Archive for the ‘Boxes’ Category


It’s hard to believe but my books and boxes will be going on display soon.  My College sponsors displays of different faculty, student, and staff artwork, and I’m going to participate.

There will be an opening reception next Monday, and I’m nervous about it.  After the opening, my stuff will be on display on the first floor of our library.  It’s weird.

I’m excited and I’m nervous.  I’m a dedicated introvert who is trying to become more extroverted, and this will certainly help in that regard.  Of course, my running off on vacation for a week after the opening, may put me back a bit. 🙂

I’m also lucky enough that my job encourages us to take time to pursue our research interests.  So, my application to take time to pursue creating a studio and continuing my studies of bookbinding was approved!  Yeah, I get to take one day a week to work on this for the spring semester.  I will most probably have to do this at my workplace though.  Working at home is still very hard.  My son (2 years old) demands all of my attention when I’m home, and I can’t blame him or resist him.

I’m thinking that perhaps I can do something fun with him in the mornings and then pursue binding in the afternoons.  Keep your fingers crossed.

I’ve gotten several of K. Smith’s books, and I’m going to use them for the basis of my continued studies.

Hopefully, this will also mean that my blogging will once again become regular.

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Upcoming projects

Well, I’ve got my next project lined up.  I’m going to create cases for my husband’s and my manga collection.  Right now, we have them on the top of our tallest bookcase, and the dust hasn’t been kind.  I just got the boards.  Now, I’ve got to go hit the hardware store.  I need a C-clamp and a T-Square.  I’ll be cutting the boards by hand, so I’ll really need a straight edge.  One day I hope that I’ll be able to get a board cutter, but until then, I hope I’ll be able to cut straight lines. 🙂

The collections I’ll be boxing are Psychic Girl Mai, Gunsmith Cats, Cowboy Beebop, Lupin III, and Nausicaa.  After I manage to do these, I’ll be creating cases for our DVD collections.  Sure I could buy ready-made cases for the DVDs, but I want to be able to stack them in the bookcase.  We’ll see how it goes.

My other happy discovery this week was in finding bookcloth hiding at the top of my son’s closet.  I was cleaning the closet out, and there it was.  Yeah!!!!!!  There isn’t a lot, but there’s enough for me to complete several books as long as I only want to use the cloth for hinges.  Yeah!!!!!!

Now to find the time to actually do these projects and to find the space.  We’ve been renovating one of our rooms.  Once it’s done, I’ll have a place to work – I think.  🙂  Keep your fingers crossed.

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Folding Box

Wow! It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. Sorry. I haven’t had a lot of time lately. We’ve been experimenting with a new bedtime routine for our son, and while it’s been going well; I’ve been left a little tired. 🙂

But, I’m back now and ready to write about the folding box. I actually have all the pieces, bookcloth, and paper to finish a second one here at home. Perhaps, I’ll do that this weekend.

What’s really nice about this box is that it’s easy to make multiples. Barbara does have it in the book she wrote but showed us a slightly different method in class. In her book, she calls it the “Postcard Box.” If these posts have gotten you interested in box making, I highly recommend you find her book. She has great information on adhesives, papers, and everthing involved.

Anyway, I created this box to hold 4×6 photos, so I used 60-point board to make it. My notes say to never use more than 80-point. It’s easy to make multiples of this box, because basically, you cut five identical boards to make the box. Then several of the pieces get trimmed. So once you know the dimensions, it’s easy to cut out multiples. The only piece that gets cut separately is the cover because that needs to be slightly larger.

Once the pieces were cut, I cut a piece of bookcloth that would accommodate the cover, spine, base, fore-edge wall, and fore-edge. These pieces are laid out on the bookcloth in a continuous line. Of course, the grain in the cloth had to match the grain direction of the boards, which was running head to tail.

Covering the box

Gluing the pieces is done like any other box. Apply mixture to the board and lay it onto the cloth. The cover is placed first being sure to leave 1/2 inch at the end and about 3/4 inch at the head and tail. A spacer (2 board thicknesses) is used to make sure that enough room will be left for the spine. A straight edge is placed on the top of the cover so that the next piece will be perfectly aligned. And so on.

