How to Make an Artifact Box

I thought that today I would show how to make object boxes step by step. I learned this method while interning at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. This box process is the same, but the specific tray mounting style used here is for certain objects from the Eiteljorg. You will need to create a mount that works for the specific object you wish to box.

The first thing that must be done is gathering all the supplies you need to build the box.

All photos in this post credit to Robin Matty. Objects displayed in these photographs are property of the Eiteljorg Museum
All photos in this post credit to Robin Matty. Objects displayed in these photographs are property of the Eiteljorg Museum.

You will need: coroplast, unbleached twill tape, scissors, tape measure, ruler, box cutter, pencil, scrap paper, gloves, a screw driver (to punch holes), box clips, something to press tyvek into ethafoam with, and winged clips.

The next thing you do is measure the object(s). You will need the height, length, and width. You record these measurements on some paper to help keep track of it all. The objects need to be spaced 3-5 inches from each other.


After recording the numbers, the box dimensions are figured out. You need to add 2 inches all around the objects to keep them safe from touching the sides. Then you must add another 2 inches to the measurements to create the tabs on the box. The first portion of the box you are making is the base, tabs to hold the side in place, and the drop down front. You want to also make sure that the dropdown front is on the long side of the box, not the short. Then you make the sides of the box. This is one sheet that is the length, then width, then length added together by the height. Except you measure it out in sections, and each section is ¼ shorter. That guarantees it will fit into the base. Then you score along those three lines to get the fold.


After careful calculations, it is time to measure twice and cut once.


The same measuring process is used to cut out the base section of the box as well.


After cutting out the square base, you make the 2-inch tabs all around. You will then have a nice square with a 2-inch outline around it. You then draw a line down the center (from your measurements) that separates your base from the dropdown front

From this you will distinguish your base from the drop down front by cutting.


To do this, you cut along the 2-inch lines. Your box now looks like this:


The next step is to make the “stop sign” (I was told to think of it looking like a stop sign). You take a ruler and draw and line through the corner box. This line should go where the points meet as seen below. You then cut along that line. This creates your tabs to secure your sides to the base.

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After the cut, the box looks like this (the stop sign). You then score along the remaining lines to make them fold.


Now it is time to attach the sides to the base. Line your sides up with your base. Take the wing clips and attach the sides two the base.

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Once secure, you begin to drill holes into the sides of the box. The shorter sides need only one box clip, but longer sides need two or more clips. To “drill” your holes, use a screwdriver to press through the coroplast. Then put in the box clips, and fold over their sides tightly to ensure a secure connection.

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You now have this:


The next thing you need to do is to drill holes into the side of the box and the dropdown lid. These will secure your box side to the rest of the box. Using string allows for easy opening and closing. Draw where your holes should be, then drill holes. Next cut string to make the ties, and tie it tightly to the box. Repeat four times. You then should have a box minus a lid.

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The next step is to make the lid. Use the same measurements as the box, but this time add 1/4th of an inch. This will make the lid slightly larger then the box, but will keep it fitting snugly. Cut out the box shape, and make the 2-inch perimeter around the box. Score along the lines, and on the longest side cut a slit into the corners. These will fold over and be tied down. Secure this corners with the winged clips.

Punch holes into the sides and loop twill tape through. Secure by tying.

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Repeat four times. You now have a lid!

The tray is the last major step, and the trickiest to do. The tray needs to be secure in the box, not lose. I cut it 1/4th smaller then the base bottom. Sometimes you need to tweak it and cut is smaller still to fit.


Once you have cut out the tray out, drill a hole and add a string. This acts as a pull-tab. You now have all the components of your box.


Next you place the object(s) on the tray. Keep in mind they need to be several inches apart and at least two inches from the side. After you work out the proper positioning, you will place your trirod. Mark on the tray where the trirod goes. To secure objects with bases, you need to tie strings through their feet and over their feet. Make marks where the strings should go. You now have your base outlined.

Punch holes where the holes should go and put string through them. Make sure the string is long enough to tie down.


Then use the hot glue-gun to glue the trirod onto the tray.

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Once you have the first mount done, place the object in it to make sure it fits. Sometimes the trirod is too close making the mount too tight or is too far away leaving the mount loose and useless. If the object fits securely, move forward gluing the trirod for the second object.

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Take the object(s) and secure them to the tray.

Next you want to make a label for the box. The more descriptive and easier to read, the less the box has to be opened and handled. The less object handling, the better.

Once the images are printed, they are secured to the box using double stick tape.


Once the picture label is secured to the box, you have yourself a complete box!



Hope this helps!


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