How to Make My Very Favorite Box (of All Time!)

comments (19) May 11th, 2009     

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Jeff_Rudell Jeffery Rudell, contributor
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Beautiful faux bois (literally false wood or woodgrain) paper turns my favorite box pattern into a gift in itself.
My favorite part of this design is the way in which the box blossoms when opened. What a perfect way for a box to feature the gift it contains.
Hambly also makes a complementary woodgrain design on transparent plastic out of which I made a small shade for a votive candle.
Beautiful faux bois (literally false wood or woodgrain) paper turns my favorite box pattern into a gift in itself.

Beautiful faux bois (literally "false wood" or woodgrain) paper turns my favorite box pattern into a gift in itself.

Photo: Jeff Rudell
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We've all seen it at one time or another: a child opens a beautifully wrapped gift and ends up playing with the box and the wrapping much more than the toy it contained. I never outgrew this particular childhood propensity but have, instead, brought with me into adulthood my love of boxes, containers, vessels, cartons, and crates. While I have a bookshelf full of reference materials containing packaging designs and patterns, my very favorite box of all time and the one I use with the greatest frequency when making boxes to give gifts in, boxes to keep tools in, boxes to hold photographs (yes, I still keep my photos in boxes—but such pretty boxes!) is this pattern, drawn from a small party-favor box I found in the trash outside of Grand Central Terminal. 

Setting aside for a moment the fact that I was Dumpster-diving outside of Grand Central Terminal, I quickly fell in love with the design and am delighted to be able to share it with you all here. The pattern itself is quite simple, so don't be intimidated by the look of it: The bottom of the box is a single sheet of stock, cleverly folded with four pleats to form a container. The top is a lesson in elegant and efficient design—a simple matter of four sides folded over four flaps to interlock the whole piece in place.

This project is actually a prototype for a client who is exploring possible packaging for a line of candles they hope to manufacture. My suggestion to the client was a wonderful woodgrain design I found at Hambly Screen Prints. They offer an exciting range of woodgrain colors (white! green! blue!) in addition to a more traditional wood-toned palette. They even offer a woodgrain pattern screened onto sheets of transparent plastic, which I put to use as a simple but charming mini-hurricane shade for a votive candle. If, as they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery, these great papers (familiar to the world of scrapbookers, I'm sure, but relatively new to me) are a grand tip-of-the-hat to Mother Nature.

One note of caution before applying this pattern template to your own project. The illustrations for the top and the bottom of the box are drawn on a 1-inch grid to help give you a sense of how the various components (sides, top, bottom, flaps, etc.) are proportioned and the manner in which they fit together. You can alter these proportions to suit your needs. However, REMEMBER to always make one adjustment that is NOT reflected in the patterns: in order for your top to fit squarely on your bottom, you need about 1/4 inch difference in size between the two pieces. In other words, the bottom of the box needs to be just a tiny bit smaller than the top for them to fit together properly. Don't fret; this can actually be accomplished when you score your template (before folding it). For example, when scoring the template for the bottom of the box, I usually score along the INSIDE edge of the lines. When scoring the template for the top of the box, I usually score along the OUTSIDE edges of the lines. When foldered together, these small adjustments are just enough to ensure that the two components fit together snugly but not too tightly.

Hambly has tons more papers (in some really unusual and very hip patterns), so check them out when you have a chance.

Craft on!


The pattern for this box is quite simple. You may download a scale model of the box top here and box bottom here.


Begin by cutting your templates from a medium-weight stock. I used a piece of watercolor paper. I suggest drawing all of the score and fold lines on both sides of your templates, especially if you plan on covering your box with a decorative paper.

 


I used double-sided adhesive sheets to affix my decorative papers to my box. Known as Duo-Tak or Twin-Tak, these sheets are available from New York Central Art Supply.

 


After applying the Duo-Tak to my Hambly paper, I trimmed it to fit the areas of my box and then carefully pressed it into position.

 


The corners of the box fold inward, like pleats, and so I chose a gold-on-brown paper on them. For the rest of my box exterior, I chose a brown-on-brown design.

 


After carefully positioning most of the pieces in place on the box bottom, I added the final sheet, which covered the last side AND the center of the box bottom, all at once.


Once the exterior of your box is decorated, turn the model over and score the back as indicated in the template. A bone creaser is ideal for this task.

 


Using a straightedge as a guide, gently fold and crease your model as indicated by your score marks: The sides of the model fold UPWARD; the corner pleats fold INWARD.

 


This image shows the completed box bottom and illustrates the manner in which the side pleats fold inward toward the inside of the box.

 


For the top of my box, I again applied the Hambly woodgrain paper (but only on the areas that would show; other areas I left unadorned).

 


As with the bottom of the box, score the inside of the box top and precrease and prefold the components as indicated.

 


Assembly of the box top is simple: Fold all sides upward, fold all flaps inward, and then fold the tops of all the sides down (over the flaps) to lock them in place.


A detail shows how the mitered flaps fit nicely into the inside corner of the box top and "lock" in place: No glue is necessary.

 


When all three sides are folding inward, fold in the fourth and final side (the long one). This final piece covers all of the mitered pieces inside the box top and holds them in place.

 


Depending on the weight of the paper stock you use, you may need to trim slightly this final piece to assure that it lies squarely in place.


