Edge view of homemade cardboard box showing unintentional rhomboid shape

Not winning any design awards

Today’s project is not related to cycling. I needed a box to send a small gift overseas, so I decided to fabricate one myself from an empty beer carton.

Montage of hand-drawn plans for cardboard box and empty beer carton
Initial plan vs beer carton

Diagram on beer carton showing use as a dispenser
Folds and perforations

I had a pretty good idea how I wanted to go about it, but I searched for some plans as a reference. After measuring the gift I made a rough sketch.

Unfortunately for my plans, the beer carton has a number of unexpected folds and half-perforated lines, to make it easy to use as a dispenser and to fold up for recycling. I realized I’d be better off making the box lid as a separate piece, and then I tried to line up the plans along the existing folds and perforations as much as possible.

Among my challenges were a complete lack of any kind of straightedge or cutting surface. (I guess these aren’t required in bicycle maintenance.) I used the edge of one of the cut-offs of the carton to draw lines, and I used the edge of my desk to make the folds. I scribed shallow grooves along some of the folds, but these ended up going nearly through the material when the fold was made, so I had to tape them up carefully to hold the whole thing together.

Montage of measuring, marking, cutting and folding cardboard
Making do with the tools at hand

After taping up the box bottom, I made a trial fit. I was pleased with the results.

Montage of taping up a cardboard box and trying the contents for the fit
Taping and fitting

No one was more surprised than I when the box lid fit on the first go!

Montage of hand-cut cardboard box lid and trial fitting
Robert Gair spinning in his grave

In the end I was very satisfied with my handiwork, even though (as stated at the outset) it’s unlikely to win any design awards. The fit was good enough there was no need of any packing inside.

Edge view of homemade cardboard box showing unintentional rhomboid shape
Not winning any design awards

Now let’s see if it survives the international post!

Project No. 2

Cartridge water filter in plastic wrapper
March is filter changing month

The other thing on my to-do list this weekend was to replace the water filter for the kitchen sink. We were very pleased to learn our new flat came with a built-in filter that only needs to be replaced once a year. We no longer have to fool around with Brita replacements and remembering to top up the pitcher and waiting for the filtration.

We pick up the order form from the lobby desk and fax it in (yes! This is Japan!), and a few days later the box arrives. And then it’s just a matter of moving the things out of the way under the kitchen sink to make the swap.


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