Jun 5, 2017

Box Finishing Tutorial

I actually wrote this post back in 2012 when I taught an online box finishing class, but for some reason I didn't publish it.

Materials Needed:

• Floss, fabric, embellishments, etc. that you will need to stitch the piece that will go on the top of the box. Or, if you have a piece already stitched that’s even better :)

• Coordinating cotton fabric of your choice. Quilt flats (18x22" fabric) are perfect. Or look in the odds and ends bin at the fabric stores to see if there's anything that might work.

• 1-2 pieces of thin, but sturdy cardboard. Cereal box cardboard is too thin. If you’re willing to pay for postage, I can mail you a couple pieces.

• Unfinished wood box

• Ruler

• Craft Tacky Glue. Regular white glue won't be as easy to use. Hot glue is not recommended.

• Flat quilt batting – size depends on size of your box top.

• Spring clothes pins (spring clothes pegs), or something similar.

• Cording or trim to embellish your box

• Scissors

• Pencil

• Iron and Ironing Board (for ironing your stitched piece and the fabric if it’s wrinkled)

• Small scraps of felt or thick fabric

• Fine-Grit Sandpaper (I use 180 or 220)

Small Screwdriver

The following items you may or may not need depending on the type of finish you’re going to put on your box. Choose a finish you’re comfortable with.

For painted finishing:
• Primer
• Paint (I use spray paint and primer)

For stained finishing:
• Wood Conditioner
• Wood Stain
• Rubber Gloves
• Lint-free cloth (I cut up an old cotton pillow case)
• Steel Wool (I used 000)

Determine and stitch the design you'd like to put on top of the box. It might be easier to choose your box first and then a design that will fit the top. Otherwise, you may not find one that will fit.

I usually get my unfinished wood boxes from Hobby Lobby or Michaels. Hobby Lobby has been issuing 40% coupons every week for over a month. Sometimes, I will pick up wood boxes from thrift stores and re-finish them. I won't be going over re-finishing in this class so unless you know how to do it, please use an unfinished box.

Cover your workspace with newspaper. Be sure to have all your supplies by the time you get done stitching.

I chose an octagon box but the instructions can be used for a square or rectangle box also. Don't feel like you have to get an octagon one.

Using a small screwdriver to remove all the hinges and keep them in a safe place. I placed mine in the lid of a plastic yogurt container. Put it in a safe place so that the pieces won't be lost. You won't be needing them for several weeks.

I have several small tool kits that I use mostly for crafting. This is an inexpensive tiny tool kit that contains a wire cutter, needle nose pliers, tweezers, and several screwdrivers.

This set was a gift from Menards on my birthday this year! It comes with a bunch of interchangeable small screwdriver tips.

After removing the hinges and/or hardware from your box, use the sandpaper or sanding block on the outside of the box base and along the rim. You do not have to sand the inside of the box. Be sure to sand with the grain of the wood, not against it otherwise you'll have unattractive scratches. Also sand the lid of the box: top, sides, rim, and inside.

By now you should've decided what type of finish you'd like on the outside of the box.

Whether you spray paint or brush paint, the procedures are the same. Use primer on the bare wood, first. Primer all the parts that you sanded. There's no need to do the inside of the base. Let dry several hours. Then paint. Two coats should do it. I usually let the paint dry overnight between coats.

If you choose to stain your box, the procedure is a bit more involved and will take a little more time. Well worth it!

Put on the rubber gloves. Shake the Wood Conditioner to thoroughly mix. Using the lint-free cloth dip it in the conditioner and rub a generous amount on the box base opposite the grain. So if the grain goes from left to right, rub the conditioner on from top to bottom. (Follow the directions on the can) Wipe off the excess in the same direction of the wood grain. Do not allow the conditioner to dry before wiping off the excess. No need to do the inside. Repeat for the box lid. Make sure you do the inside of the lid also. Allow conditioner to penetrate about 1/2 hour before applying stain.

Shake the stain can to thoroughly mix. Put on the rubber gloves. Using a new lint-free cloth, wipe a thin, even layer of stain on the areas you applied the conditioner. Apply in the direction of the wood grain and work as quickly as possible so that stained edges do not dry before the entire piece is stained. Repeate for box lid. Allow to dry overnight.