Head and Tail wallsOnce all the pieces were on I glued the top and bottom turnins down and used my bone folder with a piece of newsprint to fold the cloth into the spine. Then I glued the ends. The next step was gluing the head and tail walls.

This was a little different. They were glued normally, except that I had to leave a 1-inch turnin uncut. This piece is what is used to attach the head and tail walls to the base of the box.

The next step was applying hinges and paper. Now, before the hinges were applied, it was necessary to determine which type of closure I wanted on the box. If I were going to use ribbon, that would have needed to be done first. This is because I would have wanted to hide the ribbon on the inside as I did with my other box. In this case, the ribbon would have gone through the cover to create the holder and through the fore-edge wall for the ribbon with bone clasp. Then the hinges. But, I chose to do a button closure on this box and there would be no way to hide the elastic, so I went forward with the hinging.

Attaching the head and tailHinges are applied over the spine, the fore-edge wall, and the head and tail walls. Once the hinges are done, the head and tail walls are attached to the base. Next up, I applied my decorative paper to all bare surfaces, and pressed the box.

If you note in the picture, the hinge piece for the head and tail extended to the end.  Then a small cornering piece was cut off so that when it was glued onto the base, it would be neater and wouldn’t extend into the spine on either side of the base.

I don’t have a picture of this box in its finished state.  I actually still have to add the closure to it. So, I’ll be visiting a store and looking at buttons very soon. 🙂

One of my classmates, Carol, was making this box for a small bar of soap and cut enough pieces to do 60 of them, I think.  eeek!  She made some really beautiful boxes. In two of my classes now, I’ve encountered people who are going to library school, and I just love that.  Carol was one of them.

I head back to class next week to learn about creating carosel books.  Yeah!

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This was the last box I made on the last day of class no less. I couldn’t believe how simple it turned out to be. It’s basically just a three-walled tray with a top. I had always wanted to know the secret of how the box was lined inside, and now I do. It was so obvious once Barbara told me. You line the box before you assemble it!

So, the steps to make a slipcase were:

  1. Cut the boards obviously, based upon the size of the book, adding in cloth thicknesses here and there plus board thicknesses here and there
  2. Line the boards with paper – be sure the grain of the paper runs in the same direction as the board, and glue up the paper not the board. The trick with this is to align the paper perfectly in one corner, so be sure its squared. This will leave an overlap of paper on two other edges.
  3. Sand off the overlapping paper. This is done by placing the board on a table and drawing the sander down along the edge. Doing it this way won’t change the shape of the box. The paper comes off very easily, leaving a clean edge.
  4. Glue as normal for a three-walled box.
  5. With the spine facing you, test fit the lid.
  6. Glue edges and place the lid on; fitting it to the spine first.
  7. Let sit with a board and weight on it.
  8. Line the outside of the box to hide the seams and give the box a better appearance. This lining is applied the same way as the lining paper. I’m not sure whether I used museum board or simply a heavy-weight paper to do this. All I can recall is that it was white. Hmmmmm.
  9. The book cloth is cut to fold around the box with the grain running from head to tail. It should have at least a 1/2 inch margin at the head and tail and 1 inch on the length.
  10. Cover the box with the cloth.
  11. Pinch the cloth at the head to create an extension of the corner seam and cut a straight line so that the spine and two sides are separated.
  12. Fold the two sides in on the top and find the middle.  Cut the middle line so that both sides meet equally.
  13. Trimming the head and tailFold the spine tab over the top and cut a triangle that runs from the outside corners of the spine to the middle line. This triangle should go through the two side pieces as well.
  14. Glue it all down and cut a piece of fabric to fit that will be slightly smaller to cover the top. This will hide the seams and give it a neater appearance.
  15. Trimming the cornersCut the corners on the fore-edge, like those on the three-sided box where there is a mirror image cut.
  16. Measure the shorter side to be turned in and trim the other pieces to match. This will give an even edge once it is all glued in. Presumably. I messed this up a bit, but that’s okay. It’s only my first slipcover. 🙂

Finished slipcase

So, I know this post wasn’t quite as descriptive as the others, but it’s meant to build on them and simply show the slight differences that this box requires. I didn’t take many photos because of this.

