Introduction: Temporary Shelving Doubles As Moving Boxes

I tend to pick up and move often, so I wanted to find a way to keep my furniture to a minimum while having enough storage space to keep all my clothes and things stowed, yet easy to access. I also wanted to keep my moving boxes, so I don't have to beg and scrounge for boxes every few months, or worse, actually have to buy some.

Our local library has stacks of empty computer paper boxes available for anyone to have. With a little structural support, they become stackable storage that will still function as good sized moving boxes.

Step 1: Materials

First, gathering the materials:

- knife

- wood glue (I happened to have a half bottle on hand from other projects)

- ruler (any straight edge will do)

- clamps (I picked these up for about $.50 apiece at my local Big Lots... you can get by without them, but it makes the process easier and quicker)

- computer paper boxes (I got a dozen from my local library, office buildings would have lots of extras, too. Pretty much anywhere that has several printers in use)

Step 2: Cutting Out a Support

Without a support, the boxes will buckle and become useless quickly.

To make the support, grab some scrap cardboard (or sacrifice one of the boxes), and cut a 6.5" by 11" rectangle. The long edge of the rectangle should be in line with the lines on the cardboard to provide the most support. You can use the 11" side of the box to measure the long edge of the rectangle. The shorter edge doesn't have to be exact, I found 6" to 7" an easy size to work with that is still big enough to do the job.

Once you have the rectangle, you can check the size by sliding it lengthwise into the box. You can then use that rectangle as a template to cut out however many supports you need.

Step 3: Gluing in the Support

Use the ruler to crease the rectangle and fold it in half (into a 3" by 11" rectangle). Take care to make sure the short edges line up fairly nicely, as they will get some glue. I also went with the brown-side out, but that's just personal preference.

Apply a line of glue inside the support, like putting mustard on a hot dog bun. You don't need much here to hold it together, and the less you use, the faster it will dry.

I use the clamps to hold the support in place as I glue the edges. The quickest and cleanest method I've found so far is to hold the side of the box away from the support, drip a couple drops of glue down the side of the box where the two will meet, then hold them together when the glue slides far enough to cover the edge of the support.

After a minute or so, you can flip the box on its edge and use a book to hold pressure for you.

Slide the clamps off and start on the next box.

Step 4: Finished!

I would let the boxes dry overnight before putting clothing in them, but they should be quite a bit stronger now. I didn't stack them any higher than four boxes, but two stacks of four is about all I need (at the moment).

Flip the box lid upside-down, and set the newly supported box in it sideways. You can stack the boxes without the lids, but this keeps them handy for later, and keeps little rolly things from falling out, if you put them in your new shelves.

I have not tried these out on the road yet as packing boxes, but I will upload the results in about four months, when they take their first long-distance car trek.

[edit: I used these boxes on a recent 1800 mile car trip. They held up fine, even with books and stuff pressing outward. I was a bit worried about the supports separating from the edges, but they were fine. Next time I'll measure the placement a bit better, a bit off-center, so I can fit the size of books I have on one side easily, and little boxes or things on the other. The divider got in the way when I ran out of shorter books.]

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