Introduction: Unique Unicorn Jewelry Box - Made From Recyclables

I am a long time lurker and first time poster, i.e. noob. So please practice patience at my long winded post.


For a couple of years now, I have been daydreaming of ways to make useful and creative products from cardboard. We receive a lot of it in today's economy and we do pay for it, we also pay for it to be recycled. As a starving artist, I figured there must be a decent way to tap this resource.

I have been developing a design to make many little jewelry boxes with the help of a laser cutter. Once I stumbled upon the 'Hand Tools Only' contest my current objectives shifted for twenty days.


1.) Create only using hand tools.

2.) Minimum 80% of physical prosperities must be from recycle material.

3.) Make it functional

4.) Use, mostly, supples most crafters have and can get ahold of easily.

5.) Create something one of a kind - that actually looks good. :P

Note: Most of the sizing and cuts will depend on your sourced recyclables.



Measuring device of choice - (I used three different kinds: tape, cloth tape and small ruler).

Straightedge - for cutting guide

Exacto Knife - w/extra fresh blades

Utility Knife - w/extra fresh blades

Coping Saw

Pull Saw

Chip Brush

Sand paper - 80/150/220

Large Cardboard Tube - Mine was about 6" in diameter

Medium Sized Cardboard Box (broken down) - or the equivalent

One Small Craft Stick

CA Glue

Wood Glue

5-Minute Epoxy - I used way to much and went through about 1.2oz (One and a half double barrel supplies)

Pallet Knife / Large Craft Stick - for mixing and applying epoxy

B-I-N Shellac Primer

Note: I used artist quality acrylic paints, because I like to paint and it's my preferred color method.

Gac 100 - or acrylic medium fluid

Gac 200

Acrylic Retarder

Acrylic Gel Medium

Colors of Choice

Step 1: Safety

ALWAYS cut away from you.

Make sure your hands, digits and any other body part is not in the path of force when using a blade

Wear a mask when sanding. Doesn't matter what you are sanding, wear a mask and give your lungs a break.

Step 2: Prep the Cardboard

a.) First, break down your cardboard. Take off all the tape, now the shipping labels, are there any other stickers that may get in the way of absorption? We will be sealing the cardboard and want it to soak up as much as possible during that step.

b.) Take the flat box and cut the flaps and sides apart. You want to make sure you have strips that will wrap half way around your tube. Their width will depend on how high you make your drawers.

c.) You will also want to set some aside for tops and drawer bottoms. Use the tube you have to determine how big these pieces will be. I ended up with 9, I used a cut off from my tube to trace each round.

d.) Glue up the remaining flat parts using wood glue and water, 2:1. I used three layers. We will let this sit and soak up the watery glue while we work and sleep for a night or two...

Did I mention this is a project for a few days, at least, and takes a lot of drying in between?

Step 3: Measure and Cut Your Tube

a.) I built myself a custom crafting table. It has a section that I call my 'catch all', it's a ditch between the top and edge, and my tube fit on it! You can replicate this stable surface by using a few boards screwed to a flat surface/plywood/wide board. The boards must be close enough to catch the tube and leaving the majority to be worked.

I used a clamp to make sure there was a constant edge.

b.) I measured out, and marked, my total desired height, 38cm (yes, I used metric because I am married to a Frenchman who cannot count by fours...)

c.) Using the pull saw I marked my start line. I held the saw securely, then rotated the tube the opposite direction of the cutting teeth.

d.) I attempted a straight cut, but I probably failed. I just tried to make sure my blade was following that start line that was around the whole tube.

Step 4: Drawer Openings

Now, it is time to determine the drawers. Figure out how many you want and how deep you want them.

I decided on four drawers, the bottom being the largest with a height of 5cm and 3cm from the bottom. Then I spaced 3cm and did a 4cm drawer; 3cm then 3cm drawer; repeat last step. This gave me room to make a 'bowl' at the top of the castle to catch jewelry that is being taken off quickly before bed.

a.) Mark two lines opposite of each other on the tube, now you have two halves separated.

b.) Measure

c.) Measure

d.) Mark the placement of the drawers. Note: whenever I was marking I would do several dashes and go along the median.

e.) Use the pull saw to make crosscuts where the top and bottom of each drawer will be.

f.) Now the hard part, at least it was on my thick tube... Use an exact blade to start the rip cuts that are left (the sides of the drawers).

g.) Finish, carefully, with the utility knife. Take your time and make several slices. My tube was so thick, I end up slicing a 'v'. Angled on the left and made thin slices, then angled right, and repeat. This kept the blade from getting pinched and made the work safer and easier.

h.) Mark on the front and the inside of the tube. I started with 'A' on the left side of the top and 'B' on the same front but opposite side. This will help keep things easy incase our cut lines are slightly off.

i.) Repeat steps e-h for each drawer.

Once that is done, you will have your drawer fronts ready!

Step 5: Drawer Bottoms and Sides

Remember that single layer cardboard that we needed 9 rounds out of? Now is its time to shine.

a.) Mark the rounds using the inner-diameter of the tube. I used a sharpie and went around a few times. I cut on the outside of the sharpie line, taking my time.

b.) Stack your drawer fronts, measure the total (x).

c.) Use a cloth measuring tape and wrap around one of those rounds. Find the total length that equals half the circumference, take 5mm off (y).

d.) find a piece or two that is x high and y long.

e.) Place a round snuggly into the front of a drawers. Measure from the round to the top of the drawer. Subtract about 1-2mm (z).

f.) Cut z from xy piece.

g.) Hold and smooth along curve of tube.

h.) Label to corresponding front

i.) repeat e-h for each drawer.

