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I’m on a bit of a box kick lately, as it’s simple enough to do and doesn’t need any complicated materials. The latest was to make a hexagonal box that doesn’t need much cutting, constructing or lining up edges to glue them carefully together like in tutorials that use the traditional cube-like construction method.

The theory used in this tutorial can be applied to any shape with even-number sides and straight edges, just choose your shape and adapt the general principle to add the sides to your shape. Odd-number sides will be possible, but may require some more measurements and a protractor or right-angle ruler to accurately account for making the side wall sections join where they should. However, I have dyscalculia, so don’t look at me for anything complicated.

Step 1: You Will Need:

  • Cardboard
  • Glue
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Scoring tool (or a blunt pointy object like a letter opener or butter knife)
  • Scissors or craft knife
  • Protractor or compass

Step 2: How to Make a Hexagon: the Protractor Method

There are a few ways to make a hexagon, but you’re going to need it to have all the sides and angles the same size, so freehand is out. I’m sure there may be a mathematical way to work it out and draw it with only a ruler and a pencil, but the dyscalculia point applies here, too. There’s a method of using a compass (drawing tool, not navigational) and pencil, which is simple in theory, but can lead to madness when the points don’t meet up (which is surprisingly often).

Frankly, the sanest and most accurate method I find for myself is to use a protractor to get the correct angles and a ruler and pencil to draw the lines. I’ll explain that method first, and then I’ll explain the compass method afterwards.

Decide how big you want your box to be at the widest point, then divide that number by 2, then add on the height of your box sides to find out how long your base hexagon sides will be. So, for a 6cm box with 2cm sides, your sides hexagon sides will be 5cm - 6cm divided by 2 is 3cm, plus 2cm comes to 5cm.

Take your card and draw a line 5cm long. Then position your protractor at the end of this line, and make a mark at 120° (the inside angle of the corners of a hexagon). Line your ruler up so it connects the end of your 5cm line and the 120° mark you made. Draw another 5cm line, and repeat the process until you're joining the end of your last line with the other end of the first line you made. If it's all gone to plan, that new line will automatically be 5cm. If it's not, sacrifice a rubber chicken and try again. Or try the compass method.

Step 3: How to Make a Hexagon: the Compass Method

For the compass method, I recommend that you make sure your compass is sturdy and not loose as it may reduce accuracy if the distance you set it to changes due to movement. Make sure your pencil is sharp, and don’t press too hard so the lead doesn’t wear down quickly. It’s surprising how even a tiny change can throw the whole thing out and result in points not lining up.

Put your pencil into the compass and line the tip up with the point. Make sure it’s in securely, and then set it so the sharp point and the pencil lead are 5cm apart.

Make sure that the points are still 5cm apart on your compass, then place the point anywhere on the edge of your circle and draw a short line across where the pencil meets the circle. You should have a little curved cross. Check your compass is still at 5cm, then place the point in the centre of the cross and repeat the process until you have 6 curved crosses, If your compass has behaved, the final short line should cross the first hole you made with the compass so all are an equal distance apart. If it doesn’t, then your compass may be too loose or your pencil is too soft.

Assuming your crosses are all fine, you need to take your ruler and pencil and join each one up with the one next to it to get your hexagon.

I know what you’re thinking, that the compass method seems so much simpler and quicker than the protractor method. It is. When it works. If you go with this method, I hope you’re one of the blessed people that this Just Works™ for. Me? I’m just doomed. No matter how careful I am, 3 times out of 4 the points don’t line up. Though ironically, the one I drew for this guide went right first time.

Step 4: How to Make Your Box Base Template

Up front, I'm going to say that your box will end up a little bit smaller than the size you planned (a 6cm wide box will end up as 5.6cm). Because maths and angles and the will of the Elder Gods. But mostly maths. Which is rough, because at least you can appease Elder Gods with a sacrifice or something, whereas maths remains cold and implacable.

There is probably a way you can work it out mathematically so you can get the exact dimensions for the box size you want using this method that may be simple. I don’t know it, but if you work it out, please share! If you do want an exact box, I'll add a template and some quick instructions later in this guide because I'm sure some people will prefer that method.

I personally prefer this method, because in all seriousness it hurts my brain less to get measurements out of the way with and then be able to construct it with just drawing lines. I find it’s all contained, and the lines join up better, which makes for easier assembly.

The first thing to note is you will need 2 hexagons of the exact same size. One for the base, and one to be used later for the lid. Take one hexagon for your base, and put the other aside for later. To be honest, if you're planning on making ore than one of these, it's much quicker to make one hexagon from scratch that you can cut out and then draw around to get hexagons for your actual boxes.

Create a strip of card that is 2cm wide and roughly 10cm long (or longer if your box sides are bigger than that). This is going to act as your ruler to create the sides inside the hexagon, and another hexagon that forms the bottom of the box, Take your card and line it up so the bottom is flush with the edge of the hexagon. The most accurate way to do this is to butt the hexagon against a raised edge with your ‘ruler’ on top - a tray or something like that works well. With your pencil, draw a line along the top edge across the whole hexagon. Repeat this for all the sides.

Now you should have a hexagon inside that effectively has a 2cm border around it.

Next, you need to draw in the sides. If you want to make it a little easier, then mark the six corners in pencil as A to F going in the same direction (clockwise in my photos and diagram). Take your ruler and position it over corner A and corner C. The distance between corner A and the edge of the outer hexagon should be 2cm. Draw a line that joins corner A to the edge of the outer hexagon, and the same for edge C. Repeat this for C to E, E to A, B to D, D to F and F to B until you have a layout that looks like some geometric art.

