I have a need for some shelves/cubbies to help organize my craft workroom in the basement. I noticed that the boxes I had accumulating in my recycling bin were all sturdy and of uniform size--roughly 8 by 12 by 5 inches. I figured that would be perfect.
This project was inspired by all the wonderful hexagonal shelves I have been seeing lately all over the internet but I needed a quick, no fuss version. Each unit took less than 5 or 10 minutes of effort plus the dry time for the glue. In retrospect, if I had thought to pull out my glue gun, I could have drastically cut the dry time.
Step 1: Materials:
White glue or glue gun
My boxes had those little cardboard cartons that ultra pasteurized milk and baby formula come in. If you shop in bulk, you probably have some size box that you get on a regular basis. You could also check with a local school cafeteria to see if they have a usable size (they probably get daily deliveries for school lunch supplies) or check with a small local grocery store (they usually don't have a problem with someone carting off their trash for them).
The important part is that they be uniform in size. This allow you to use the box itself to determine the size of the cubbie instead of having to do a lot of measuring, cutting, and assembling.
Any glue that you have on hand will probably work but you should make sure that it is appropriate for working on paper and cardboard. Glue stick is not strong enough.
Step 2: Prepping the Boxes
Open both ends of the box but leave the sides.
You can cut off the flaps from one end of the box but I chose to leave them on. I think leaving them on will increase the durability of my cubbies.
Measure the width of the side of the box. I am referring to the larger of the sides that connect the 2 open ends. Refer to the picture if this sounds confusing. Make a mark at the half way point in 2 places. Connect the 2 marks with a straight edge and draw a line across the box and both flaps. Do this on both large sides.
Step 3: Cutting the Boxes
I ran my craft knife lightly along the line on the box (both sides). This is just to score the box so that it would fold where I wanted it to. Do NOT cut all the way through the box.
On the 4 flaps (2 on each end), you want to cut all the way through the cardboard.
Pull the box so that it creases along the score marks.
Step 4: Front Edge of the Cubbie
I thought that cutting the flaps off the top of the box would allow more wear and tear on the finished project. I opted to fold the flaps (all 6 of them) to the inside of the box and glue them in place.
I took the picture when I was working on the first box. It is actually easier if you only glue them 2 at a time. That way you can hold them in place until the glue sets.
Step 5: Back of the Cubbie
The flaps of the bottom of the box will become the back of the cubbie. You may want to draw a template for the angled sides but I just eyeballed it. You do not need to worry about the actual number of degrees. Hexagonal boxes do not all have to have 6 congruent angles. (Sorry, I am a math teacher and I had to use the math term--most hex boxes I have seen have perfect 120 degree angles. Mine doesn't on purpose.)
Using the side flap of the original box and one of the half flaps on either side, glue the box so that the scored sides flare out equally on both sides. Use the template, if you made one, to make sure both angles match. Clamp with binder clips if you can find them.
Glue the remaining flaps in the same way. I also glued the flaps at the scored corners where they overlap naturally.
You should have a hexagon with 3 sets of parallel sides. (There goes the math teacher in me again.) There will probably be a gap in what will be the back of the cubbie. You can cover this with a scrap of extra cardboard. I left it without this cover because I just do not expect this to be a problem.
You want to let the glue dry completely before continuing. I found that it was easiest to stand the box up, put something heavy inside (constant pressure) and leave the house. If I am home I am constantly checking on them. They just need to be left alone.
Step 6: Final Assembly
The surfaces where the cubbies rest on each other need a hefty layer of glue. Clamp them together with binder clips if you can find them. Mine are still hiding from me.
The final arrangement will depend on how many more boxes I acquire and how much space I can clear off in my workroom.