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I just recently got the game "carcassonne" (similar to settlers) for my birthday. It had a lot of extensions and it was all packed into a huge ugly cardboardbox with plastic interior. So i decided to make an appropriate box for the most awesome game in the world. In this instructable i will show you how i refurbished an old wooden box to put my carcassonne game inside. 

You need:
  • an old wooden box
  • wood stain
  • a brown watercolor pencil
  • a dremel with a carving tip
  • sand paper
  • transparent varnish
  • not necessary but super useful: an electric sander
  • patience!

Step 1: Sand the Old Varnish Away

Make a short appraisal of your box and check if it closes properly and if it has any other defects that need to be fixed.

Then, sand the old varnish from the box. It's much faster and easier if you use an electric sander (grinding machine). I used a small electric hand sander. The ones you can attach the different sand papers with velcro tape. If you don't have an electric sander, make sure you use a wooden block or something flat to sand the box, otherwise you might get ugly dents into the surface. I would recommend you to sand the whole box, even though some parts of it might still look nice. That way you can make sure that the box will look uniformly once you're finished.

My box did not close properly, so i used the electric sander to grind a part of the lid down, so it would close again. 

In this step I also removed the pins from the hinges, which make it much easier to work with the box. In my case it was super easy to remove the pins, since the vibrations of the electric grinder basically removed the pins by itself. Otherwise you can use a paperclip to push the pins to the other side of the hinge.

Step 2: Draw the Logo Onto the Lid

  1. Print the logo you want from the internet. I wanted the letter "C" from the carcassonne which is on the back of every card of the game.
  2. Then, use an old trick: take a very soft pencil and cover the backside of your logo (see image).
  3. After that, put the logo onto your box and follow the lines of the logo with your pencil. Make sure you dont move the logo while you are drawing. Don't use too much force! It would break the wooden surface.
  4. Carefully remove the logo and see if it was transferred onto the box.
  5. Add details with the pencil.

Step 3: Carve the Logo

Take a dremel with a grinding tip and slowly follow the drawn lines on the box. It needs quite some force to keep the dremel stable in your hands. I would recommend to try this first on a piece of waste wood.

I followed the lines twice, since i wanted the grooves to be quite deep. Once you're done, use an erase to erase the pencil lines.

Step 4: Color the Box

Use wood stain (diluted with water) to color the box. I would recommend to try different dilutions on a piece of waste wood, so see the effect first. You need to let it dry before you can tell how dark it will be.

I used a sponge to spread the wood stain onto the box. Once you start to put it on, make sure you do it in one move, otherwise you will see ugly borders of the stain. You will notice that the water causes the grooves in the logo to swell, decreasing the relief effect. That's ok! Because as soon as you are done with the wood stain, you take a watercolor pencil (preferably brown) and follow the grooves of the logo again! This will squeeze the water out of the grooves and make the logo darker. Your grooves are back and nicely dark brown colored. :) This is because the watercolor pencil is "dissolved" by the wet surface you are painting on. Afterwards it will give a "burned" look of your logo which looks quite cool I think!

Let it dry overnight. After it was dryed, I repeated the part with the water color pencil once more (in dry state) to make the lines even clearer and the grooves a bit deeper.

If you prefer the box to be darker, you can repeat this step once more.

Step 5: Varnish

Once you are happy with the look of your box, its time to put the varnish on. This is done in cycles. The first layer of varnish does not really reflect the light so nicely yet, since its not covering the surface completely. It took 3 cycles of varnishing for me until i got a nice shiny look of the surface of my box!

After each layer you need to let it dry for 24 hours. After that, you have to gently grind the surface in order for the next varnish layer to attach nicely onto the old one. 

To prevent the hinges from being filled with varnish, you can put paper clips into the hinges while painting it.

Step 6: Reassemble & Enjoy!

Once it's dry, you can reassemble the box -> put the pins back into the hinges. I also sewed a little bag for my carcassonne cards. And i cut my points board in the middle. Don't cut it all the way through, this way you can fold it and it will fit into the box :).
<p>Nice job. I'd suggest getting a box big enough that you don't have to cut the scoring track - after all with all of the expansions out there, and the catapult, one needs a big box. </p>
It came out really well, kudos. Great game, too.
Thanks a lot! I LOVE the game! :)
How clever to do this with a dremel! I don't know what I will make, but I'm definately going to use your idea :D
Thank you! Let me know when it worked out! Hope it turns out nicely!
For those that don't have, can't afford a dremel and have a very steady hand, considering using a pointed soldering iron, I do similar designs, it reduces the number of steps as it burns the wood a very dark brown as you draw, stay on too long and it will go black though. Plus it smells amazing as you scorch the wood.
Very chique!
Thank you!
Very nice! I am defiantly going to try that logo transfer method on my next puzzle box.
Cool! Let me know if it worked out!
Nice! I love carcassonne!
Thanks! Me too! It's just such a cool game!
That's a nice job, well done.
Thanks a lot!
Nice work!
Thank you!

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Bio: I love making things! I have a lot of ideas but I don't have time to realize all of them. I am normally too ... More »
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