There are two major decisions you need to make prior to making a handmade box. Two of the biggest decisions to make occur at the very beginning: First, what do you want to put in the box and Second, what materials do you want to use.
The whole goal of making a box is to make something that will contain something else. Unless, you are a box making professional, most people make boxes to contain something. Using standard Bookbinding measurements, the width of the box needs to be longer than the width of your item. The height of your box needs to be longer than the height of your item. The depth of your box needs to contain the item you want to place in the box. Note: when citing measurements, I will use the terms associated with paper (think 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper. The width of the paper is the short measure from left to right. The height measurement is the long measure from top to bottom).
For the sake of illustration, I will be making a box to hold some of my 4" by 6" postcards. I will be providing measurements for the top part of the box (top tray) and the bottom part of the box (bottom tray). The measurements for the bottom tray will be 4.25 " by 6.25" by 3". Usually you would make the bottom tray first and then measure the bottom tray to get the dimensions for the top tray. Since I have made these boxes before, I know that I can add 1/4" to the width and the height for the base. The depth dimension for the top tray is usually aesthetic. You need to determine how much reveal you want showing between the top tray and the bottom tray. Since I will be wrapping both trays with the same materials, the reveal really isn't that important so I made the depth of the top tray 1.5" which is half the depth of the bottom tray.
The second consideration you need to make is what materials you are going to use. Of course, you will need some kind of board (I use Davey Board) and something to wrap the board to make it look presentable. The reason that you need to keep this in mind because the thickness of the wrapping material will affect the final dimensions of your box. Leather is thick than paper and requires more of a clearance. Thinner paper requires less of a clearance than Japanese Washi. I will be using a thicker paper that simulates leather.
Note: The materials that you use will also affect the type of box that you make. For this demonstration, I will be making a box with an unattached lid (a typical box similar to a shirt box--one with two pieces, a top and bottom tray).
|Individual Pieces--Bottom Tray|
|Bottom Tray ready for gluing|
|All the pieces ready for gluing|