Practically everyone, by now, knows of Wyrmwood Gaming and their amazing dice trays. I’ve loved working with them and have been blown away by their products.
Today, we look at a direct competitor: NerdistWoodworking – an Arkansas based start-up company breaking into the quality wood gaming accessory world. This is the first product of theirs I’ve had in my hand, so lets take a close look.
This tray arrived very quickly and, first impressions being what they are, it was quite lovely on first inspection. The tray came with a letter as well, to add to the theme and “unboxing” experience. As noted with DnDiceUK these small gestures more than pay for themselves.
The page is pretty simple, just offering thanks and an invitation to contact Nerdist Woodworking for any future needs, as well as a 10% off promo code one could use on their next product.
I will say this is a very slight missed opportunity. The extra work to use a beautiful wax seal and the fine paper, interesting font, and great print job – it’s all wonderful. It wouldn’t take too much additional effort to include, on this sheet, a quick blurb about the wood the product is made from! People really enjoy that sort of thing, as well as care/maintenance tips. Luckily, these things are readily available online, but with this gorgeous platform to present it from – I hope such things are included in later iterations!
First and foremost – this tray is made of Padauk wood built on a base of Sanded Pine plywood (a composite wood that is both strong and relatively cheap). You may have heard this combination before, as it’s the exact same you’ll get from the competition, save for DogMight games, who cater more toward throwing the exotic wood, whole, into a CNC machine that cuts out the designs you want. It might mean the entire thing is the rare wood, but you absolutely pay for that luxury in the end – sometimes 10x more than this tray and 5x more than Wyrmwood.
There is a wonderful uniformity that is extremely important in luxury gaming products, it’s clear that time and effort has been put into the tray. From the near perfect positioning of the rubber feet to the lack of cracks or burs in the plywood – it’s very well executed.
Likewise, the African Padauk wood framing is well done too. Padauk is a pale-orange to deep red/brown wood that darkens over time, sometimes turning a little purple. I’ve never had one of these types of woods in my collection before, but I would certainly recommend it to anyone who has interest in the nearly-blood-red color.
The rubber feet on the bottom are very small and clear disks about 1/8 of an inch thick, meaning the tray will be low-profile on your table, so don’t expect to store anything but at most a few sheets of paper under it during your gaming.
But we all know from my previous reviews, that these little feet are a tiny investment that makes a huge difference – not having the base of the tray slide along the surface of your table will be of paramount importance considering the accents.
On each of the four corners along the bottom , the most dreaded place for most woodworkers due to chipping, cracking, and abrasion, are metal corner accents. These both look pretty stylish and offer a great deal additional protection over the wood itself. Likewise, it offers some leniency for bonding the wood – so overall these should add some bonus resilience compared to similar products.
This particular tray comes with a rich milk-chocolate colored leather lining. It’s pretty good, very tough stuff. This surface showed no signs of wear after about a dozen rolls of a metal d20. The leather might not be incredibly thick, but it should serve well enough for all but extreme cases.
I’ll be up-front: we’ve seen this design before. It’s a fairly standard copy of Wyrmwood’s offering, but there are key differences.
For starters, the rubber feet are smaller and attached with a chemical bonding agent instead of the mechanical fastenings I raved on in my Wyrmwood review. The accents change the style substantially from the clean “speak for itself” look seen from Wyrmwood to a more antiquated look. Beyond that:
Do you notice anything looking at the tray in profile? No? The thing appears massive but is nearly the exact same size as the trays from Wyrmwood. Let me explain.
In our preview review for Wyrmwood, we measured that the tray stood about 1.5 inches off the table – we find a similar thing here:
But when you look inside the tray, you’ll figure out where this seemingly illusion comes from.
While the Wyrmwood dice tray measures about 3/4″ deep, the Nerdist Woodworking tray is more than double that!
The increased depth is a huge boon for additional security when rolling, but the dice look like convicts in a prison yard to me. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, but it does drastically change the look and feel of the dice tray in a very real way. You’ve Been Warned.
The additional real estate lends to allowing a comfortable pit for three sets of dice or a crowded four sets if you’re so inclined – so if you’re anything of a dice fanatic like I am, you may enjoy the extra space, even if it makes your dice look a little lonely.
Room For Improvement
The adage: “You get what you pay for” generally rings true, but I cannot adequately express how impressed I was with this dice tray. Like any start-up, there is room to grow and change, and with a little more TLC my few issues can be ironed out:
The leather is seated very well on the dice slot side of the box, held down firmly by the bridge of padauk that spans the tray. The wood itself is sanded well, but I did notice the top-most edges, the edges people will touch the most, were quite rough still. I think a finer grit finishing sandpaper might be called for (possibly a 2,000-3,000 grit), as little burs and rough patches can still be felt through the finishing.
Along the inner edge, the leather is relatively well laid, but still – it shows some tearing where the cut was made (seen here along the bottom) and there is a very slight seam visible. The inner lining of the tray will have eyes on it 100% of the time, so such things might stand out.
During my unboxing video, this one caught my eye immediately. It’s plain as day that the leather lining was cut 1/16 of an inch too short when it was glued to the bottom of the tray. I know from experience that juggling rare wood, expensive leather, and hand inspecting these trays is a tall order for a well established company, let alone a fledgling one. This, however, strikes out like a snake from nearly any angle.
Bonus: Roll Test and Unboxing Videos!
Guys and Gals, this tray is $50 at the time of this review ($45 for a felt lining). The Red Oak version is $30! Thirty dollars! That’s nearly $50 cheaper than what you’d get from their main competitor, an incredible and shocking value.
I would very much like to see Nerdist Woodworking change their design to fit there own wants/desires. I’d love to see something new and innovative or even just a simple change on this already well established design. It’s clear they have the means and capabilities down pat to offer practically anything, so seeing a design so similar to another is a little hard to swallow.
Having said that, past some small missteps with the leather lining, this tray was incredible. For the price some people drop on large pizza, you can have this gorgeous tray to accompany you to your tabletop ventures. The very idea of it confuses me, but so long as Nerdist can keep it up – the sky could be their limit! Well done.
I don’t always advocate rolling, but when I do… be sure you have to Drop the Die.
Review by JB Little, Follow me on twitter for more product highlights and dice giveaways!