You might notice that I’m wearing a band-aid in one of these. It seems that I can’t avoid injury. This time I tried to crush my finger in the board cutter. How would that device crush it? Well, there is a pressure clamp that holds the board in place as its being cut, and I was trimming a thin piece that I wanted to keep square and didn’t realize I was going to clamp my finger until I started to. Oooops. The injury actually reminded me a lot of the time I slammed my hand in the car door as a teenager. Ah, such is life.

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Making a Clamshell Box

The main difference with the clamshell is that you create two three-walledtrays, one of which sits inside the other. The process for creating the trays is exactly the same in terms of how to measure and cut and glue together. There are some changes in the measurements where you add cloth thicknesses in and a dust strip in the case of the base, but the basic procedure is the same.

So for this, I began by using the book I was enclosing to measure the base. The base is then used to determine the measurements for the dust strip and the covering tray. The covering tray is used to determine the measurements for the case.

First cutsWhat’s really different is covering the trays. There are additional cuts that need to be made to the cloth because it is a three-walled tray. Like the four-walled tray, I made the angled cut on the longer walls, but in this case, the spine wall is open. So the angled cut is actually made to both sides of the corner, giving a mirror image.

Second cuts The next cuts are made at the top of the head and tail walls. You basically cut a straight line extending the edge of the board in each direction, but leaving about one board thickness. This is then where you make an angled cut.

Glued base tray This tray is then glued starting at the spine edge, then head and tail, and finally the fore-edge. Those extra cuts make sure that all of the corners are properly covered. At this point, we test fit our books to make sure that they fit. If not, it was time to start over. I made this box for one of the books that I completed in Bookbinding II, and I was happy to note it fit!

I’m afraid that I was rather lacking in the photo taking department for this box. But, these should give a basic idea of how it differs from the other boxes.  Anyway, after making the base, it’s used to measure for the cover. Once the cover is covered in cloth, that needs to be test fit over the base. Again, it was a nice fit. Making this box was like a dream. I couldn’t believe it.

Anyway, at this point, the cover is used to measure for the case. The case is cut and covered exactly the same way I did for the previous box. One thing I should point out is that mixture (PVC/methyl cellulose) was used exclusively in gluing the cloth to the boards. The main difference with this box is that scrap cloth is used to fill in the inside of the case as well as the outside baseboard of both trays.

CaseCovered Baseboard

The trays are then glued to the case using straight PVA. The larger tray is glued in first. This is done by centering it on the cover and making sure that the spine edges were flush. The hard part of this was that after the tray is glued in, we needed to have boards that fit the tray exactly and exceeded its depth. This was so that we could put it into the press. After it had pressed for at least 20 minutes, the smaller tray could also be glued in. For me, this meant creating a block from board cut especially to fit my tray. The book I was enclosing was so small that there weren’t any boards that fit the smaller tray/base.

Lining paperThe next step is applying the hinge. This too is done exactly the same as on the last box. Then lining paper is added. After that, it was time to add the dust strip.

The dust strip is a covered board that is added that fits inside the smaller tray creating an enclosed spine. This keeps the dust that always gathers on the top of everything, especially in my house, from getting to the book. Dust stripI found this part to be fun. With the book in the smaller tray, I test fit several boards to figure out which weight board to use that would fit the tray snuggly. For my box, I used 80-pt board for the dust strip.

