Introduction: Metal Gift Box

About: As long as I can remember I've been building stuff. I think it's high time I shared these projects.

When my little brother got married a few weeks ago the groomsmen and I decided to get him a GoPro. Since normal gift wrapping seemed a bit underwhelming for the occasion, I decided to wrap the gift in aluminum flashing. While this may initially appear to be quite difficult, I was able to pull it off with only a couple hours work.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

I used a standard corrugated cardboard box for the structure of the box. Not only does the cardboard provide extra support for the flashing, but it gave me a good guide to follow as I shaped the aluminum. Note that the longest dimension (width) of the box corresponds to the width of the flashing I used. This was important as it minimized the number of seams I had to join later on. I found a 14" x 10' roll of aluminum flashing, which worked well with my chosen box. I also purchased a box of 100 short, 1/8" diameter pop rivets, which were used to hold the bits of flashing together.

Step 2: The Tools

I used the following tools for this build:


1/8" metal drill bit

Wide jaw Vise Grips

Tin (aviation) snips

Pop rivet tool (gun)

Combination square

My homemade bending brake (If you haven't seen this project, it's my most popular ever. You can check it out here)

Step 3: Measuring and Cutting the Outer Sheet

The metal "cover" for our cardboard box will be composed of three main pieces; the outer sheet and two end pieces. The outer (or outside) sheet wraps around the entire box, beginning and ending parallel to the longer flaps on the top of the box. Instead of ending the sheet along the edge of these flaps, I left an extra 1" on both ends to allow the ends of the outer sheet to overlap when the box is closed. By laying the box on the outer sheet, the locations of the folds can be easily marked with a pencil. The outside sheet was cut to length using the aviation snips.

Step 4: Bending the Outer Sheet

The outer sheet was easily bent using my bending brake. Once bent, you can see how the completed sheet wraps around the box with some overlap at the top. Note that since the box and flashing are both 14" wide, this sheet perfectly fits the box without additional trimming, which saved some work.

Step 5: Cutting the End Pieces

The first step in making the two end pieces was to measure the height and width of the end of the box. I added a 1" border to this dimension and cut two identical rectangles from the flashing roll. This 1" border will be used to form the tabs used to attach the ends to the outside sheet. Be careful not to undersize these end pieces as I had to remake one of them as it did not easily fit over the end of the cardboard box. You may want to add 1/16" (~1.5mm) to the measured box dimensions to ensure everything fits correctly.

Step 6: Cut Corners

I wouldn't typically advise cutting corners, but here I had to. I cut the squares formed by the intersecting 1" border lines from the corners of both end pieces.

Step 7: Bend the Long Edges of the Ends

With the corners cut from the end pieces, I bent their longer edges to 90° using the brake.

Step 8: Bend the Short Edges of the Ends

Bending the shorter edges of the ends to 90° proved to be a bit more difficult as I couldn't use the bending brake due to interference with its clamp. Instead, I used my 3" wide Vise Grips. Since the length of the bend was longer than 3", I used what I call the overlapping partial bend technique. Beginning at one end of the bend, I lock the Vise Grips along the bend line and proceed to bend it to 45°. Next, I position the Vise Grips slightly further along the bend, while making sure to maintain an overlap with the previously-bent section. I repeated this process until I reached the final section of the bend. This final section was bent to the full 90°. With the final section bent to 90°, I proceed back along the length of the bend, clamping with an overlap and bending from 45° to the final 90°. With each side bent to 90°, the completed end pieces looked like shallow trays.

Step 9: Position Metal Over Box

With the three pieces complete, they were slipped over the cardboard box and temporarily held in position using some painter's tape.

Step 10: Drill Holes

1/8" holes were drilled on approximately 1" centers around both ends of the box. These holes penetrate through the outer sheet and through the 90° tabs of the end pieces. Another row of holes was drilled along the overlap of the outside sheet at the top of the box. After drilling each hole, a pop rivet was placed into the hole to hold everything in position as additional holes were drilled. If I were to do this again, I would install these rivets as I drilled as they tended to move around and would sometimes fall out of the holes.

Step 11: Install the Rivets

The final step in making the structure of the box was to install the pop rivets with a pop rivet tool. Make sure that before closing up the top of the box you put the gift inside. Once you rivet the box together you have to destroy it to get it open again. As a final touch, I riveted two additional pieces of flashing to the box. These were made to look like the riveted patches you would see on a military aircraft.

Step 12: Graphics

An important finishing touch is the graphics for the box. Since I was going for a military/aviation theme, I created some stencils with both my brother's name as well as a "No Step" graphic similar to what you would see on an airplane wing. I printed a template for this stencil and taped it over a thin piece of cardboard. Using the template as a guide, I cut the stencil from the cardboard using an x-acto knife. With the stencil complete, it was positioned on the box before hitting it with some black spray paint.

Step 13: The Finished Box

This box came out looking really neat and my brother enjoyed trying to get it open - although I still think he appreciated the gift more than the box. I expected he would simply get a tin snips to cut open the box, but instead he went for a pliers, which worked pretty well. This was a fun little project and perhaps you can find a use for the idea sometime in the future.