Note: If you some how don't have enough, order a new crafting tool. We still have to wait for the laminate to dry for the next step.

Step 6: Supporting Legs/columns/pillars and Drawer Handles.

We will need these just to keep things stable. I made four, but they are mostly just butt joints, except for the front that cannot be as high due to the drawers.

For the drawer handles, I had a smaller tube, I cut two rings and then cut them in half. You can use strips of cardboard.

a.) Sketch until you find a shape you like.

b.) Trace on the laminated cardboard.

c.) Use the coping saw to cut the shape out quickly and efficiently.

d.) Repeat until complete.

e.) For the front, make it a tenon.

f.) Cut a notch/mortise out of the tube

g.) Fine the center of the drawers and mark where the edges of the handles will go.

h.) Cut notches where the end of the handles belong.

Step 7: Corbel - Necklace Hanger/holder

A corbel is traditionally used to hold up a floor/level, such as the level the extends beyond the wall onto a tower. They can be done with a decorative touch. Our corbel is to support necklaces so they do not get tangle up in drawers.

a.) Sketch until you are happy, but make sure there are points that will stop the jewelry from sliding off. Mine came our majestic! And can easily fit rings as well.

b.) Use packing tape, if you have it, to laminate one side of the sketch you are most pleased with.

c.) Cut our the sketch with the exacto knife.

d.) Place tape on the opposite side and cut off with the exacto knife. This is a great time to find tune the outline.

You now have a semi-durable template!

e.) Trace the template on the laminated cardboard. I made four corbels so that I could reach each but not have to turn the box.

f.) Cut each corbel out with the coping saw.

Note: I made my corbels with a long mortise so they could pinch the wall (the tenon in this case) for extra security.

Step 8: Dry Fit

Lay everything out neatly so you can see your progress. Now we can match every thing up where it is supposed to go so we won't have any surprises when we are working with fast setting glues.

Oh, and ignore the little bits, I didn't end up using them.

a.) Lay every thing in groups.

b.) batch each piece together to see if it will fit.

c.) Mark where the pillar/supports will go.

d.) Make slits for in the middle where each support will go.

e.) break up that small craft stick! We want to place them in those slits and will jam them into the pillars.

f.) Mark the placement for the corbels.

g.) Make sure everything fits! If not, adjust now.

h.) Get ready!

Step 9: Glue Up!

Wear gloves, it just makes life easier. Be quick, but also be accurate. If anything gets out of square and not fixed immediately then you will create a lot of work for yourself. Though it is 5-minute epoxy, let it sit 10-20 minutes before handling it excessively.

a.) Let us start with the pillars, as long as you know the stick fits them and the tube, and the mortise and tenon for the front are perfect. Mix a quarter size of epoxy and coat each face that will kiss. Be quick, but also be accurate. If anything gets out of square and not fixed immediately then you will create a lot of work for yourself.

b.) Now let's install the inner rounds, yes, inside the tube. I place one pretty much on top of the tenon and then one about 1-2mm below the drawer opening. The fifth round will go directly beneath the corbels but above the top drawer - it will be the bottom of our catch bowl. Use our pallet knife to put glue on the edge of the round and place, if cut to size they will stay in place while the epoxy cures.

c.) Drawer bottoms! Pretty much the same as b, epoxy the edge and place near bottom of the front of drawer piece. *Be sure to clean up and globs, they will impede the sliding action of your drawer and possible prevent them from fitting.*

d.) Drawer sides, super glue one side to the inside of the drawer front. You will notice that it is smaller than the round, that is what we want, because I said so.

e.) Drawer sides - continued; place epoxy on the bottom edge of side piece and super glue on the loose end. Connect the loose end to the inside edge of the drawer front, hold until CA glue is dry. *Be sure to clean up and globs, they will impede the sliding action of your drawer and possible prevent them from fitting.*

f.) Epoxy the handles, make sure they are straight!

Step 10: Clean Up and Finish Prep

Be sure the epoxy is cured.

a.) Put on your mask, not the covid mask, you need a dust mask that will help prevent breathing this fine dust.

b.) First, hit all high points of glue with 80 grit.

c.) Sand the inside edge of the tube where the drawer openings are, this will be helpful, if there is glue or primer build up you shouldn't have to go back and adjust anything. Use 80 grit.

d.) Hit edges and rough faces with 150 grit.

Step 11:

Optional: Use glue or filler for exposed edges for extra strength and smooth appearance.

Use shellac primer as it will seal the cardboard and help prevent it from getting wet. If you use acrylic or latex, you run the risk of trapping moisture inside, though it will take sever layers to completely seal either way.

Shellac primer is not viscous, it will run and dry fast, catch those drips! Use it to fill the card board as much as possible.

a.) Prime the interior.

b.) Prime the bottom.

c.) Prime the top.

e.) Prime the exterior

f.) Prime the drawers in the same manner.

g.) Once dry, sand any real rough spots with 220 grit.

h.) Repeat a-f until satisfied or you have run out of primer.

Step 12: Paint and Finish!

Decorate to make your heart happy! You can use the acrylic paint as filler if needed. Apply a varnish for protective finish.

Hand Tools Only Challenge

Participated in the
Hand Tools Only Challenge