Match Box Cover



About: Student, currently studying for my masters degree in Automotive Engineering. Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering. Car nerd living in Sweden.

During dinner, my girlfriend and I like to light up candles. To light the candles, we usually use matches, and since we are lazy, the matchbox ends up laying on the table next to the candles. However, matchboxes are not very pretty to look at. A while ago, I came across a solution to this which consisted of a black cover for the matchbox. To personalize and improve this solution, I decided to make a copper cover for the matchbox.

This instructable will present step by step instructions on how you can design and create your own matchbox cover for the matchbox design that you have.

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Step 1: Reflection/Do Differently

In this instructable, I will present the step by step explanation in the order I performed the steps. However, a tip is to first saw out the front pattern, then bend one side and saw the opening on that side. If you do it like me, and first saw out the opening on both sides, it will be hard to get nice square bends since the material will lose its strength.

If you end up doing it as I did anyway, i.e. sawing out the openings first, be sure to strengthen the material with some wood in to get the bend where you want it.

Step 2: Materials and Tools

The materials for this projects are very few. All you need is a matchbox of your own choice, sheet metal (I went for copper) and a piece of scrap wood in the size of the matchbox.

As goes for tools and materials, I would recommend the following,

  • Handsaw
  • Saw blades, preferably thin ones
  • Drill + drill bit for drilling in metal
  • Sandpaper
  • Files
  • Plainer (optional)
  • Hammer
  • Glue
  • Clamp

Step 3: Design

The easiest way to create your template is to scan the matchbox. Import the scanned image into the Word-template that I have attached and resize/adjust the lines to match the dimensions of your matchbox. Print the document and you have your template.

Step 4: Sheet Metal

If you have a big piece of sheet metal, start by sawing/cutting our a smaller piece according to your dimensions from the template. I marked the piece using a metal nail and then sawed it by hand since cutting might bend the piece. Since I did not saw entirely straight, I adjusted the piece with a sander and a hand file. Then, I glued the template onto the metal with wood glue.

Step 5: Openings to Light Matches

To be able to saw out the openings to light the matches, drill out holes so that you can attach the saw in the piece. Decide if you want round or square ends for the stripes where you will light the match. If you want square ends, use a file or saw in order to create these. As you can see in the images, I went with round ends.

Step 6: The Pattern of the Matchbox

The main step of this instructable is to saw out the pattern that is on the matchbox. When I did this, I sawed out small pieces at a time, e.g. I started with the body and then continued with the hands. To get a nice result I fine-tuned the edges and hard to get to areas, such as the nose, with small files. To avoid filing the wrong area, use a metal piece as shown in picture 3 to protect finished areas. Another thing to consider is how thick your saw blades are. For instance, for the hairs, I had to switch to a thinner blade. Also, do not be surprised if you will break a few blades in this step so be sure to buy a few extra. I went through 4 blades in total for the whole project.

If you do not have a good table that you can fix the metal part to, saw out a plank as shown in picture 6 since this makes it easy to keep the metal still while sawing, thereby saving a lot of headaches.

Step 7: Surface Finish

Depending on the surface finish you choose, you may postpone this step or perform it now. If you want a polished or painted surface, skip this step and perform it after bending the metal into shape, since the bending likely will result in new scratches and indentations.

I went with a brushed metal surface, meaning a few additional scratches from the bending step will not affect the surface finish significantly. I started off sanding the piece with 300 grit sandpaper to remove all larger scratches. Then I sanded it with 400 grit sandpaper and finished off with sanding the piece with 500 grit sandpaper.

Step 8: Template for Bending

To bend the metal to enclose the matchbox, a template is needed since there will be two bends on each side. Find a piece of scrap wood and saw a piece out according to the dimensions of your matchbox. The scrap Wood that I had laying around was a bit too thick, which is why I had to plain it down to 25 mm.

Step 9: Bending the Matchbox Cover

As I mentioned earlier, sawing out the openings results in weakening the metal significantly. This made it troublesome for me to get sharp bends. To bend the metal, I strengthened it with pieces of wood as well as that I used a wood plank during the bending of the metal to distribute the pressure.

This worked decently, but it would have been easier to bend one side and then saw out the opening.

Step 10: Finished Product

And at last, put the matchbox into the cover, and forget about the ugly matchbox that was always laying on the table. Instead, you end up with a nice display item which also serves as a good conversation piece.

Thank for reading to the end. If anything is unclear or you have any comments/feedback, please let me know! Have a nice day!


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    19 Discussions


    20 days ago

    Very nicely done and a great idea, have to try this one day. Voted for you.


    21 days ago

    I love the use of copper even with the tarnishing later to green - which is also a lovely color to contrast with the copper. You made the simple matchbox into an elegant piece. Thanks for the write-up! I voted for your project.


    22 days ago

    This is a very nice work. But copper becomes green after a while and looks ugly. Why didn't you use stainless steal or aluminium instead?


    Reply 22 days ago

    Thanks! Yes most people should be able to make this one at home :)


    26 days ago

    Brilliant idea friend... And nicely did it... Wow...

    1 reply

    27 days ago

    One more project for me to do in winter ;)

    1 reply
    Penolopy Bulnick

    27 days ago

    I love how perfectly you cut that person out so the outside colors don't show but the details on the person do :)

    1 reply

    27 days ago

    Very interesting and creative nice pictures too.

    1 reply

    Reply 22 days ago

    Thank you, photography is another hobby of mine ;)


    23 days ago

    Cutting out the picture is a classy touch! I have an older version that belonged to my parents that is bent differently, with the open part on one side instead of the bottom. This is simpler, exposing the striker on that side without needing any cutouts in the metal. When that striker wears out you just reverse the box. The disadvantage is that it's harder to tell when the box is right-side up to avoid dumping matches all over.