My plan was to design a solid index box that would allow me to use commercial recipe cards and dividers to (help) organize a recipe collection that has gotten way out of hand.
If your recipes are actually written out on index cards, this box will hold a maximum of 500 (tight) of the standard 3" x 5" index cards (sold at most office supply stores).
Since my recipes are in fact a mishmash collection made up of paper scraps, plastic wrappers, boxes, napkins and the odd index card, my box will hold many fewer items.
Organizing my collection, will also likely involve making a whole series of wildflower boxes!
Step 1: Materials and Equipment
- CorelDRAW design file
- .25" baltic birch plywood
- access to a laser cutter - I used Epilog 60 watt fusion at YuKonstruct our local makerspace
- wood glue - I used Titebond III
- heavy duty elastics or clamps - to hold box together while the glue dries
- leather 5 1/2" x 1" (I used a scrap of 2mm thick vegetable tanned)
- Waxed linen thread or heavy button hole thread
- Darning needle
- Faber-Castell artist pens (or other waterproof markers or pens)
- inspiration for embellishment (local wildflower; Aster sibiricus now known as
Eurybia sibirica - thanks Astermax)
Step 2: Cut, Assemble, Glue and Clamp
Box pieces: Using the CorelDRAW design file (attached in previous step), set your print settings and cut out your box using 1/4" birch plywood (Photo 1). I used speed/power/frequency settings of 6/100/12 to cut 1/4" baltic birch plywood with a 60 watt Epilog Fusion laser cutter.
Leather hinge: Using the leather hinge layer (Photo 2) and your leather scrap, cut out the hinge on the laser cutter. Be warned that it can smell a bit unpleasant. Alternatively, you can cut the hinge out with scissors or a leather cutting tool and use a leather punch or awl to make the holes.
Start by dry fitting your pieces together (Photos 3-5). This is good to do before gluing to be sure; everything fits, you have all the pieces, and that you know where they need to go.
Lay out the pieces in two groups, with the top and the bottom pieces together.
Use a small paint brush to apply a bit of glue to the top surface of each of the finger joint tabs on the sides of the pieces you are joining. Work your way around one group at a time, applying glue and adding one piece at a time.
Once all sides of the top and bottom are glued, use clamps or thick elastics in both directions, to apply pressure and keep the joints in place. Let the glue dry.
Once the glue is completely dry, remove elastics and/or clamps, and lightly sand the edges of your box.
Step 3: Adding the Leather Hinge
Bottom half of hinge (Photos 1-6):
Cut off a piece of waxed linen thread about 12" long.
Flatten the last couple of inches of thread by pulling it through your finger nails, to help you thread your needle. Thread your needle.
Beginning with the bottom part of your box, place the hinge in position on the outside with the holes lined up. Take your threaded needle and beginning on the inside of the box at one end, thread the needle through the second hole, from the inside to the outside of the box (photo 3 & 4). Return to the inside of the box through the first hole and go back to the outside by skipping one hole and going through the third hole (photo 5). Hold the tail of the thread across the holes and be sure to catch it in your return thread for at least a couple of holes to secure it (photos 5 & 8). Continue in this way until you reach the end of the row and the stitches are evenly filled in (photo 9). Tuck the end of the thread under threads in the back to secure it and trim any excess on either end,
Note: If you don't have waxed linen you can use button hole thread and run it through a piece of beeswax or a candle.
Top half of hinge (Photos 7-14):
Its a little bit trickier to do the second half of the hinge, only because of the awkwardness of having the two ends right there. The stitching pattern is the same as the bottom, with the only difference being that the stitches will be a bit loose at first. Once you are about half way along you can start tightening it up a bit. Threading pattern: Start from the inside. Go out through hole 2, back through hole 1, out 3, in 2, out 4, in 3, out 5 etc. When you reach the end of the hinge tighten up your thread if it is loose, tuck in the ends and trim any excess thread.
Check out the link to an earlier Instructable I made for a Leather Hinged Business Card Holder, to see additional photos detailing how to add the leather box hinge.
Step 4: Ink Drawing Embellishment
Oh boy, I found these awesome Faber-Castell artist pens (markers), that are lightfast, waterproof and permanent! And, they worked really well applied directly on the unfinished wood surface of my box.
Photos 2-12 above, show the evolution of my interpretation of one of our local wildflowers, Aster sibiricus now known as Eurybia sibirica, using Faber-Castell artist pens.
Decorate your box anyway you like! Start from a photo of a wildflower like I did, or maybe make a colourful abstract doodle covering the top, or all sides of your box.
If you don't have markers, you could use acrylic paints or whatever your have on hand. For details on using layers of acrylic paint to embellish your box, follow this link to my Scrap Paper Box Instructable.
Step 5: Fill Up Your Box!
Think outside the box! Use your new box to organize your recipes, or for other things like; project ideas, wildlife sightings, travel destinations or a bucket list!
Add a set of dividers (see example of alphabet style above) to categorize things to help you better organize and access your collection.