Introduction: Assemble a Laser Cut Living Hinge Box
In this tutorial, I'll step through how I assembled a laser cut living hinge box. My box stores 3x4" custom name badges from ProjectIcebreak, but yours can store all kinds of things! :-)
You'll need these supplies:
- A laser cutter (like at TechShopSF)
- 1/8" plywood
- Sanding sponges
- Wood glue
- Elastic cord
- Rubber bands
Step 1: Cut the Pieces
First download the files for this Flex Box project on Thingiverse and modify them as needed to suit your needs and laser cutter.
For my box, I modified the AI files in Adobe Illustrator so that my box would be smaller and have custom etching. I etched on both sides of the box cover, so I put my plywood through 2 runs on the laser cutter. If you'd like a smaller box, you can download my AI file from Thingiverse instead.
Step 2: Sand the Pieces
Then use sanding sponges to sand both sides of each piece to remove char marks. Start with 60 grit and finish with a higher grit, like 180 grit.
(The flexible sanding sponges are great, as they make it easier to get into small places.)
Step 3: Glue the Pieces
This step uses the technique shown in this Youtube video. Lay out all your pieces flat, interlocking the pieces together. Run wood glue along the seams between the pieces. Then rotate the two side pieces so that you can also run glue along the seam between the front edge and side edge.
Next rotate all the pieces upwards to form the box.
Step 4: Remove Excess Glue
Use a wet paper towel to wipe off excess glue. After you wipe off excess, press the seams together again, and wipe off additional glue that comes out.
Step 5: "Clamp" the Glued Box
Bend the cover over the box and stretch multiple rubber bands over the entire box. Continue checking the sides and front of the box and press in on any areas that don't seem aligned correctly.
You could probably use real clamps for this step too, but the rubber bands work surprisingly well.
Step 6: (Optional) Stain the Outside
If you'd like to give the box more sheen and protection, you can brush on a finish like Minwax Polycrylic Satin Finish.
Note: The photo shows an unfinished box on the left and a finished box on the right. Both look good to me, but I opted to brush a finish on the exterior surfaces to give it a little more protection from water spills.
Step 7: Insert Elastic Cord
Insert a piece of elastic cord into the holes on the bottom, so that the ends are poking through on the inside.
In my case, I found lots of leftover elastic cord in my sewing kit, but you could buy it if needed, or upcycle old conference lanyards. If you find barbed elastic cord that matches the size of your box, then you can even skip the next step of sewing the ends together.
Step 8: Size the Elastic Cord
Now you need to determine how long your elastic cord should be. You can do that by sticking a pin through both cords at a point, checking the fit by stretching the cord over the box, and continually readjusting the pin until you find a great snug fit.
Step 9: Stitch the Cord Together
Find matching thread and hand-stitch the ends of the elastic cord together, at the point you found in the last step. Cut off excess thread and elastic after.
If you don't like the look of the visible hand-stitching, you could cover it in some creative way, like with ribbon or a button.
Step 10: Enjoy Your New Box
The box is complete! Show it to all your friends and family, watch them marvel at the wonder of the living hinge. :)
Question 5 months ago on Step 6
Very nice! Can you give me any tips or tricks for optional step #6 (Stain the Outside)? I use the Trotec Speedy 300, 80W Laser Engraver/Cutter at the public library, and I am new to all of this, and especially new with creating living hinges. I am concerned I will apply the finish and gum up the areas with the living hinge. Is this a valid concern? How do you prevent that from happening? Thank you!
4 years ago
6 years ago
Hi! I was wondering if the box would also close without the elastic band? (just with the hinges into it. Otherwise i would add this idea to the box https://nl.pinterest.com/pin/430023464410991959/
6 years ago
this is beautiful. You should make one for business cards too.
Reply 6 years ago
Thank you! I probably will, as I have a need for a business card sized box as well. I will comment once I make that and have a file for that size.