Making Your Own Boxes

If you’re happy getting your boxes made, by either the printers making your cards or elsewhere, feel free to skip this post. Because here I’m just going to explain how I made the boxes. So you’ve probably already realised this post

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I first got the idea of making my own boxes after reading Jackson Pope’s site about handcrafting games. The link is here: http://creationandplay.blogspot.com/2018/05/how-to-craft-tray-and-lid-box.html and full of excellent advice, not all of which I’m about to copy here. The entire website is really useful for anybody interested in games design, production or publishing, so I recommend giving it a read.

I did things slightly differently to Jackson. First thing I did was purchase a Cricut Explore. There are machines which will cut card for you, and save an incredible amount of time when it comes to cutting out the boxes. They’re also useful for cutting out shapes and constructs for prototyping. Mine was second hand and cost around £200, and whilst it’s by no means essential, I wouldn’t have done it without one.

The net of my box was determined by two things- card size and UK postage designations. The maximum height, including packing, could be 2.5cm. Taking into account the thickness of the card I was using (75mm greyboard), I went with a length of 89mm for the box (91mm for the lid); width of 65mm for the box (67mm for the lid), and height of 19mm for the box (17mm for the lid). The 2mm allowed the lid to fit whilst still being a snug fit, and the gap in height meant it could be gripped from below.

The Cricut design is here: https://design.cricut.com/#/design/151555166 (that’t the first design I’ve linked to, so let me know if it doesn’t work). With a simple cut around the perimeter and score the rectangle in the middle. Here’s an image of it:

I went through a number of iterations before landing on this. Hence the name of the file.

The Cricut itself worked a charm. Except when it didn’t. But I learnt through going through a number of sheets of grey board: take care of your cutting mat and blade. I didn’t think about it, but I was using that machine to it’s fullest. I didn’t realise how badly until after a number of poor cuts I tried replacing the blade and mat. All the following cuts were like a hot knife through butter. My cut was a pressure of 300, done three times over, which gave me enough time to fold and stick together the previous box by the time the next one was done.

Once I’d made 300 boxes, it was time to cover them. Jackson recommends vinyl, and I did have some great success with matt laminated vinyl, but after some discussions with a local printing company they persuaded me to try matt laminated paper, and there was no difference. Well, actually, one- it cost about a third as much as the vinyl.

The matt laminated sheets were all printed and I picked them up. I had to cut them out, which was probably the most laborious part of the manufacturing process. I initially started by doing small wing cuts at the corners, keeping as much of the material as possible. Unfortunately, this resulted in some of the sides not sticking to the inside of the box, as there was too much material there. Instead I just cut rectangles form the corners, trying to match the outline of the box closely, whilst leaving a small amount of overlap to keep things structurally sound. The rest followed Jackson’s guide to a tee: start by placing the lid/box face down on the laminate, fold it onto the front and rear side. Fold the flaps around, cut the tops at the corners and fold the rest onto the inner part of the box. Then fold the longer sides up and over.

All of this took longer than actually cutting out the boxes. For one thing, with the Cricut doing all the work I was able to just sit back and watch tv (or SGDQ, which I managed to catch incredibly amounts of), but when wrapping the boxes I had to be focused all the time. But the results were worth it. If you want to make a 2-part lidded box then I hope this was helpful, and get a cricut.

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