I made the boxes from 3 mm cardboard, and covered all sides with printed paper to make them look good. I decided to make them different to make it easier to remember which one contains what. The boxes shown here are covered with an old tourist map and pages from a disintegrating Tintin album.
Step 1: Bring out the right tools
- cutting mat
- metal ruler
- sharp knife (I used both an X-acto knift and a carpet knife)
- brush to spread glue
- interfacing or similar to avoid glue sticking to stuff it shouldn't stick to
- a press is good, but if you don't have one a few heavy books or something like that also works
Step 2: Make the box sides
To make this box, I need a bottom, two side sides and two front/back sides.
Bottom: 15.5 x 15 cm
Front/back: 15.5 x 10.2 cm
Side: 14.6 x 10.2 cm
I'm making the bottom the size I want the finished box to be. The sides stand on the bottom piece, so the finished box will be the height of the side pieces plus the thickness of the bottom. I make the front and back sides the same width as the bottom. The width of the side sides will thus be the depth of the bottom piece minus twice the thickness of the cardboard used.
Step 3: Glue covering to sides
Apply glue to the correct side each piece and affix the covering as desired. To figure out which side is the correct side to put the glue on, check if your cardboard is bent. If you can see that your pieces are somewhat convex, apply the glue to the convex side. When the glue dries, it will shrink somewhat, making the piece less bent. Make sure the entire piece is covered, and make sure that 1 cm or so is sticking out at least along the side that will be towards the top of the box on the four side pieces.
Put the pieces on something flat (with interfacing in between, to avoid unwanted sticking) and put under pressure. Leave overnight.
Once dry, trim away unwanted cover material on all edges except the top edge. Here you fold along the edge and glue down. This will be the top edge of the box. Leave to dry. Cut away the surplus.
Step 4: Build the box
Take a side piece and apply glue to the bottom and the edge that will be towards the back side. Fit snugly with the covered side inwards and press down, making sure to make all edges align as well as possible. Repeat for the other side.
Take the front piece and apply glue to the bottom. Then apply glue to the front-facing edges of the sides. Fit the final piece with the covered sides inwards.
Your box is now in its final shape and needs to dry. Place an old folded newspaper or so on top of the box and then put gentle pressure on top (a few books or so). The newspaper is there to spread the weight to all sides even if all your sides are not of prefectly even height. Leave this to dry.
After drying, check all joints to verify that the glue has made contact. If not, put some glue in the crack with a piece of paper dipped in glue and then apply pressure again.
Step 5: Cover the outside of the box
After this has dried, trim the surplus covering material to make nice flaps. Glue these down on the adjacent box sides.
To cover the front and back of the box, cut two new pieces of covering, but make them the exact width of the box. Only leave material sticking out towards the bottom of the box. Glue these as the other two sides. Allow to dry.
Trim the surplus to make two new flaps towards the bottom. Make sure that these don't over lap the previous flaps. Glue them down.
Finally, cut out a new piece of covering that is exactly the same size as the bottom of the box and glue this to the box.