In the morning, use the steel wool to buff the stain smooth. Make sure all traces of steel wool are removed and then wipe another layer of stain onto the box pieces. Allow to dry 24 hours. Repeate until you get the color depth you'd like from the stain. The more layers you repeat, the darker the stain will get. If you use the PolyShades like I did, the piece will become shiny as well. I put about 6 coats of stain on my box. Your final step will be to buff the pieces with steel wool. When you're done, it should look like this:

Next you'll be creating the lining for your box. A fair amount of accuracy is required for this step. Using your straight ruler, measure one of the sides of the inside of your box. Cut one out. Set it inside against the box side to check for fit. The top of the cardboard should be even with the top of the box base. The edges should match up to the corners. Once it's the right size, cut additional pieces for the remaining sides. If your box is square/rectangular, you'll need 4. I needed six. At this point, you can cut them all the same size because later you'll be trimming them to a more accurate size.

Then you'll need to make two pieces that are the shape of the top and bottom of your box. To do this, place the base of the box on the cardboard and trace around it. Cut out the shape.

Here's where accuracy is important. Measure the rim thickness of the box. Using the ruler, mark the measurement on the cardboard edges with a straight edge. Trim off. Check to see if the piece will fit inside the box base. It should be snug but not so snug that you can't tip the box over to get it out. Continue to trim away even amounts all ALL sides until it fits -- only remove tiny amounts at a time. Mark the piece "1".

The next piece will be used for the lid. The size of it depends on the "look" you want to go for. If you want it to cover the entire top, then trace the lid top. If you want it smaller then trim it smaller. After cutting it out, mark the piece "2".

Grab your craft glue and a wet (not soaking) rag. I always store my glue upside down in a jar and put the wet cloth on a plastic lid or a plate.

Now comes the "fun" part!

If your coordinating fabric has creases, you'll want to iron them out so that everything is nice and smooth. 

Grab one of the side pieces of cardboard and place it on the wrong side of the fabric. Cut around the edge leaving about 1/4". No need to make it pretty.

Keeping the fabric and cardboard on a flat surface, place a small dab of glue in the corners. Using your finger, spread the glue into a thin layer.

Wipe your finger on the wet rag. You will be repeating the gluing process over and over. Fold the corner of the fabric over the corner of the cardboard.

Place a bead of glue along one side. Using your finger, spread the glue. Wipe your fingers. Starting at one corner, fold the fabric over the edge tightly -- this is important in order to get tight pointed corners. Do the same with the opposite corner. Remember to wipe your fingers after EACH time you touch the glue, otherwise you'll end up with glue on the fabric! Flatten the fabric in between by pushing down and toward the center of the cardboard in a sweeping motion. Repeat for remaining edges. Place a small line of glue along the perimeter of the fabric-covered cardboard on the wrong side... approximately 3/8" from the edge. Squiggle some glue around in the center. Press onto the side inside the box. If any glue squeezes out the top edge, wipe it clean with a clean section of the wet rag. Using the clothes pins, clip the fabric-covered cardboard to the wood box side. Place a piece of felt between the wood and clothes pin on the outside of the box to protect the finish.

Repeat the process for the opposite side of the box. In my case, I had to do every other side. Let dry for at least one day.

The remaining sides will need to be "customized". Take one of the side pieces of cardboard and place it at the edge of the box, between the fabric sides.

For my box, you'll see that the cardboard is a bit too wide on the right side. Mark the bottom edge where it needs to be trimmed to. Use a straight edge to draw a cutting line. Cut to size and place inside the box to check for fit. You'll want to trim it about an 1/8" smaller to compensate for the fabric that will be wrapped around the sides. Glue the fabric onto the cardboard using previous procedures. Trim each remaining side individually because chances are the box isn't "square". Glue sides in place and secure with clothes pins. Let dry overnight.

This step creates the bottom of your box. Using the cardboard marked "1", label one side "Top" and the other side "Bottom". Match it to your box and mark the edge that the hinges are on and the opposite edge where the clasp will be. Flip the cardboard over left to right and label the same edges.

You will need to trim all the sides little-by-little until it fits into the box base. Do not cut off too much at once otherwise you may end up with a gap you won't be happy with. There should only be about an 1/8" between the box sides and the edge of the cardboard piece you're working on. It's a tedious process, but worth it in the end. You'll end up with lots of these:

Next glue the fabric on the cardboard. Make sure the wrong side of the fabric faces the side marked "top".

