Introduction: Classy Paper Box Upgrade

About: Someday, I would like to create something that is so commonly used, it's not even considered genius.

As kids our parents would say "go grab the paper please!". This was a chore, because here in the Great Northwest it was usually raining or snowing, and the paper was somewhere in the driveway at least 50' from the front door.

Now with voice command news, phones, laptops, blog posts, forums and social media, our newspapers are almost long gone. So what to do with the ol' paper box but make it look nice and give it a face lift. In our neighborhood the paper box is the go to landscaping services ads and lost pet flyer inbox.

I decided on this multi faceted instructable to WWP. Wood,Weld and Print.

I was looking for a modern touch, and multiple materials that should stand up to the NW weather.

Here is what I used for the full production in about 6 hours.


Mig,Tig, or stick welder

3D printer with wood infused PLA filament

Angle grinder with metal cutting wheel and 80 grit flap disk

Circular saw

Pneumatic pin nailer 3/4"

Air compressor

Disk sander

Small blow torch (not shown)

Square and tape measure

Clamps/ magnetic holds

Pencil/ soapstone metal marker

1/4" plywood

30" of 1/8"x 1/2" angle iron

Gloves, eye protection/ helmet, and welding pliers

Wood glue

Boiled linseed oil

Black outdoor spray paint


Step 1: Prepare Area and Measure

I started by yanking out the old plastic box only to find a glue mess blob under it with a few spiders running around. I chipped out the glue and measured the opening.

I then marked all the 1/4" plywood with the correct dimensions all the way around and cut them out with the skill saw. There was a slight slope in the box to minimise rain water pooling over its 16" length. I accounted for the slope in my cuts just by eye since there was room to spare. I used 1/4" plywood to maximise interior size and since it is surrounded by brick, strength is not critical.

Step 2: Shou Sugi Ban (sort Of)

Well, it is not the full Shou Sugi Ban technique, more like a minimised concept of it.

Shou Sugi Ban is a Japanese wood burning technique that helps preserve wood among other benefits.

I only did it for the aesthetics, usually a full wood charring and wire brush is the proper way. Since it will have minimal exposure I saved that step in time.

A light hit with the blow torch brings out the grain look I wanted. I let the wood cool before I gave it a couple rub downs with some boiled linseed oil. I processed both sides of the plywood in this step. The boiled linseed oil brings out the color, and will provide a little protection as it dries over time. If I had full exposure I would do it in Tung oil but that is a multi day process.

Step 3: 3D Print, Placement and Assembly

I decided on a house number inlay that would be printed in wood PLA from a 2013 Bukito 3D printer.

I used Tinkercad to produce a simple rectangle and number inlay.

I used a 80mm x 25mm rectangle with 490 centered left to right/ top to bottom.

490 was made with the hole function that creates a void in the solid surface when placed at desired depth.

The rectangle thickness was 5mm and the 490 was 2mm thick, setting the 490 in the face of the rectangle down 2mm created a carved look creating the void. I centered the 3D print on the bottom of the box outlining it with a pencil. I hand carved out an inset with a razor knife to make the print sit flush. The print was glued in and sanded smooth.

I then used wood glue and the pin nailer to assemble the box as shown in complete form.

I did a test fit with the plywood in the paper box to check for any high spots, I then sanded the edges with the disk sander to have smooth edges all the way around.

Step 4: Cut and Weld

After the box assembly, I measured the inside diameter for the angle iron surround. The top and bottom will be 3/4" longer on each side (or size of angle iron dimensions used) to fit the weld cope joint.

A cope joint (see photo) is easier to cut straight than a typical miter 45 degree cut, (if you don't have a metal chop saw). With this joint the sides merry up nicely with a magnetic hold tool. I did a dry fit out at the paper box to see if any grinding touch up was needed.

(Gear up with all safety gear, check surroundings and ground before welding)

On to the welding, simple tac spot welds all way around gives you a chance to fix any metal warping as it heats up. I used a mig flux core wire that blast through what ever, so no metal prep needed. Joints were cleaned up with a 80 grit flap disk, as well as the face of the metal to prep for painting.

Step 5: Paint and Insert/ Before and After

I sprayed the metal with a black outdoor spray paint. I used two coats front and back so no bare metal gets exposure to the elements.

I also painted two coats on the 3D print inlay then did a quick wipe with a rag to bring out the numbering each time.

Final placement was easy, the box snugged in just right and the angle iron surround was a tight fit so no need for any glue.

Now that is classy.

Thank you for watching.

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