The finished box top looks great, is structurally sound and quite sturdy, and will wear well through years of use.

 


Hambly also makes a plastic tranparency in the same great pattern, so I used it here to make a charming shade for a (recycled!) candle holder and a tiny tea light.

 


Here is the finished piece, wrapped in a pretty ribbon. Trust me, this is one gift where the package will be as treasured as the present it contains.

 


When the box top is removed, the box bottom opens like a flower to showcase its contents. Here the gold-on-brown side pleats add an unexpected flourish to your package.

 

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Comments (19)

craftybegonia writes: Very nice and stylish!
Posted: 5:15 pm on June 5th
Jiyaa_Box writes: I made an exploding box today similar to this but I will have to try this template. Please see my blog http://jiyaabox.wordpress.com/
Posted: 8:55 pm on April 11th
NancyWard writes: Hi!

Today on my blog I posted a link to this tutorial.

Would you let me know if that's OK?

Thanks,

Nancy Ward
http://paperfriendly.blogspot.com
Posted: 9:49 am on June 21st
BirthdayFavorBox writes: Beautiful Box that does not need glue. Nice tall size
Posted: 3:44 pm on June 14th
onejoanne writes: Jeffery, all the kudos have been given, I think! It's a really great box; you nailed it, for sure. I have questions. I would like to make decorative storage boxes for my daughter and daughter-in-law for Christmas. Couldn't I use the pattern for the top of this one for the bottom too? Again, very stylish box as is - I'll be using it as you've presented it too.
Posted: 11:14 pm on December 15th
LunarFaith writes: my coming sunday project ~YaYYs
Posted: 3:35 am on June 5th
myDIYweddingday writes: Oh, this project is so great! We linked to it on http://mydiyweddingday.com/. Thanks!
Posted: 2:43 pm on May 19th
cadiddle writes: THAT CERTAINLY IS A GREAT BOX IDEA JEFFREY.
I HAVE A REALLY GREAT TIP FOR YOU, IF YOU CAN'T FIND THE PAPERS. GO TO YOUR NEAREST HOME IMPROVEMENT CENTER AND LOOK IN THE WALL PAINT SECTION. YOU'LL FIND A MULTITUDE OF GADGETS INCLUDING A ROLLER TO MAKE A WOOD PATTERN. USING THE ROLLER, SOME ACRYLIC PAINT, AND BROWN PAPER BAGS ( OR EVEN BROWN POSTAL PAPER) YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN FAUX BOIS.
Posted: 10:23 pm on May 16th
beaderonboard writes: What a wonderful box.
You always have the best ideas.
Thank You so much for sharing.
Posted: 7:26 pm on May 16th
sunrainor writes: Having made thousands of boxes in my career, I can say, this is an excellent box - especially the no glue part! I did a corporate gift recently which I wanted a 'ta-dah' box like this for, well next time and

even though I know we often 'had' to use glue because of needing to use as little card as possible (expensive handmade paper-card) and needing a box that doesn't pop open.

I still LOVE it - thousands of thanks:)
Posted: 5:28 pm on May 16th
JohnWLennon writes: OMG....I'm a paper addict and I also collect boxes, they make wonderful on the spur of the moment gifts! I have card stock in every imaginable pattern and now I know how I'm going to spend the remainder of the weekend.

Thanks Jeffery!!

Added tip: An empty fine point pen makes an excellent scoring tool and it's a great way to recycle something.
Posted: 5:20 pm on May 16th
LaDiggity writes: Utterly fantastic...Will be made over and over, faux bois or other. Makes me want to hit a few dumpsters myself! Thank you thank you thank you!
Posted: 4:47 pm on May 16th
annquill writes: What a great project - and well worth the dumpster dive! The box is cool and the beautiful ribbon adds just the right touch.
Posted: 10:09 am on May 13th
mgb4 writes: Thank you so much for this post! I am not particularly a crafter, but I am looking for a faux bois box so I searched google images and this came up! The color combination is stunning and the instructions actually seem easy. I just had to join to post this comment since this project is so charming. Any chance in finding these boxes in a chic little shop in my neighborhood in Brooklyn soon? You should sell these!!
Posted: 6:43 pm on May 12th
AWilcox writes: This box is GORGEOUS!!! Too bad you hadn't posted this earlier, every holiday, birthday, and Mother's Day, I give CASH to my MOM, because that is what she wants. She likes the GREEN because she can shop for herself, therefore I always try to find ways to gift wrap the CASH in a unique and precious way, THIS BOX would have been that special gift box to put the CASH!!! But hey, there is alway next year, or XMAS. Thanks again for the amazing BOX you have created. It's beautiful!
Posted: 5:49 pm on May 12th
EEQamouse writes: Very cool idea! I'm going to try this for some graduation gifts I'm giving!
Posted: 7:24 pm on May 11th
Sweet_Meats writes: I agree, packaging and presentation is so important! Gift giving is about the experience, and not just the thing. I love how the bottom of this box "blooms." This is not project I would make for just anyone, though, as it seems rather time intensive.
Posted: 2:51 pm on May 11th
WendyQM writes: Stunning! What a beautiful gift idea!
Posted: 10:01 am on May 11th
Sweet_Dee writes: Wow, great box design! Will have to try!
Posted: 2:38 am on May 11th
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