The strip is cut so that it is slightly shorter than the height of the tray and slightly smaller than the height of the walls. The dust strip is then covered with cloth. The fun part is adhering it to the spine. You can’t simply eyeball it because it has to fit inside the smaller tray. So, you glue the back with straight PVA and lay it cloth side down in the smaller tray. (Yes, I removed the book first. 🙂 ) Then the spine of the case is folded up to meet the walls of the smaller tray and the dust strip is reversed onto the spine very carefully. Holding it in place, the spine is laid back down, so that the strip can be pressed into place. Yes, weights are applied.

Et viola, a finished clamshell. 🙂  I went with a plain cover.  An inset could have been added to the cover and that would actually be the last step.  I am really proud of this box and actually believe that I could make another. I think it fits my book beautifully.

Finished clamshell

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Casing a Tray

Laying out the caseCreating a case for a box is really just the same as you would do it for a book. You need a lid, base, and spine.

I measured a piece of cloth that would give me about a 1-inch margin all around. After test fitting it, I glued out the first board with mixture and applied it to the cloth. Using a spacerThen I placed my triangle along the top to ensure that I would lay all the pieces in a straight line. I had a two-board spacer that I placed next to the first piece before gluing the spine. The spacer ensures that enough space is left between the two boards so that the hinge will bend.

Basically, I glue all the boards first onto the cloth, flip it over carefully, cover with clean newsprint, and then rub each covered board with my bone folder to ensure that there are no bubbles.

Then it’s a matter of trimming the corners, and gluing down the turn-ins. This gluing usually starts with the head and tail. This is because you need to work the cloth into the hinges. Anyway, the corners are trimmed at about a 45° angle leaving a board thickness between the cut and the boards. Gluing inThis board thickness is needed to cover the corner neatly without creating too much thickness at the corners.

As the cloth is folded over the hinges, it’s important to use a bone folder to work it into the hinge. Also, I learned to try and pinch the corner triangle in slightly so that I wouldn’t create a really sharp corner. Pinching it in rounds the corner slightly and looks a lot nicer.

Depending upon the project the next step is either applying the hinge or filling in the case. Filling in the case simply means using additional bookcloth to cover the visible board. I can’t remember why this is important. Hmmmm.

Applying the hingeSo for this project, I applied a hinge. The hinge cloth is cut so that there is about 2 inches of cloth on either side of the spine that will be adhered to the boards. I always mark where to lay the hinge on one of the boards. The height of the hinge is usually slightly shorter than the height of the case. Cloth frays so you don’t want to have it go right to the edge, plus leaving it slightly shorter gives it a neater appearance on the finished product. To glue the hinge, you begin by applying it to one board, cover it with newsprint, and use the bone folder to smooth it on the board and work it towards the first hinge. Then, the bone folder is used to really work the cloth into the hinge and so on. By the time I reach the second board, I usually find that it doesn’t lay quite as evenly as I hope across them. But, as long as there’s about 3/4 inch, I know that it will be okay. 🙂

Adding ribbonsNext is deciding how the box will close. For this, I used bone clasps. This meant putting a ribbon on the top to hold the clasp and shut the box, as well as putting ribbon on the bottom. Adding ribbon means chiseling the board. So, next up was creating a jig to decide where the closure would appear on the cover. This would then dictate where the holes would go on the bottom.

For the top, I had to chisel two holes because I needed to create a loop. For the bottom, only one hole was needed. It’s important to use a chisel that’s the same size as your ribbon so that the holes will be hidden by the ribbon. Gluing the ribbonOnce the ribbon is threaded through and the length needed to close the box and hold the bone clasp in place is verified, the ribbon is trimmed. Then, I created channels in the board to hold the ribbon and glued them down with PVC.

After that I filled in the center of the uncovered board with spare bookcloth and glued the bottom to the box with mixture. This was then pressed. PressingI can’t remember if I left it overnight or for a half-hour or so. Longer is always better with pressing. It’s done to make sure that the boards adhere to each other and don’t warp. Barbara actually placed it in the press for me. She wanted to make sure that press was tight enough to ensure the boards would adhere, but not tight enough to collapse the wall of the tray.

