Box Making

I sometimes make a presentation box to contain one of my artists’ books so I thought I’d share a method of making one. This box is used to hold a recent book ‘Strandline Kelp’ I’ve made using my photographs. The book is a ledger type book with natural raffia side binding.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED. A sheet of book board. I’ve used 2mm thick but 3mm is fine too; paper or book cloth to cover the box; PVA glue and brush to apply it; a strong bond glue like UHU; metal ruler and scalpel for cutting; I also have a clear plastic ruler that I use for measuring; scissors; bone folder (though you can get away without one); newsprint paper for gluing on (I wouldn’t recommend using actual newspaper as I’ve found the print can come off and ruin your work)

It might be an idea to begin with a small box that isn’t quite as long and narrow as this one as it’s not a very easy one to start with, but the technique will be exactly the same.

With the sheet of book board, work out the box size and the height that you would like the box to be.

Measure and cut the base board to size using scalpel and metal ruler.

Measure and cut the sides of the box. I’m working on the box lid here.

Cut 2 thicknesses off 1 end of both the short cards so that the corners will join.

Start gluing the sides with the strong bond glue. Firmly hold in place till it sets.

Wipe away excess glue.

You can see here why the widths of the short ends were reduced by 2 thicknesses of card to allow for a join.

Using paper or book cloth, make 4 squares to reinforce the box corners.

Stick in place with Uhu and firm into the corners.

Using sandpaper smooth the edges of the box.

To measure the height of the covering material cut a long strip of paper.

Fold it over the box and firm it down so that the shape of the box can be seen.

Allow for extra that folds into the interior and over the exterior box edges.

Measure the paper length.

That is the width that you will need to cut the covering material.

The length of the covering material will need to be as long as the 4 sides of the box + a bit extra. This is mine ready with a strip of chiyogami paper attached.

Using the template mark where the bottom and top of the box will lie along the full length of the covering material.

(Sorry, I don’t have photos of this bit) Starting at one end of the covering material, and before gluing, roll the box down along the 2 marked lines. Mark each box edge as you roll so that you will have 4 sections marked – 2 long sides and 2 short sides. Glue the first section of covering material with PVA glue just where the box sides will have contact. Carefully line up the box side so that exactly fits within your marks. Press down and smooth to make sure there are no air pockets. Glue the next section and roll the box making sure you keep within your marks. Continue till all 4 sides of the box are glued to the covering material. Trim the end off leaving 10mm. Glue and fold over the final box edge.

On the closed side of the box, cut small triangles at each corner.

With PVA glue stick the long sides first and then the short. Make sure to pull the material tight over the edges of the box.

Now it’s time to cover the open side of the box.

Lay it on its side .

On a long side, precisely line up the ruler with the inside edge of the book board, draw a line.

Repeat this at the other long side edges, then cut. It’s probably easier with scissors.

Without gluing fold the cover material into the box and crease where the edges are.

Hold back the 3 sections while you glue the 1st long side.

Then carefully fold it into position on the inside of the box smoothing as you go.

Slightly miter the corners of the short sides of the material, glue and smooth into the box.

Repeat the process for the bottom half of the box, the base of which will need to be smaller than the lid base by 4 book board thicknesses on 1 short and 1 long side.

Line the inside of the box base and lid with a material of your choice using PVA glue.

The bases of both lid and box bottom need to be covered.

Cut a piece of book board to fit the base exactly.

Cover it as you would a book cover – described in my earlier post ‘Making a Concertina Photobook’

Fix firmly using UHU glue. Keep it under a weight while the glue sets. I’ve added the book title to the lid too.

I made quite a few gluey boxes with ill fitting coverings before getting to a standard that I think is good enough, so it’s just practise really. Happy box making.


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