Despite the many digital devices being used in our house that could potentially wipe out the need for paper, we still regularly use written notes and lists. We also seem to have no shortage of letter sized paper in our scrap paper pile that is printed only on one side.
My note/list paper solution for many years, has been to rip the printed one side sheets up into more manageable sized pieces by quartering them, and then keeping a pile handy in the corner of a kitchen drawer - it works, but is not always pretty, and sometimes you really have to dig around...
To solve this problem, I decided to design a simple box that would perfectly fit a quartered sheet of letter sized paper.
Step 1: Materials and Equipment:
a pile of 8 1/2" x 11" scrap paper headed for the recycling (printed one side)
wood glue (Titebond III)
access to a laser cutter
design files (created in CorelDRAW)
acrylic paint and paint brush (optional)
Step 2: Box Design
To design my scrap paper box, I took advantage of the online BoxMaker program to speed things up. I entered the dimensions of my box into the program, knowing that I would be working with 1/8" material and wanting the final inside dimensions to be 5 1/2" x 4 1/4" (to accommodate a 1/4 sheet of letter sized paper).
I imported the pdf file created in BoxMaker to CorelDRAW, and tweaked the design to turn it into an open box by discarding the top piece and flattening the tops of the sides. I then added a slot on the front side to make it easier to access the paper.
Step 3: Cut Out and Assemble Your Box
Cut out the pieces for your box using a laser cutter. I used speed/power/ frequency settings of 12/80/20, to cut 1/8" birch plywood on a 60 watt Epilog Fusion laser cutter.
Dry fit your pieces together to make sure everything fits, and then use a paint brush to apply a bit of glue to the top surface of each of the finger joint tabs (photo).
Assemble your box, gluing one side together at a time. Check the inside of your box for any excess glue and clean it up with the paint brush, by wiping it off on a rag.
To keep your box joints in position while the glue is drying, you can use a couple of small clamps in either direction (if you have them), or wrap a couple of large elastics around your box in both directions. If you are just using elastics, check and make sure your corners are good and tight.
Once the glue is completely dry, remove clamps and elastics, and lightly sand the edges of your box.
Step 4: Rip Up Some Scrap Paper
Grab your pile of scrap paper and turn it lengthways in front of you.
Fold a few pages in half, from right to left or vice versa, matching up the corners.
Crease the paper hard on your fold-line, using a fingernail, bone folder or other handy tool and rip the paper along the fold line. Put the half sheets aside and continue to work your way through your pile.
Next, take your pile of half sheets, turn it lengthways in front of you and repeat the above steps; fold a few pages in half, crease hard on the fold and rip in half. Put the quarter sheets aside as you go, and work your way through the pile.
Step 5: Paint the Front of Your Box - Distressed Red/yellow/orange
Start with an undercoat of white paint and let it dry. Then paint over the white paint with yellow and let it dry.
Finally, paint over the yellow paint with red (I added a bit of black on one corner) and let it dry a little bit, but not too much, and then take a damp tissue or rag and wipe off a bit of the red paint here and there, to reveal some of the yellow and let it dry.
To finish it off, take a bit of sandpaper and sand off any paint that got on the sides of your box. Then sand the edges and other areas where you want to reveal some of the under colours, even going down to the white and wood in areas if you like how that looks, until you are happy with the way it looks. There is no exact formula, just experiment to see what you like.
Step 6: Paint the Front of Your Box - Distressed Yellow/blue/green
Once again, start with an undercoat of white paint and let it dry. Then paint over the white paint with yellow and let it dry.
Next, paint over the yellow paint with dark blue paint mixed with a bit of yellow to make a dark green and let it dry a little bit, but not too much, and take a damp tissue or rag and wipe off some of the green paint to reveal some of the yellow and let it dry. I wasn't really happy with the way it looked yet, so I painted over most of the front again, with a layer of dark blue mixed with white and let it dry.
This time I sanded off some of the blue to reveal bits of yellow and green.
To finish, sand off any paint that got on the sides of your box.
Step 7: Fill With Scrap Paper
All done. You now have a beautiful custom box, nice enough to take right out of the kitchen drawer and sit on top of the counter. Load it up with scrap paper, slip a sheet off the top, and get started on that to do list!