The next step was gluing the spine to the tray and pressing it with a weight. After that was lining the cover and the base of the box. I chose to line the cover with cloth over board to give the top a neater look. The finished product turned out pretty well, I think. 🙂

Finished inside Finished outside

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Basic Steps

All boxmaking begins with the same basic steps:

  1. Knowing the size of the object to be boxed;
  2. Identifying the grain direction on the board;
  3. Rough cutting the board to a slightly larger size then needed;
  4. Squaring the board;
  5. Cutting the pieces for the initial tray;
  6. Gluing the tray;
  7. Sanding the tray where necessary;
  8. Cutting the covering material; and
  9. Covering the tray.

Depending upon the box being made, there may be more than one tray. For example, the clamshell has two. Regardless of this, one of the things that I came to love about making boxes is that all future measurements are based upon the previous steps. Did that make sense?

So, if you begin by measuring the object. The size of the tray is decided by the object. The size of the base/lid of a box is dependent upon the size of the tray, and so on. At each phase, you simply use the previous object to measure with. And, I do mean that literally. The only time I used a ruler for any of these projects was as a straight edge. I loved not making precise measurements, it made it simple.

Gluing upGluing the tray was done using straight PVA, waxpaper, a board, and a C-Clamp. You start by running a bead of glue along the head, positioning it against the board, and attaching the base. It’s important to make sure that the head wall doesn’t rise up during the gluing. So you press it down as you glue it. The board helps to keep everything in place and squared up. Next sideYou then turn the base to glue the next piece, which would be the fore-edge. You keep moving the base as you glue, until all pieces are in place. It’s important to remember to remove the excess glue that spills into the box as the pieces are adjoined. Once the sides are all glued, the tray sits until dry (about 5 minutes). You know it’s dry when the wax paper peels away with no trouble. Then it’s time to sand paper any rough edges and the corners to blend them better.

Measuring the paperOnce that is done, it’s time to measure and cut the paper/cloth to cover the box. I usually followed the same cutting steps as I did for the boards. To cover a box, we used a string to get the overall length of paper needed, and created a jig to measure the outside and inside of the walls plus about 1 1/2 for margins. You can see the string and jig in my box tray.

Adhering the tray cover differs with the type of material you use. With paper, you usually glue out the paper with paste. With cloth, you glue out the box using a mixture of PVA and Methyl Cellulose. Though how you apply the glue differs, the process is still the same.

Glue what you need to and then place the tray head- or tail-side down on the covering material. Be sure that there is at least a 3/4 turn in to be glued onto the base and about an inch to be turned on to the next wall; this can be eyeballed very easily as long as the base is facing you. After this initial placement, it’s a matter of rolling the box and gluing where necessary. It’s important to make sure that corners are tight. So I learned to put a little pressure on the box as I rotated it. Be sure to cut off any excess before gluing the last wall.

Gluing the bottom of the baseOnce the walls were covered, I used my bone folder to crease the bottom turn in on all sides. It can be hard to work with paper and do everything because it has to be entirely glued out before being applied. With cloth, you only glue the board that is currently being worked on.

I then cut the corners on the bottom so that there would be a neat seam. This was done by literally pinching the material together at the corner and then cutting from the bottom out. You should never cut from the corner in because you could actually cut the corner.

Cutting the cornersAfter this, it’s time to turn the paper inside the box. This requires making several special cuts that will allow the covering to turn in neatly and cover the corners fully. The cuts are made on the spine and fore-edge walls or on whatever are the longer walls, but it has to be opposite walls.

The first cut is made from the outside of the board to the end of the covering material. The next cut is made from the inside edge of that same board, but it begins a little further away. This creates a small sliver of material this is then cut away on an angle. This is done on all four corners on the long sides only! The result should look similar to the photo on the left.

Once these cuts are made, it’s time to glue everything down inside the box. Finished trayThe short walls are glued in first, and then the long ones. When it’s done, the corners are covered nicely, and there is about a 3/4 inch margin covering the bottom.

And that’s basically it for cutting and covering the tray. Whew!

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