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Rectangular box made with custom pattern
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Rectangular Box Pattern
in Any Size

What you will make:

It's easy to make a rectangular box in just about any size and depth.  In this project, you will create a custom pattern for a rectangular box in the exact size to meet your needs. You'll make patterns for both the top and bottom of the box. Draw the pattern directly on the cardboard for the box or make paper patterns that can be reused.

Related craft: For printable rectangular box patterns, see the Rectangular Box craft project.

Here's what you need:
  • Cardstock or cardboard (poster board and Bristol board work well)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors or craft knife
  • Optional: Computer or copier paper for pattern template.

This project is rated EASY to do.

How to Make an Rectangular Box Pattern

Read all of the steps before starting.
Step 1: Determine Pattern Size
Determine pattern size based on box dimensions

The box's pattern is a rectangle. To determine its size, you need to know the dimensions of the box you are planning to make. What is the size of the box's base—width and length? What's the depth of the box?

The rectangle for the pattern is the size of the box's base plus two times the depth added to both dimensions. For example, for a box made from cardstock that is 4" by 6" and 2" deep the pattern rectangle is 8" by 10"—add 4" (2" x 2) to the width and length of the base. This is the pattern size for the box's bottom.

Box top: Both patterns, bottom and top, are based on a rectangle. The box's top is based on a slightly larger rectangle—add twice the thickness of the cardboard plus about 1/8" to both dimensions of the box's base. For a box made of cardstock, just add 1/8" to both dimensions. For medium poster board, add 3/16" and for medium chipboard add 1/4" to both dimensions. For the example above, add 1/8" to both dimensions of the box's 4" by 6" base—4 1/8" by 6 1/8".

For a standard shirt box, make the depth of the top a little less than the depth of the bottom. For the example 4" by 6" box, make the top's depth 1¾". So, the size of the top's rectangle is 7 5/8" by 9 5/8"—add 3½" (1¾" x 2) to the width and length of the top's rectangle.

Tip: To reveal more of the box bottom, make the top's depth anywhere from ½ to ¾ of the bottom's depth. For an example, see the Deeper box pattern from the Rectangular Box craft project.

Step 2: Draw Pattern
Draw rectangle

You can draw the pattern for the box directly on the cardboard or on paper for later transfer to cardboard. Use a pencil and ruler to draw the size of rectangle determined above for the box's bottom. For the example box, 8" by 10".

Measure in the depth of the box and draw lines

Measure in from each side the desired depth of your box, and draw a line parallel to the side. The lines should cross to form a rectangle that is centered inside the larger rectangle. This inner rectangle should be the size of the box's base. For the example box, 4" by 6".

Box top: Do the same for the box's top on another piece of cardboard or paper.

Tip: Write "Box Bottom" and "Box Top", along with the box's dimensions, on paper patterns and save  for future use.

Step 3: Assemble Box
Glue tabs

The corner squares on the pattern are the glue tabs. The lines extended from the shorter sides are glue tab fold lines. The lines extended from the longer sides are glue tab cut lines.

Follow the instructions in Rectangular Box project for assembling your custom rectangular box.

That's it! You are done!
Rectangular box made with custom pattern

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Before you start:
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read all of the directions.
  • Gather everything you need to do the project.
  • Think about the project. Imagine how it will look and what you will do with it.

Are you ready?
Okay, get started!!!

Rectangular boxes made with printable patterns

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Tip: Before creating your own rectangular box pattern, make one of the boxes in the Rectangular Box craft project using a printable pattern.

4" by  6" example rectangular box

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Tip: The example box is 4" by 6" and 2" deep. It was made with pink poster board and the top has paisley paper insets on each face. It requires two 8" by 10" pieces of poster board.

Collapsible boxes

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Tip: To make boxes with attached lids, see the Collapsible Box craft project.

Interlocking curves boxes

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Tip: For a fancier box with custom pattern instructions, see the Interlocking Curves Box craft project.

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