Sending Compact Discs by mail often results in cracked jewel cases by the time they are delivered. I recently downsized and sold a lot of my CDs on eBay and came up with a simple cardboard box mailer that is easy to cut out from a template. My buyers raved about how well packaged they were. That made me happy.
These mailer boxes can be made from broken-down cardboard boxes obtained free. Maybe you are not selling them but only want to send one or a few to a friend for a gift or something. This same design can also be applied to books.
Step 1: The Tools and Materials You Will Need
fine-point pen or pencil
sharp utility knife
plastic window screen spline tool with nylon wheel ($2.99 at hardware store)
4-inch drywall knife ($2.99 at hardware store)
shipping tape ($2.99)
piece of plywood 14 by 14 inches, on which to cut cardboard
corrugated cardboard sheet 12 by 8 inches
Step 2: General Notes
A standard CD jewel case measures 10 mm thick and 125 mm x 142 mm.
Typical cardboard boxes and sheets are 3 mm thick.
The drawing files I included have been made in Microsoft Paint.
Step 3: Main Drawing
This drawing shows the overall layout of the box when flat, and its measurements. While this file is printable, it is reduced in size to 75 percent because the full-size drawing exceeds an 8.5 x 11 inch printer page, therefore it is mostly to show the measurements and the detail view of one of the 3 mm cuts (there are 4 total). You can draw your own template by using these measurements, or you can print the following drawing file for a nearly-ready-made template.
Step 4: Printable Template
This is drawn to 100 percent scale, but is missing the top flap because the full printed length exceeds the 11 inch length of standard printer paper. I uploaded this file to this Instructable but couldn't find how to make it a link for downloading, however, it worked to hover my mouse over it, right-click, and choose save image as to copy it to the hard drive. Then I opened it in Microsoft Paint and printed it as follows.
When downloaded, the file should print the correct size on a sheet of paper. You may need to select 100% scaling in the app you use to print it correctly. After printing, check with a ruler that it matches the measurements in the Main Drawing.
After successfully printing this, take another piece of paper and mark 152 mm from a corner. Tape it under the printed template with the mark you made under the side corner (per the measurement shown on the main drawing). Then draw extended lines for the top by hand with a ruler out to the 152 mm length shown for the top flap. Cut out the whole drawing outline and that will be your template.
Since I needed to make many boxes, I needed a thicker template to use when tracing each box outline on the cardboard, so the first cardboard box that I made became my working template to use for transferring the outline onto subsequent cardboard stock.
Step 5: Preparing to Trace the Template to the Cardboard
I suggest orienting the template on the cardboard with the front and back flaps parallel with the corrugated internal ribs of the cardboard. Trace around the outside of the template and onto the cardboard with a fine-point pen.
Step 6: Cutting the Cardboard Box
Lay the cardboard on the piece of plywood and cut along the outline using the utility knife and ruler. When finished, the box should lift free from the cardboard sheet.
It is important that the two side flaps have a 3 mm cut into all four corners of the CD case area. This allows the folded-up sides to be slightly offset inside from the box surface instead of sticking out. In other words, the front and back flaps will cover the ends of the side flaps when they are all folded up.
Step 7: Bending the Flaps
The window screen spline tool with its nylon wheel is ideal for indenting the cardboard to make it fold evenly on a line. Use a straightedge to guide the screen tool on a straight line. When indenting a line on the cardboard parallel to the corrugated ribs (front, back, and top bends), be careful not to press too hard with the tool or you can punch through the thin cardboard surface, weakening the bend.
After indenting the four sides that fold up against the CD case, use the straightedge to hold the cardboard flat while bending each side up with your fingers or the drywall knife. Now, the front and two sides all should fold up to the same height (which is higher than the thickness of the CD).
Next, lay the top flat on a surface and bend the CD base up to 90 degrees. Make a small mark where each side meets the top and that is where to make a final indent so the top will bend and lay over the box.
Step 8: Assembling the Box
Now the box is ready to tape the four corners together. After doing that, it becomes a 3-dimensional rectangular box with a cover sticking up. At this point, the CD should fit loosely into the box with some extra space on top. (I wrap a CD in plastic kitchen wrap to seal it from moisture along the way.)
Shim up the excess space inside with one or two pieces of cardboard the same size as the CD face.
The final step is to tape the top around the three sides to hold it in place. Use heavy duty, quality, shipping tape. My photo doesn't show the clear tape very well.
Step 9: Variations on the Box
You can make the sides, front, and back higher to stack more than one CD in the box. You can also adapt the box for books by using the same style and changing the dimensions to fit the book, as if it were a big CD case.