance to dry overnight, you can place all of your cards, dice, and bits into your new chest. There is also enough clearance to store your game manual inside the chest. I prefer to place my manual below the top tray. It simplifies closing the lid.