Like a lot of people, I've been playing a ton of Super Mario Odyssey. It's a lotta fun and these question blocks are all over the kingdoms. I've already made 2 boxes on this site & something from Mario; this project was bound to happen.
This is a real nice smooth tutorial that requires minimal tools and materials, and can be simplified even further to the most basic materials & supplies. All the plastic I used were scrap sheets, destined to be thrown away & the other supplies was stuff I've accumulated. In other words, it's free!
This little block measures 15cm cubed with about 13cm cubed of interior space, perfect for trinkets both Mario and non-Mario related.
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Step 1: Tools/Materials
- PVC sheet (9mm) [Alternatively MDF, Acrylic, Cardboard etc.]
- 4mm Acrylic [cap & question pieces]
- White Primer
- Yellow Spray Paint
- Epoxy Glue
- Sandpaper/Sandpaper Blocks (120, 240 grit)
- Body Filler
- Painters Tape
- Hand FIle
- Laser cutter [optional]
- Power sander [optional]
- Utility Knife
- Drill + Drill Bits
Step 2: Plans, 3D Model, References, Screenshots
I've got some free plans for the taking, so you can jump straight into the project! Just keep in mind that the plans for the box uses 9mm thick material so if your box material differs, you'll have to account for it! Same thing applies for upscaling and downscaling.
For those who want it, I got 3D plans I made as well. Link here for models.
Step 3: The Box
Most of this project is the box itself so it's important you do this right. My choice of material is recycled 9mm PVC sheet for I had plentiful amounts of scrap to use. Again, remember if your thickness of material differs, you'll have to account for it. For other materials, MDF can be used instead, like my Portal Cube Build.
Following my plans, you'll have the Base, 2 Long Sides, 2 Short Sides, and the Lid.
I cut mine out using a jigsaw and cleaned up on a disc sander for nice flat edges.
Start with the base, glue the 2 short sides on opposite ends against the base, then close the sides with the 2 long sides, forming the walls around the base. The lid and cap will come later.
I used superglue to glue it all together; superglue is amazing on PVC sheet. Should you use MDF, wood glue is ideal, If Acrylic, acrylic cement. Whatever material you use, use appropriate adhesive.
If after construction your box sides aren't entirely flat at the top, a flat board with smooth sandpaper taped down can be used to flatten the top.
Step 4: The Lid
The lid is a snap-fit design, that locks in with minimal interference. I didn't want any visible hinges or latches for this box; it would ruin the look.
[Note] The cap is the same dimensions as the base but made with 4mm material instead.
To get a perfect fit, slide the cap into the box with a small protrusion, apply glue, add the lid piece on top and gently push down while lining it up against the box. This step is pretty tricky so take your time and think it through first. If your lid has some overhang after alignment, you can easily blend it with a flat file & sandpaper.
[Note] it's very likely that your box won't be absolutely perfect (mine was off by a millimeter or 2 in areas) so your cap may need tweaking to get a snug fit into the box. Adding registration marks to the box and the lid helps keep track of the best fit.
Step 5: Refining
During the construction of the box, imperfections (both minor and major) are almost inevitable like small seam lines and small dents; PVC is particularly susceptible to dents. The best one step solution is car body filler.
Mixing both catalyst and filler, apply over seams and dents with a filler knife. All you want to do here is skim over the surfaces, using the bare minimum of filler for minimal cleanup.
Once the filler has hardened and cured, a light sanding (240 grit) cleans it up in a flash.
Step 6: Corners and Holes
The box has a couple features on it that need adding, or in this case, subtracting. All the corners need a slight chamfer adding to them, a flat file & sanding blocks, made with sandpaper, blocks of MDF and double sided tape does a quick job of that.
To replicate the holes, a drill is the way go to. I added some tape to mark how deep I wanted the holes to go. I went with a 9mm drill bit for this; it's supposed to be 11mm at this scale but this was too close to the lid for me; the choice is up to you in the end.
In hindsight, I would of used a drill press and set the depth so I would get perfect holes everytime, but I made do with a regular power drill. You can even skip this step entirely and just paint the circles, it's entirely up to your preference.
Step 7: Question Block Piece(s) [Method #1]
The question piece can be made in so many ways so anyone can achieve this step, even with minimal tools. Here's a few ways it can be done:
#1-Laser cut: The cleanest and most efficient way is a laser cutter. If you have access to one, use the included SVG in the plans step and cut it out! This method is my prefered choice. I used 4mm scrap acrylic for this.
Step 8: Question Block Piece(s) [Method #2-3]
#2-Bandsaw: Transfer the template to your material & cut out! a Jigsaw, Scroll saw and Coping saw will all have the same outcome. Great for thicker materials!
#3-Hand Cut: Transfer template on thin white Styrene or PVC (1-2mm) & cut it with a utility knife. PVC is soft enough that it cuts right through and styrene can be scored and snapped clean. Really good option if you don't have access to power tools.
Step 9: Question Block Piece(s) [Method #4-5]
#4-Vinyl: A sheet of white self-adhesive vinyl works by cutting out the template & applying it to the box. Pre-paint the box yellow and stick'em on!
#5-Paint! If none of these options apply to you, you can simply paint the question block! Using a white surface, mask the area with painters tape and cut out the template, then paint yellow!
Step 10: Paint & Assemble
Whatever way you chose to make your question pieces, now it's time for paint! If you used white material for the question pieces, you're in luck! No painting required. For the box however, you'll likely need to paint it like I did.
Yellow paint is notoriously weak pigmented; white primer is the solution to that. If you're using a material that's porous (like MDF) you'll want to seal the box entirely with PVA or emulsion as well as spray primer but for PVC this isn't necessary. Regular white spray paint will work fine as well.
Apply the yellow. It may take a couple coats it really depends on the surface and the paint. Build up layers until you achieve a consistent bold yellow. My cans of Tamiya yellow worked wonders. To break up the yellow a little, I used my darker can of yellow and lightly sprayed the edges of each surface; it's subtle but it looks good.
After seeing it in paint, the holes I drilled didn't look so great, likely due to the heat of the drill bit pressing against the soft material; an issue unique to PVC sheet it seems... Using Milliput, an 8mm acrylic rod piece & plenty of water, I squished the Milliput into the holes with the rod. I had to paint over again but it was worth it.
When the paint is thoroughly dry (give it a good day or overnight) glue the question pieces onto the block with epoxy or gel super glue. For alignment, use the template provided to line up accurately.
Step 11: Done!
There it is, one finished box, ready to store stuff and whatnot.
This box was pretty fun to make & it makes a nice addition to my collection of gaming stuff.
If you make one of these I'd love to see it, especially if your approach and choice of materials differ from mine, like metal or hardwood :)
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