Introduction: Making a Simple Laser-Cut Box With a Supportive Bottom

I was tired of working with my messy desk drawer, so after working with a laser cutter for a few weeks I decided to solve the problem by making a neat storage box that would give everything a place. The biggest problem with the other boxes I found online is that they didn't have supportive bottoms— they clicked in, but needed gluing before they would would hold anything.

I set out to design an easy to make box that also had a click-in bottom. Before tacking a multi-compartment box, I assembled the simple 3X3 box you find here. 

You'll need: 

A laser cutter
Adobe Illustrator
10in x 10in x .19in plywood (though you can change the width yourself if you're willing to fuss with the Illustrator file)

I made this at TechShop SF on their Epilog lasers. 

Step 1: Design Your Box in Illustrator

The simplest way to design your box in illustrator is to start with the sides as simple boxes, and then using the pathfinder tool to modify them with the merge and subtract functions. 

I started with five 3in x 3in squares. From there, I first added the tabs onto the base. The base of the box is .2in above the floor, and seats into the sides of the box with tabs. You can choose the length and width of your tabs (the depth should be the depth of the material for a smooth finished surface), but I recommend you make them constant across all sides, so you can use the pieces interchangeably if you must. 

After you've added these tabs, add holes of the same measurements at the desired height on the outside sides of the box. Once this is completed, you should have the design for 4 walls that will all click onto the base, but their sides won't touch. Now it's time to make your side-joining tabs. The easiest way to do this is copy the tabs from your base, rotate them by 90 degrees, and add them to your boxes using the merge tool. This creates the male tabs. If you add them to the inside of your box and use the subtract tool, you'll create the female tabs. Two of my side walls had male tabs and two sides should  had female tabs, but use your own discretion if you'd like to have a different tab setup. 

You'll find my final file attached, so if your material is the same thickness (.19in) you could simply use this format. 

Finally, add any design you'd like to the box. I added some pleasant designs a friend made, but it's a great place to get creative. 

Step 2: Cut and AssembleBox

Once you have your box designed, you can cut and raster it with your laser cutter. Use the appropriate material-specific settings, and be sure to cut from the inside-out, otherwise the box walls may drop and the internal tab cuttings may be inaccurate. 

Once the box is rastered and cut, it's very straightforward to snap together. Enjoy! While this simple box may not be extremely useful (though it holds quarters on a desk fairly well), it's a great way to tweak out any problems you're having with your material before you move on to more complex snap-together laser boxes.