Again, fold the fabric over the corner points first. Don't forget to wipe the glue off your fingers!

Place glue around the perimeter and in the center.

And press it into the bottom of the box, making sure that the edge marked "hinges" is matched up to the side of the box where the hinges are supposed to be. The fabric-covered cardboard should fit tightly.

Since the edges of my box are beveled, I made the cardboard for the top about 1/4" smaller than the box lid.

Just like the cardboard for the box bottom, mark the top side, bottom side, hinges, and clasp. Place glue on the side marked "top" and press a piece of batting onto it.

Trim the excess batting off with scissors. Center your stitched piece on top of the batting. Turn over and glue to the cardboard using the same techniques in Step 5.

Wash and iron your stitched piece, if you wish to do so.  After attaching the stitching to the cardboard, place glue on the backside.

Attach to the top of the box.

Place a book or weighted flat object on top and allow to dry. I used a Zip Disk and a rock, LOL.

Glue your trim around the outside edge of your stitching. You can put a bead of glue around the edge and press the trim/cording in place. I like to use my finger and brush the glue onto the trim and then press the trim in place. That way there isn't an excess amount of glue.

You can also glue trim on the inside of the box. I like to put it around the top edge. You can also put some inside the bottom of the box if you have big gaps.

Reattach the hinges and clasps.

Viola! A beautifully finished box.

You can see the students projects HERE.

Pegboard Organization Glory

In my previous post, I detailed out how I created my pegboard.  Well, it looked at me mournfully for a month while I mulled around in my mind how I was going to be able to hang it with me, myself, and I.

Eureka! Finally, it came to me. Using 3 1/2" all purpose drywall screws, I attached a short length of 1x2 to the wall to function as a ledge to hold the pegboard while I screwed IT into the wall.  I made sure it was level!  Since the trim covered the "ledge", I left it there.  No one would know unless they were on the floor looking up -- and why would they be doing that anyway?! 

I recommend having two people install something this large and put wall anchors in.  Since I was using very long screws and a LOT of them, I bypassed the anchors.  I did pre-drill each hole, though.  It saves the plaster from being overly damaged and makes the entire process go a lot smoother.

I pre-drilled holes in each corner as well as every third or fourth hole across the top and bottom. After I pre-drilled each hole, I installed the screw.  Remember the bracing I put across the middle? When hanging the pegboard, the bracket is horizontal (not vertical like shown in the photo of previous blog post).  I pre-drilled holes in a zig-zag fashion so that both pieces of pegboard had screws.  I used black screws but primered them white -- One would never guess unless they were up close and personal, scrutinizing... Ahem, like my Dad. (May he be resting in peace and looking down with pride... I'm my Dad's girl... He was very handy!)

So here's what it ended up looking like after I attached it to the wall and covered it with my junk crafty stuff.

Okay... a little about some of the things I bought for the pegboard.  I bought a couple of Everbilt pegboard accessory kits from Home Depot. I bought pegboard baskets, too, but those are going back since they don't fit very well.  With the shelf brackets that came in the kit, I made the top shelf.  The 6" wood shelf came from the scrap bin at Menards.

If you ever need a small piece of lumber, check out this area!

The ribbon I already had in embroidery floss bags attached to rings.  I hung them on the utility brackets that came in the accessory set.

The black strips on each side of the pegboard are tool magnets from Harbor Freight. I think they're $4.95 a piece and 18" long.  They are a LOT less expensive and wider than ones I've found in other places. There are holes on each end, so I just attached a hook to the pegboard and hung the magnet.  It's overkill for embroidery scissors but would work for holding anything metal.  Plus, it's a nice way to display scissor collections.

The chalkboard and chalk came from Target. Can't beat the price at $3 and $1, respectively.  At some point, I will probably paint the trim on the chalkboard to match the trim of the pegboard. The gold doesn't look too bad, does it?

The smaller shelf on the right is made of a leftover piece of plywood cut down to size.  It's about 4" deep.  There weren't any more shelf brackets in the kit, so I used two of the longer hangers to set the wood on.  Perfect for my glues and Modge Podge.  The paint pallet is sitting on a bracket used to hold tools by sliding down into the center opening.

