I wouldn’t call myself neat, not that I’m sloppy, but I would call myself organized. I’ve got a lot of art supplies and such that have to be in their place so I can find them but not tucked away where they are hard to get to. It’s the eternal balancing act between order and disorder. But sometimes I do have to tuck things away. Such as all the drawings that I make. They build up over time and the places that are at my finger’s reach get full. That means I have to tuck them away in a cabinet and it helps if they are not loose but in a box.

I like boxes. They’re good storage devices. They actually make storage boxes for art and I have bought some in the past but when I don’t have the money for them I make my own. I usually make them out of whatever scrap mat board or foam core board that I’ve got lying around.

I’ve never found a really good way to make a box. Mine are more practical than pretty. A week before I made my art storage boxes I made a box to carry comics in and it came out terrible. It was just a small box that fix about ten comics but it doesn’t look good, feel good, or function well. I cut the mat board a bit in order to fold it and then had to use tape on the folds to reinforce them and not of that worked well.

The main problem with making a box out of mat board is that the thickness of the board doesn’t make for easy folding. It’s not thin like paper but a paper box will do no good. For the comic book box I used the method where I draw a line where I want the board to fold, cut through the mat board a little bit with an X-Acto knife, and then fold along the cut.

Folding along the cut can be a real problem. I used to think the cut should be on the outside of the fold but found that the paper would tear away from the edge if I did it that way. With the cut on the inside of the fold the paper would tear on the outside (it was being stretched after all) but be more stable than if it was cut. On the comic box I used tape to reinforce the outside edge but that made it look ugly and it didn’t feel nice either. That box was a failure.

This past Saturday as I was fighting the battle between order and disorder I decided to build another box to put some of my drawings away in. I had a bunch of 6×9 and 9×12 inch drawing lying around so I decided to make a 10×13 inch box for them. Since I made that failure of a comic book box the week before I decided to not go with the X-Acto method. I had recently seen something called a folding bone for the first time and wanted to try one.

A bone folder is used by bookbinders to fold paper so I figured that would be a good tool for me to use here. The only problem was that I didn’t have one. So I decided to improvise. A folding bone looks like a big dull knife. It’s used for scoring paper. It uses pressure to push the paper down and create a valley in the paper to fold along. I went out to the garage to see what I could find among my tools to do the job. I ended up finding a bike tool. It’s a small metal tire lever that’s used for prying the tire tread off a rim. One end was smooth, rounded, and about the width of a quarter.

I wanted to make a box with a separate lid so I pulled out two pieces of mat board and drew the box on the first one. It was just a 10×13 inch rectangle with two more inches on all four sides to make the sides of the box. Then I put my straight edge along a line I just drew and ran my folding bone along the line. I did this two or three times to really press down the mat board. It tore the surface paper a little bit to but this couldn’t be helped. Since the board was so thick I decided to score the other side of the paper too. So I flipped the board over, marked the lines again, and scored along them.

It worked out pretty well. When I went to fold the mat board it folded fairly easily and though there was some tearing of the paper on the outside of the box it wasn’t as bad as with my other methods and I didn’t need to tape any edges. I made a top for the box and thought I was done. I wasn’t.

As I was trying to find a way to fit a new box into my cabinet of drawings and supplies a pile of 11×17 inch drawings that I had been ignoring couldn’t be ignored anymore. So I built a box for them. Then a ran across a pile of 5×11 inch drawings so I built a third box. Finally on another shelf in the cabinet I ran into an even bigger pile of old 5×11 inch drawings and so had to build a fourth box. I ended up spending a lot of my Saturday building boxes out of mat board.

It was really my new method of using a faux folding bone that made me build four boxes instead of one. After I had built that terrible comic book box a week ago I was in no mood to build any more. It was ugly and impractical. That didn’t inspire me to want to make any more. But I’m a tool guy in general so I like trying out new tool and finding the right tool for the right job. Now I need to try out some bookbinding tape.