Making a Cigar Box (1): Building

Many people have asked how to make a box with a hinged lid. Here, for the first time, I present to you a box with a hinged lid based on a cigar box. This project is divided into four posts/sections: Building; Wrapping; Covering the Lid; Finishing. For this section you may only need the tools and materials that are highlighted.

Tools: pencil; metal ruler; bone folder; X-Acto knife and spare blades; PVA; brush for gluing; old magazines for scrap paper; long strips of paper for measuring; oval stencil (optional)
Materials: book board; book cloth; decorative paper for inside lining

Example: 5 1/2" x 8 3/4" x 1 5/8" depth (22 cm x 14 cm x 4.3 cm)

Side boards are the same width as the base board, height is 1 1/2" or 4 cm. Lid, top and bottom boards are two board thicknesses narrower than the base board. Height of top and bottom boards is 1 1/2 board thicknesses shorter than side boards. Example (your measurements will vary, depending on the thickness of the board you use): Base board (5 1/2 x 8 3/4" or 22 x 14 cm); Lid (5 1/2 x 8 3/8" or 21.4 cm x 14 cm); Side boards (5 1/2 x 1 1/2" or 21.4 cm x 4 cm); Top and bottom boards (8 3/8 x 1 7/16" or 21.5 x 3.8 cm)
Apply glue to one edge of one of the side boards.

Press this side board on top of the base board.

Apply glue to second side board and glue it to the base board parallel to the first side board.

Apply glue to the bottom board along one long edge and two shorter edges.

Press the bottom board into place between the side boards. It will be 1 1/2 board thicknesses shorter than the side boards.

Apply glue to the top board along one long edges and two shorter edges. Press into place. It should also be 1 1/2 board thicknesses shorter than the side boards. Smooth down any glue that leaks out.

Check the lid for fit. Rest it on the box. Make sure there is a gap between the edges of the lid and the two side boards. You may need to trim about one more board thickness from the edge indicated.

Use a stencil and draw a shape for a recess in the lid, if you like. I chose an oval because it reminded me of an oval design on a real cigar box.

Cut the shape by pressing with your knife as hard as you can. You do not want to cut all the way through. (But if you have gotten this far, you know that book board is hard to cut without multiple strokes anyway.)

Dig out the shape with your knife.

The box base has been built and is ready to be wrapped. The lid is ready to be covered.

Next up: Part Two, Wrapping the base


Lizzie said…
Thank you! I spent a week building a box. It turned out very nice in the end, but was rather excrutiating to do... So nice to have a plain, simple tutorial post to look at. This was not how I went about building my box - I tried to be "clever" and do it by scoring the boards and folding away from the score-lines. It worked until I tried to cover it with paper... then it began to collapse.
I worked it all out in the end, but will follow your instructions and try doing it "properly"!
Many thanks - I'll look out for the next part.
(I will link to this in the "How to do Clever Things" tab on my blog - with your name/credit of course - hope that's ok?)
Alisa said…
Hi Lizzie,
If your box came out, then your "properly" is just as good as my "properly." It's great to learn by doing (and you probably learned a great deal!), although it can take a bit longer.

I'm interested in this particular box because I found it takes only a couple hours rather than five or six like the more traditional clamshells and candy boxes.

Always happy to be credited and linked to. Thanks!