Introduction: Laser Cut Tissue Box
In this tutorial, I will walk you through creating your very own customized and stylish tissue box cover. This cover is designed to fit the smaller square tissue boxes, not the large rectangle ones.
Lately I've been on a mission to improve my apartment and make it more presentable. If you want to check out some of the other DIY home improvement projects I've done to this end, check out my profile.
For this tutorial, you will need the following files. I typically design in Adobe Illustrator, so I have the .ai file handy. However, I realize many people use a different graphics design software, so I have included a pdf version of the design for them. Go ahead and download the following files:
Step 1: Getting Your Tools and Materials
This tutorial assumes you have access to and operator's knowledge of a CNC lasercutter. As each machine's software and interface are drastically different, I'll have to assume that you know how to operate the laser cutter you will be using. The laser I used accepts illustrator files, which is why I uploaded the design as an .ai file. However, I also uploaded the .pdf for people who use a different software. Open the .pdf file in your laser's software, as pdf's are very standard file types and should be accepted by your laser's software.
In addition to a cnc laser cutter, you will need a few quick release clamps or rubber bands.
As for materials, you will need a sheet of 1/8" plywood. A sheet about 12" by 24" will be surely sufficient. You can get one for just a couple bucks at a local hardware store.
You will also need some wood glue. Any wood glue will do, but I used Elmers wood glue. You can also use hot glue or super glue, but wood glue will give you the best results.
For the last step you will need a small can of wood stain. This can also be acquired at your local hardware store for just a few bucks.
Step 2: Customizing the File
In this step, I am going to show you how to customize the image on the tissue box. For the default, I have included an image of the instructables robot, but I will show you guys how to make it anything you want.
Note: for this step, I will be providing the directions in Adobe Illustrator.
If you use a different program, it will be up to you to find the analagous commands within your program, which shouldn't be too difficult.
First off, go ahead and open the file within your graphics edittor. Find an image you would like rastered onto the side of your tissue box cover. It can be a photo from google images, or even a photo you have taken yourself. In Illustrator, navigate to file-->open and find your image. This will open the image in a new artboard.
Once you bring in an image, click on it to select it. This should open up some new options in the top tool bar. Namely, image trace. Click image trace, and the image will change color somewhat. On the far left side fo the top tool bar is a drop down menu titled preset (this is still only visible if the image is selected). Click the menu to drop it down and select black and white logo. This will make the image black and white, so it will raster better. Copy the image, and paste it into the tissue box pieces file I have provided. Next, select and delete the default image I included in the file, and paste in your modified image in its place. Now, you are ready to cut out your customized file.
Step 3: Laser Cutting the Pieces
I used a Universal Systems Laser Cutter. It has a materials data base in which you select materials and the machine then knows what power/speed/ppi settings to use. I used the material 'general medium woods' and set the thickness to .120 (using my calipers). I will have to assume for this part that you know how to use your own laser cutter, because they vary significantly from model to model.
Go ahead and cut out the pieces from the provided file. Afterwards, collect all the pieces and grab your wood glue and clamps. Bring them all over to your work table and get situated.
Step 4: Assembly
First, grab the top piece and one of the side pieces. Add some wood glue into the indented parts of the top and side. Next, fit the top and a side piece together. Repeat this process, adding wood glue to the next side piece and then adding that side, continuing until all 4 sides have been added. At this point, you may notice some wood glue leaking out of the sides. Grab a paper towel or cloth and wipe down the corners to remove this before it dries.
Make sure your images are facing the right way and not on the inside of the tissue box.
After all the pieces have been glued together, add some clamps to hold it all together while it dries. You can also use rubber bands to this end. Its best to allow the wood glue to cure for the full recommeneded time, usually about 24 hours, but it should be fine to handle after an hour or so.
Once the model has dried, bring it to a well-ventilated area to apply the wood stain.
Step 5: Staining the Model
Since this object is meant to be asthetic, not functional, I felt I should add a stain to the wood. I used a fume hood in my workshop that people use to spray paint and what not. I would also recommend wearing some latex gloves or something, because if you get any stain on your hands it is hard to wash off.
After you have set up, get a paint brush or paper towel and dip it in the stain. Gently wipe it onto the side of the tissue box. You don't want to use too much, or it will fill in the image and make it more difficult to see. If you are careful, you can leave the inside of the image unstained so it stands out prominently. Leave the cover in its well-ventilated area for a few hours to dry.
There you have it, the tissue box cover it done! It fit my standard tissue box perfectly. Not too tight, but a snug fit so it isn't loose inside. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial. If you would like to see similar DIY home improvement projects, check out my profile. Also, if you have any questions about this project or ideas for similar ones, I'd love to hear them so feel free to leave a comment.
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