Saturday, May 19, 2012

Do-It-Yourself OD&D Woodgrain Box

Since I'll likely never buy my own brown box, I decided to take a stab at making one. Here is what I did.

Step 1: Get the materials. You will need the following:

  • 6x9 cardboard box (good luck with this part!)
  • woodgrain contact paper (I used this one. Not sure if it matches exactly, but I don't really care. I'm sure it's close enough!)
  • scissors (and a scrapbooking razor slicer if you got one)
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • glue (I used some kind of clear scrapbooking glue)
  • hi-res image of woodgrain box cover
  • cardstock
  • color printer
The hardest thing for me was the 6x9 boxes. I've looked all over for them online, but could never find the right kind. One day I was at a thrift store, and found two boxes of birth announcements and envelopes that were in these boxes. It was one of those privately owned thrift stores, so they charged way too much ($5.00 for two boxes), but since I couldn't find them anywhere else, I just went ahead and got them.

Step 1

Step 2: Cut out the contact paper to the right size. You need the surface area of the front of the box, plus one and a half times the height on all sides. The height measured 1-3/4", so I added 2-5/8" to each of the 4 sides.

Step 2

Step 3: Make four cuts vertically between the edge of the contact paper, and where it would meet the edge of the box (2-5/8" in length)

Step 3

Step 4: Peel the backing off the contact paper and place the box face down on the center, matching the box corners up with the ends of the cuts you made in the previous step. I left some of the backing on to try to help keep the contact paper from sticking to itself, but it turned out to not really be necessary, since this contact paper was pretty easy to pull apart if two pieces accidentally touched and stuck a bit.

Step 4
Step 5: Flip it over carefully, and squeegee any bubbles out, going from the center out. I just used my driver's license.

Step 5

Step 6: Fold up the long sides, starting at the center and then squeegee in an outward direction.

Step 6
Step 7: Pull the end bits around, and squeegee those into place as well.

Step 7
Step 8: Make some cuts in the corners so you can fold the thing down without it getting all wrinkly. Then fold the long sides down first, starting in the center and squeegeeing outwards from there. If there is a part that you can tell will go into the corner when you fold it down, go ahead and trim a bit off to prevent that.

Step 8
Step 9: Fold the short ends down, trimming if needed to prevent a bunch of contact paper gathering in the inside corners. First you'll do the pieces that stretched around from the sides. Then you fold the end piece down over that.

See how its sticking out past the edge of the box?

Just cut a little sliver out so it doesn't bunch up in the corner when you fold it down.

Fold it down in the center and push down and out.

Step 9: Go over it and squeegee any remaining bubbles out the best you can.

Should be looking good at this point.
Step 10: Print out your cover image on cardstock and cut it out. My wife had this scrapbooking razor slicer thingy she never uses, so I used that, since I cut about as straight as a kindergartener when it comes to scissors. I scaled the image down to 5.25" width, since if I printed it at 100% it would have been a bit too big.

Step 10: Before the trimming

Step 10: Not gonna lie. I ruined one with sloppy cuts and had to print out another one.

Step 11: Glue that thing on. I lightly dabbed that clear glue stuff all over the back and brushed it lightly with a paper towel to get a thin layer of glue. This is to prevent it soaking through the paper and leaving spots or oozing out the sides when you press it down onto the box.

Step 11

Looking good!
Step 12: Do the same thing to the box bottom with the contact paper that you did to the top. Obviously, it's a tad smaller, so adjust your measurements as necessary.


The digest-sized stuff I use most often. Some originals, some of them are "play copies".

Okay, maybe it doesn't quite all fit...

Final thoughts: This was a relatively simple project. The cost was about $12.00 plus stuff I already had lying around. I have enough materials to make a second box, and enough contact paper to do a few more beyond that if I can find more of those type of boxes. It took about an hour of my time, and that includes simultaneously taking smoke breaks outside, cooking a pizza, and dealing with babies barfing and kids pooping. Should be a snap for anyone to do.

I think for my next one I'll do a custom cover. I also have this aspiration where I would like to run my games with only whatever I can squeeze in that box. Not sure I can pull it off, but it's worth trying!

If you make one, please post a link to a photo of it in the comments. Enjoy!


  1. Nice step-by-step guide Aplus. I made one just like this a few years back to protect my original D&D supplements. I hope you get your all-in-one project done and post some photos.

  2. Man, Google's search algorithm is so broken now. I just Googled "6x9 cardboard box" (making sure I was signed out of my Google account first) and your post is hit number 8 and 9 on the first page. Now, your blog is awesome, but that's insane.

    Oh, and nice work. I need to try this some time. I will probably have to print out the high res pics at a copy show though because my printer is pretty low quality.

  3. This is awesome. Thank you so much for showing the rest of us how to do this.

  4. Very nice work. Well done! I think, though, that I would just buy 1/8" balsa wood and make a real woodgrain box regardless of anachronism ;P

  5. That's wonderful! And of course, you have just saved yourself $3000+. Take that, collectors! :D

  6. Very nice! And a good use of thrift.

  7. P.S. - Good scans of the box cover images are available here

  8. Excellent! I have to also add that I loved seeing the first Arduin Grimoire tome tossed in there amongst the OD&D books. :)

  9. Nice post!
    First thought - why did this just pop up in my Google Reader list today (5/31)?
    I have a 6x9 box with a nice gold foil covered lid I found somewhere that I have my S&W WhiteBox stuff in. Could easily be covered though.
    Now a question. Why haven't you posted that Outland DM book I see in your photo?
    Final thought of the day - you need to leave room for dice in order to run a game from _just_ the box contents. What to cut, what to cut... :-)

    1. why did this just pop up in my Google Reader list today (5/31)?
      No idea!

      Why haven't you posted that Outland DM book I see in your photo?
      1. It's super-top-secret
      2. It's just a bunch of my favorite tables, and a lot of them are ripped from currently-in-print products, so I wouldn't want to step on anyone's toes. Perhaps someday I'll list out the contents, though.

      you need to leave room for dice in order to run a game from just the box contents
      No way! I don't think that box could fit my dice even if it had nothing else in it! I love to use many, many dice.


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