Introduction: 30-Minute Decorative Box (+ Hot Glue Tips)
As an engineering teacher, I sometimes assume my students can do things I have done a million times that it turns out they have never done before. These things become very apparent when we start building projects. Simple tasks like using masking tape (...don't even get me started...) and working with hot glue are two of the biggest tasks I always regret not reviewing before we jump into a project.
This Instructable walks you through how to create a quick and easy decorative box in addition to giving some pro tips for how to work with hot glue. It's a small project that can generally be made with scraps of materials you have lying around and is great to use as either a demo in front of the class or as an introductory project for students.
- Hot glue gun/glue sticks
- Thin wood (~1/8" thick)
- Fabric (for this project we used a faux leather + floral print)
- 2 small hinges
- Utility knife
Step 1: Cut Your Materials
For the box/cube design we made, you will need (6) 4"x4" pieces of thin wood. (Wood this thickness can be cut simply by scoring it several times with a utility knife until it is cut through.) Next, cut (4) pieces of the faux leather (each also 4"x4") and (1) 6" x 6" piece of your second fabric, as shown in the pictures above.
Step 2: Glue the Base Cube Design Together
The goal of this step is to put the base of your wooden box together (a cube shape minus the lid) using hot glue
Pro-tip #1: Hot glue guns are HOT at the metal tip. Be careful not to burn yourself when using a hot glue gun.
Pro-tip #2: The glue that comes out of a hot glue gun is also, you guessed it, HOT. If you touch this glue within the first 5-10 seconds of it coming out of the gun, you will likely burn your fingers. If you mistakenly touch hot glue, run your hand under cold water to help reduce the risk of having a lasting burn.
If you are assembly this project with others, have them hold your pieces in place while you apply the glue. The glue application does not need to be perfect (as shown), but you should try to avoid having large globs or gaps in your glue application.
Pro-tip #3: If you are working on this project alone, recognize the fact that you only have two hands. You won't be able to apply glue and hold two pieces of wood together at the same time. Instead, you can prop up one piece of the wood so you have only one job for each hand.
Step 3: Making the Lid
Since the lid will be open and closed, both sides need to be neatly covered with fabric. Lay your 4" x 4" wooden piece diagonally on the 6" x 6" piece of fabric as shown in the images. One corner at a time, fold the fabric onto the wood and secure with a dot of hot glue under each corner.
Pro-tip #4: Some fabric is very thin and very porous. If you try to press down on the fabric to adhere the fabric to the wood, the heat from the glue will push through the fabric and burn your finger. In situations like this, use something that glue will easily come off of (like a small, sturdy ruler) in place of your finger to press the fabric down onto the glue.
When all four corners have been glued in, check the edges to ensure there are no fabric gaps and add a small amount of glue to any open gaps if needed.
Step 4: Attaching the Hinges
Hinges are traditionally attached with screws, but when used with thin wood like we are using in this project, hot glue will work just fine. After deciding where you want your hinges to go (I recommend about a half-inch from the edge on both sides), apply a small dot of glue to each side of the things as shown. Take care to avoid getting any glue on the moving portion (middle) of the hinge.
Pro-tip #5: Just like when using fabric, using hot glue on thin metal can cause burns - or at a minimum make you jump. The heat from the hot glue with transfer right through most metals, so again, use something else to press on your hinge to hold it on to avoid burning your fingers.
Step 5: Attach Fabric Side Panels and Detailing
Once the hinges are attached, glue the side panels onto the sides of the box. Apply the glue as shown, pressing outward on the fabric when it is applied to push the glue toward the edges.
Pro-tip #6: Too much glue will ooze out of your project at the edges and result in a stringy white glue mess. Start small. You can always add more glue as needed.
Once your side panels are on, decorate your edges with faux lacing by cutting 1" x 1/8" strips of the same fabric and attaching them in a criss-cross pattern as shown. This is a real test of your gluing skills and requires only a small dot of glue on each end of the "lace".
Step 6: Enjoy Your Completed Box
After detailing the corners of your box, you should be a pro at hot gluing and should have a cute little box to show for it. I filled mine with candy to give my students who show good gluing skills in class. :)
Participated in the
Sticky Stuff Speed Challenge