Printed Boxes (with downloadable templates)

The last two weeks have been a bit of a marathon, so this post is just a quick one: Printed card boxes. There's something oddly exciting to me about the fact that with just a printer, paper or card and glue you can turn an idea into a real, physical object. I'm a decent designer but no kind of artist - I can't draw beyond very basic sketches with plenty of guidelines and measurements - and I think anything that lets me turn an image in my head into a real thing I find very satisfying.

In this case, I wanted a nice box in which to ship my Leatherman Belt Pouches. I experimented with origami boxes but a quick rough prototype found they were a bit clumsy and I couldn't make one big enough out of a single sheet of A4 - they would also crush too easily in the post.

Instead, I quickly sketched up a box shape in Inkscape and printed it on 160gsm card (the thickest my laser printer will handle).

I haven't found anything better to stick paper and card without wrinkling than good old Pritt stick (or in this case Wilko's knockoff version) - although I may be experimenting with Japanese rice paste glue for a future project, which is supposed to be even better.

As the sides are double card with glue in between it makes a surprisingly strong little box. The printing goes a little odd and even seems to rub off in places; I think this is the LED printing process from my Brother "laser" printer which doesn't seem to bond the toner to the paper as strongly. For this purpose I quite like the effect though, it adds a bit of texture, almost like weathering.

I made a lid by scaling up the design about 3% (another thing designing in Inkscape makes really easy) and just to see what it looked like I stuck one of my photos on it.

The "weathering" is more pronounced on the edges and the laser printer isn't a patch on an inkjet for reproducing photos, but I really like this result.

The finished shipping box with my logo and colours - I'm really happy with it! I've tried coating it with spray lacquer but oddly it only coats properly on areas that have a lot of toner (you can see the shine on the blue areas) and although it's a neat effect not really worth the effort.

If you'd like to make your own you can download the templates here:

I've used a similar process to make these popcorn boxes for when my family and little nieces and nephew come over for movie sessions. They're only single layer but quite rigid - at least they've survived an excited four-year-old high on caramel popcorn and cartoon elephant songs :)

You can download the templates for those here. Enjoy!

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