Now to construct it.

Step 5: Constructing Your Box

At this point, use your scoring tool (this makes folding easier as everything will want to fold in the direction you’re pushing it) with your ruler along the edges that will be folded. This is all the edges of the inner hexagon, and ONE side of the side panels (the other will be cut). It doesn’t matter which side, as long as it’s the same side. Pick your side, score it, turn the hexagon clockwise to the next side panel, score the same side, and so on.

With your cutting implement of choice, cut around the edges of the outer hexagon. Then snip up the side panel edges that haven’t been scored, careful not to cut past the corner of the inner hexagon. Take the opportunity here to use your eraser to remove any obvious pencil marks so the inside of your box will be neater, you don’t need them anymore anyway.

Now fold all the scored lines inwards and loosely fold the box together, holding the tabs in place on the inside wall of the box so they’re lined up and you can check the edges are neat. If a bit of the tab peeks out over the top of the box edge, then give it a little trim so it’s neater.

Once you’re happy, add some glue to the back of the tabs and fix them firmly on the inside of the side panels. Put your hexagon box base aside and move on to the lid.

Step 6: How to Make Your Box Lid

The method is exactly the same as making the box base. The only difference is that this needs to be a fraction larger than the box base so that it will fit neatly over it. This means instead of using your 2cm strip of card to mark out the hexagon inside, you'll need another strip of card that is 1.9cm wide. This 1mm makes the side slightly shorter, but the hexagon slightly bigger, and allows the lid to fit on the base.

If you'd like a shorter side on your lid, then draw it up as you did the base and use your 1.9mm card strip so you get the correct sized inner hexagon, THEN you can draw the sides down to your desired size before cutting it all out.

Once this is done, your lid should fit nicely on your base, and you have a basic hexagon box to put all kinds of things into.

Step 7: If You Want to Make Your Box Dimensions an Exact Size...

This may be a preferable method for many of you. The biggest reason I don't like this method is because you have to make two different-sized hexagons, and we're talking a difference of 1mm, which is fiddly and annoying and easy to pick up the wrong one an do the wrong things to it... essentially, my brain prefers the other method, and as crafting is about having fun...

So, draw up two hexagons. As you're adding your sides outside your hexagon (remember to draw your hexagon away from the edge so you can fit the sides in!), this is quite literally the width you want divided by 2 - for our 6cm box, that's a 3cm hexagon side. The second hexagon needs to be 1mm bigger, so 3.1cm sides are called for. I would label them in pencil so you know which is which. Also mark out your corners A to F if it helps.

Using the A to C, C to E, etc. method, line your ruler up across the hexagon smaller base hexagon. Draw a 2cm line out from each point. Repeat this until each point has two lines coming out of it. Join the edges of each side together with a pencil and ruler - these lines should also be 3cm wide like the hexagon sides. You don't have to join the sides together with a short line in the diagram, but it might help with cutting.

For the lid, do the exact same, but the edge of the side panel should be 3.1cm. You can also choose whatever height you want for the lid sides to be, though I'd recommend it being at the very least a little shorter than the box base so you have something to grip with your nails to get it open. You probably don't want to go less than 5mm, either, as the lid won't be as secure. But essentially draw your lines out from the points to be the size you want the lid sides to be.

Scoring, cutting, folding and constructing is exactly the same as in the other method.

Step 8: Want to Double Wall Your Box?

First of all, yes, those pictures are for a standard square box. This is because by the time I remembered I wanted to do this section, I'd already put all my stuff away. I'll update the images in the near future with actual hexagons, but I already had the images from a previous Instructable, and it illustrates the principle of double walling just fine for now. Plus, the diagram is at least correct.

Be aware that if you do this, you’ll need to make sure you’re drawing your hexagons a decent distance from the edge of the card to account for adding extra sides for the double wall. It's pretty annoying when you go to add the extra and find you're 3mm short on space.

Essentially, draw up your hexagon box layout as previously detailed. Once you're done, you need to add an extra flap to each of the side flaps. The easiest way to do this is to use your handy piece of 2cm card, line it up with the side of the hexagon, and draw a line along the top. Then simply use your ruler to extend the line of side of the existing flap so it meets up with this new line. It doesn't matter if your pencil lines go over on this flap as those sections will get cut away.

Once it's all cut out and glued together as above, you should be left with a box that has flaps sticking up from all sides. Fold them inwards so they meet the wall on the inside, and test to make sure they all fit okay. You might find you need to trim a sliver off each of the sides that will fit into the corner so they have enough room to fit together. Once you're confident it all fits, glue on the inside of these flaps, then fold them down into the box again and press the sides firmly together. Hey-presto, double walled box.

Step 9: Finishing Your Box Off

Your box is technically finished but probably looks a bit plain (unless you used patterned card), so you may want to add some decoration and embellishment. You can go wild, put stickers on it, ribbons, decoupage or simple shapes and patterns. I used a pompom just because it amused me and it makes an interesting handle, a strip of card to mimic a ribbon, and some marbled card.

If you want some extra fun, I recommend marbling card using the shaving foam and food dye method detailed by craft within reach. So much fun.

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Bio: Crafting as a means to distract myself from the horror show that is 2016. If I'm making things or plotting to make things, it ... More »
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