Boxes: least cost, least labour time

I think a lot of us thinking about selling GF crafted items will also want to make GF crafted boxes.

So, given all the many possible designs, what do you think will be the most cost effective both with materials and labour time for assembly?

Boxes - finger jointed must be easiest way of making the box.


  1. Hinged lids - entirely lasered (how to make it flush and not stick out?)
  2. Hinged lids - metal hinges (but extra assembly time fitting them)
  3. Drop in lids - what sort of catch?
  4. Slide in lids - what sort of catch?
  5. Drop over lids (lid is larged than box base - but how do you stop it falling off)
  6. What else?

I guess we might have different answers for small boxes vs large ones?


From my limited experience, I think you are thinking of it backwards.
What design will look like you spent hours doing it?
What design will the customers have to have over the compitetion?
Find this and then minimize the labor and material for what is already selling.


Sometimes you want form and wow factor over function and economy. So don’t always think in terms of non-laser boxes.

Living hinges can do wonderful things (I don’t even see some of the nicer packages I know about in the first few pages of results).


Good points. Let me slightly re-phrase it as “we will be making a lot of boxes.” maybe for “mass” market sale, maybe just because we need a lot of boxes to organise our screws, nuts and bolts.

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Ah. Yes, for things around the shop and looking for quick to assemble and low material consumption, finger jointed or acrylic welded are likely the best bet.

For a lid, one of the easiest way is a built in hinge.

You cut holes in the two side pieces (round), and leave some extra tabs on the lid piece. It may be a little hard to see what they did in this one But it works fantastically.

Here is the same case (or near to it) exploded, makes it easier to figure out what is going on:


Oh, not that changes things. At some point, it will be cheaper to buy boxes and then customize them. That is what I do for my knife sharpener. You can get folding pasteboard in just about any shape and size you can imagine. Same with slightly nicer boxes. Now if your need is such that you have to make them but still need to turn them out in quantity I say go with finger joints and drop on lids.


A lot depends on whether you’re talking “box” or “Packaging”. Will the box help sell the thing or subsequent things, or is it just a container? I like the living hinge idea, especially when the hinge can become one or more of the sides of the box. But also consider laser time and material cost – pasteboard is really cheap.

One other possibility: what can we do quickly to a pasteboard box/lid in the way of vector engrave or cutout that would be worth more or easier to apply than a label?

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I would think the lowest cost and labor would be cardboard boxes taped together. But you’d never make money selling that as the end product. What ends up being the most cost effective might be a box that takes you 2 hours over 3 days and $50 to make because of how much you can sell it for and how quickly it sells.

But that also doesn’t mean the most expensive, most time consuming box is going to the best option. It really depends on who your market is, what your product is, and how you plan on selling to them.

I think a lot of people sort of think they’ll make things and those things will sell and that’s the end of it. Depending on how you’re selling, making the items might be the thing you spend the least amount of time on, by a large margin.


Just to chime in on the cost vs. value thoughts so far (and to mention that sometimes you get both):

I’ve been prototyping the box for my product and was able to create what I think is a far cooler box than cardboard for about the same price as a cardboard box of the same size. The material is lath strip (a rough cut wood product that comes in slats) and is cheap (at about $.007 an inch).

I’ve come up with a cut sequence that yields the right pieces with the fewest scraps and takes about three minutes to fasten together with an air stapler. It just so happens that the rough cut of the wood lends itself to my product’s aesthetic. (An aesthetic that will be even better with a quick mark by the Glowforge!)

All that to say, I realize it depends on your project, but you can get both.


I assume you were purposefully vague… but now I just have to know what’s in the box…


Cool box, brings back a few memories.

I used to work at a nursery where we went through several trees worth every year battening down the plastic (sometimes in sub freezing weather with 60mph winds). I made several pieces of furniture with plaster lath, sadly none of it managed to survive the intervening 35 years.


That’s a lot of fan for an RPi!

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