Anatomical Heart-shaped Box (for Your Unique Valentine.)




Is your Valentine a surgeon? med student? a goth? a cannibal? just a weirdo in general? This is the instructable for you!

If your love is real, your box of chocolates should look like a real heart!

Time: 3-4 hrs.
Cost: $0-$10, depending on what you already have around the house.


1. Printed heart image (print at home or at copy store)
2. Scrap cardboard (corrugated is too thick; use something like a cereal box.)
3. Paper glue (a gluestick will work for steps 1-5, but you will need something stronger for steps 6-9.)
4. Construction paper, cardstock or other thick paper


1. Sharp scissors or Xacto knife with cutting board.
2. Pencil.

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Step 1: Get Your Heart Image

First you need a heart printed on paper. For best results use some nice paper like cardstock or bond paper.

1. Google image search "human heart", "human heart model" or "anatomical heart" and choose a heart you like. Or you can look through one of those old European medical texts and scan an image from there.

2. Using an image editor, adjust the color, size, etc. of your heart to make it the way you want it. If you want a large box, use a full sheet. For a more regular-sized box, go with about a half sheet size.

3. Print the heart on your computer or take the image to a copy center and have them do it for you if your printer is not up to the task.

Step 2: Cut, Glue, Smash!

Time to make the top and bottom of your box.

1. Cut a piece of cardboard big enough for your heart. Set aside.

2. Take your heart image. Cut roughly around your heart.

3. Glue the heart to the cardboard.

4. Put the whole thing into a book and put something heavy on top for a few minutes while the glue dries.

Step 3: Cut Out Your Heart! (Not Literally)

Now that the glue has dried, remove your heart from the book and start cutting it out.

You can leave a little border of white if you like, or cut right along the lines.

(Optional: Cover the heart with decoupage paste.)

Step 4: Trace and Cut Again!

Set your heart piece aside.

Cut out another piece of scrap cardboard. This will be the bottom of your box.

Trace your heart onto this piece of cardboard.

Cut out the cardboard in the shape of the heart.

Now you should have two pieces that are the same shape. One should have a heart on it (the top) and the other should be heart-shaped and blank (the bottom).

Step 5: Make the Box Sides

1. Take a sheet of construction paper or cardstock and cut a strip off of it.

The width of of the strip will determine the depth of you box, so plan accordingly. The strip should be the desired depth of your box plus one quarter inch (about a half centimeter).

My own box depth was 7/8 in. (~2.3 cm) plus 1/4 in. (0.5cm) making for a total strip width of about 1 and 1/8 in. (2.8 cm).

2. Fold 1/4 inch of your strip along the length of the strip.

3. Cut across the fold at small intervals along its entire length.

4. Cut, fold, and cut more strips to make enough for you box sides. I needed four total 11 inch strips to complete mine (two for the top of the box and two for the bottom).

Step 6: Attach the Sides

1. Apply a trail of your stronger paper glue or loctite glue just inside the edge of the box bottom.

2. Press the folded, cut up edge onto the glue, flexing the box side. As you go along, hold the folded edge onto the box bottom with your fingers to help it adhere while its drying.

3. When you come to a detail in your box shape, crease your box side to help it change direction. You can follow the heart shape as closely or as loosely as you like. A simple oval will be easier while a more intricate shape will take longer.

4. When your first strip runs out and you need to continue with another strip, leave about an inch overlap and apply glue between them.

5. When your box strips meet, leave overlap again and cut off the excess.

Step 7: Finishing Up

Now you must attach box sides to the box top using the same method as on the box bottom. However, this is trickier because your shape on top must match the shape on the bottom in order for the box sides to slide together.

If you used a simple oval shape, you can probably just eyeball it. Otherwise you can make a stencil to help you. To make a stencil:

1. Trace your completed, glued box sides onto a piece of cardboard.

(Note: the top half should be a tiny bit larger than the bottom so that the top sides can surround the bottom sides when the box is closed. Tracing along the outside of the sides should automatically make the top sides larger than the bottom sides though.)

2. Cut out the shape. You should be good at cutting by now!

3. While gluing the sides onto the box top, use the stencil as a guide, pushing the sides into the edge of the stencil as it dries.

Fortunately paper is flexible and the box sides should slide together fairly easily even if your top and bottom are not identical in every spot.

Step 8: Ta-DA!

Slide the top and bottom together. It's done!

Go to your local hand-dipped chocolate store and buy some chocolates to go inside.

Or fill it with something else.

Better yet, fill it with some human heart-shaped chocolates!

Happy Valentine's Day!

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    16 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea! Very easy to make, yet an awesome gift 8D I think I'm going to glue one more layer of cardborad inside to cover the little strips (just as you did the "stencil") :)

    4 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I also did my version finally, and decided to fill it with gummy hearts.
    It's made of a frosted pizza's box, so i painted it outside and side as well, and finished it with a layer of varnish I used to use for decoupage :)

    This is the outcome:


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Holy crap! That is awesome!

    And, I might add, much prettier (and much more disgusting) than mine. Stellar!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is so fun! I made these for my sons (ages 10 and 12) and some of their nerdy (I use that term fondly and because that's how they refer to themselves), so I used a somewhat cartoonish heart and added labeling for the heart's main parts (aorta, left ventricle, etc.). My boys are really into science and anything geeky and weird, so this is perfect! I did use the back of a butter knife to score the fold on my box sides, which made making the fold really easy. I also found that using a pair of student (small, elementary-student-sized) Fiskar scissors worked great for cutting the "fringe." Also, spray adhesive is one of my favorite things, and made for a nice smooth finish on the top of the box. (I know it doesn't seem like the best choice environmentally, but it just works so darn good)! Another recommendation I have is to be sure and use card stock, rather than regular printer paper, for printing the image onto. This is my first instructables project. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1 reply

    Sounds like you made some cool modifications. Any chance I can talk you into posting photos of your boxes?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I will make this for my mom this valentines day, shes a x-ray tech. I will fill it with heart shaped candies, a pardox of hearts.

    2 replies