Succulent Boxes


This uncomplicated project brought me a bunch of joy and a crafted object I can show off at work.

My local farmer’s market sells tiny succulents in 2x2x2" plastic tubs. The tubs aren’t pretty, fall over a bunch, but do a good jobs of holding the soil and roots and moisture together for the little plants. I love those little guys, they look so juicy and full of life. Here’s are some getting their monthly watering:

I want these to last, so I need a box nice enough to put right in front of me at work. This sounds like a job for Sparky, so I went looking for box generators.

The author of this Instructables article also wrote a plugin for Inkscape - Tabbed box generator, which turned out to have the right combination of features I needed, which are:

  1. Don’t just spit out 493 isolated line segments.
  2. Measurements based on the inside dimensions, in inches.
  3. Kerf / cut width input, also in inches.
  4. Please don’t put notches on the top surface.

While I don’t LOVE inkscape, it has two useful features for this work that my other tools don’t.

  1. it speaks inches directly to the GF. I don’t need to pull stunts like adding a 20x12 ratio box in there
  2. it writes SVG directly, which shortens my edit - test - edit cycle.

I’ll post instructions on how to install the plugin in the comments, if anyone wants to know.

I took a prototyping approach to this project - make a rough cut in draftboard and only simple decorations at first to get the sizes and fit right, then iterate into maple ply as I converge. I did 6 versions in total and ended up 2 polished finished items (one for me and one for my son) and a bunch of perfectly usable protos.

Other family members are now requesting their own customised versions!

The one for the desk:

Business casual with an important motto for coders - don’t hitch your code wagon to someone else’s branch. Includes a slight lift (extended feet tabs) so I don’t moisture damage the desk, and air vents on the underside. The crumbly edge is Inkscape’s Fractalize feature, which helps to add an organic touch to the design.

I set the ‘cut width’ (related to kerf) to 0.006", which let the tabs snap together with a satisfying ‘click’. I probably didn’t even need glue for this one.

The boy’s room

A beginner owner of succulents only needs 3 slots for now, and a cute cactus logo I lifted from the internet. I took the fractal design to new depths, making every non load-bearing exposed edge have the desert feel. Also includes sturdier, taller feet and big air vents underneath.

The document

While I would certainly advise anyone to build their own using the above instructions and a dash of decorating flair, here’s the 4-slot design.


Mum the film nut

This design (details below) has a front reminiscent of a film cel; and uses sprocket like fingers to hold it on.


Love those crinkly tabs!


Very nice, agree with @cynd11 about the tabs.


What a great idea! Very fun project!


Excellent write up.

You can fix the invisible attachment by changing its size in the post. The attachment starts with something like [image|XxY], where x and y are numbers of pixels. SVGs tend to default to tiny numbers, but you can manually set them. Once you set it to a reasonable size it should be visible.


Nice looking succulent box. I really like the flourishes on the edges. Also, thanks for the link to the Instructables article. It’s the first time I’ve seen the article. Very useful.


While Inkscape for Mac is still missing the fillet/chamfer plug-in, I found a workaround that looks good:

  1. Extend the feet tabs, easy way is to double the ‘material depth’ when you generate the box; This extends all the tabs, giving me room for the crinkles. Otherwise just grab the ends of the feet tabs with the point editor and use shift-downarrow on the keyboard to shunt them 5-10 steps. Repeat for all feet sides.
  2. Select the poly line with tabs on.
  3. Use add nodes login to split each segment into 2
  4. Use the point editing tool to simply delete the point which touch the floor.
  5. Magically the line fixes itself with a nice curved foot


Genuine fractals courtesy of Inkscape’s fractalize feature.

I’m always looking for ways to add organic detail or unexpected subtlety to the edges and corners of designs.

It usually requires a lot of messing around with masks but this one was cheap and effective.


I didn’t know about the fractilize feature! I will be trying that out on my next aged cedar project!


i hate tab and finger joints - well done hiding the tabs behind the design. also, git <3. neat idea, actually, having cheat sheet entries on office plant containers.


Excellent project! (I tend to drown mine, but I love succulents!) :grinning:


Draftboard prototype of another design: film cell sprocket holes and sprockets take the place of the finger joints.

Lots of pixel pushing in Inkscape for this one.

Will re-do in acrylic as time permits-here’s a quick and dirty version with paint squeegeed on:

Painting in engraved slots in acrylic is super difficult for me to get right. For this one I did it real carefully using a mask and weeding after the paintwork (still wet) and ruined it by smudging. I then washed off the first attempt with acetone then used a stiff squeegee to push paint into the slots (no mask) and then a wet squeegee to wipe the excess off. Maybe I can fix the smears after it dries


Great idea with the film strip sprockets! :smiley:


Love the execution of a theme integral with the design


You made such lovely homes for the succulents. Each one has so much character. Love the individualized joints!