The larger white buckets on the left also came from Target.  They were leftover 2017 graduation d├ęcor.  At $1 each, who could pass that up?

The wood crate that holds my label maker came from a thrift store years ago.  I think is was 99cents?  I drilled holes in the back so I could hang it with hooks.  It has removable dividers... by removing one,  the label maker fit perfectly on one side... and on the other side, I put the power cord and instruction book.

The blue buckets on the right came from a thrift store. Originally, they had candles in them.  I melted the wax enough to pull the candle out and viola... more storage buckets! 

Incidentally, I saw the cutest buckets at The Dollar Tree. They're taller and thinner with star cutouts.  They come in red or blue.  I don't need any, but I just thought I'd throw that out there! 

For my glue guns, I used a double bracket hanger. They're kinda bulky, but fit nicely.

While organizing my pegboard, I found I used the bracket accessories and j-hooks (both large and small) more than anything else in the kits.  It's always good to have variety, though.  You just never know how things will turn out if you rearrange your pegboard.

So there you have it... How I organized my pegboard.  Hope you enjoyed the tour.  Remember to think outside the box when trying to organize!

Until next time....

DIY Craft Room Pegboard

I've had a pegboard in my basement workshop for several years and always thought I should make pretty one for my craft room art studio (Sounds more professional, don'tcha think?).  Back in April when the weather started turning nice outside, I started on my journey to make humongous wall size pegboard.

How big did I want my pegboard?  Decisions... decisions!  I figured 48"x48" would nicely cover the wall I wanted to put it on.  I Since I don't have a pickup truck to haul a full 4'x8' piece of pegboard, I opted for two pieces of 2'x4' pegboard with the 1/8" holes.  Pegboard also comes 1/4" holes, but since the one in my basement is 1/8", I wanted to be able to swap hooks and accessories between the two if I needed to.  The 2'x4' pegboard fit nicely in the back seat of my car.  Along with pegboard, I picked up some 1"x2" boards from the lumber area and some MDF trim.

To make sure the primer/paint would stick well to the pegboard, I hand sanded it.

Then I used some leftover primer to paint it white.  I didn't bother to paint over the primer, although the proper thing to do would be to paint over it.  Or, use a paint/primer combo.  Long time readers know I try to use what I have on hand... so primer it was!  I did put a couple of coats on using that 2" roller.  If you try this at home, I recommend using a larger roller.  A roller puts a nicer finish on than a paint brush.  Oh, one other thing... put a tarp or newspaper underneath as paint drips through the holes.  I used a skewer to poke through the holes where the paint didn't drip through.

Once both pieces were dry, I moved on to the trim pieces.  Using leftover spray paint from the filing cabinets I redid several years ago, I painted the trim to match.  If I were to do this over, I'd opt for real wood trim instead of MDF.  MDF doesn't seem to hold up very well to dings and bangs.

Like the improvised saw horses?
Once the trim was dried, I laid out the pegboard and trim to measure how big I wanted it and to cut the 45-degree mitered corners.

As I cut each piece of trim, I marked the back so I wouldn't forget which piece went where.  I also marked the back of the pegboard.

To give the humongous wall-sized pegboard stability plus spacing between it and the wall, I used 1"x2" pieces of lumber cut down to fit the back.  I learned that I could cut the wood a lot easier by clamping it into the workstation.  Who knew?!

Since the edges of the 1x2's were going to be exposed, I primered them white.  As you can see, I didn't care about the drips since those sides weren't going to been seen.

I attached the 1x2's to the back of the pegboard using an air compressor and stapler.  I also used glue between the layers.  The corners were tacked together using an air nailer.  Gotta love power tools!

Across the center line where each piece of pegboard met up, I put another 1x2.

Back of Pegboard
Front of Pegboard with No Trim
Lastly, I glued and nailed the trim in place.  I filled all the nail holes with wood putty and then touched up with paint.

Tada!!  My wall sized pegboard!

Disclaimer:  This is how I did my project.  There are certainly less involved ways to make a pegboard. Your mileage may vary vary... You can make it as plain or pretty as your skills can take you.

My next dilemma:  How am I going to hang this thing by myself?!?!?  More on that in my next post.

Until next time...