Wood kitchen match box or bin

I spent a couple hours in Sketchup last night working on a design for a kitchen match bin/box holder. My vintage tin bin is too big for the locally accessible boxes. I thought this would be a practical item. Quick search gives no real “match” :wink: to what I want to make. I’m designing using 90° angles but would think a living hinge curve for the bottom trough would perfect and more usable.


Sounds good to me - although I’d line the bin section with silver foil, or a piece of thin metal cut from a drinks can.

Here’s the first design in Sketchup. Material thickness is 6 mm or slightly less that 1/4 in. One issue to design around is the inability of the GF to cut angles. I think the living hinge would be perfect for the bottom front of the trough and that would solve that, but for this design I did an angle trough. I think it would be nicer in a thinner material, something about 4 mm. Next step is to convert faces to 2D and arrange for a cut file. I also would like to have some engraved design on the face.


Very cool congrats it will turn out awesome.

I’ve also been thinking about a living hinge for things like this - if you can reinforce it smartly with the side pieces I think it would look really nice. I’ve been thinking about ways to fix the hinge in place with epoxy or some kind of hardener. You could also cut or engrave a matching pattern to the living hinge in the front face.

Thanks for the perspective. I’m going to upload a cutfile for this first design. I would welcome any insights into the design and suitability of the joinery. Right now I am leaving the bottom and the back full lengths and will have to do some sanding or cutting to get the right bevel for the back bottom joint to leave no gaps. My original model didn’t deal with this. I’ll then work on transforming the bottom and trough facing to one piece with a living hinge. Will do some research as to how these work and also how to join them securely. This is all theoretical but great practice for getting the workflow down. You or anyone with access to a laser are welcome to use or modify as you wish.

I would advise using screws. Either you need a very tight fit, or you need to glue/paint it afterward, or you need screws. Tab connections like these tend to be pretty loose to begin with, and if loaded up with matches, that is a lot of weight pushing down on the bottom panel.

If I happen to have some material of appropriate thickness laying around, I will give it a shot cutting whatever you upload, and try to provide ample images of the cut results and assembly. Could be a useful first laser produced item to have in my house.

Thanks. That’s the kind of advice I need. Some type of mechanical joinery would be better instead of simple finger joints. I can’t imagine that this would work out from the start, especially in the fact that the tabs are sized for 6mm material. I put some Celtic knotwork on it it. It’s all paths to be able to select fill and stroke color and width. Not sure what actually works. I can send the *.svg if you want to have a go at it. Also the idea of how to position. In the cut file, does one try to save materials and space by having common lines for the parts?

Thanks @dan for pointing to the plugins for turning faces to *.svg in Sketchup. That saved lots of time.

One option to allow getting away with just glued joints and no mechanical fasteners would be to raise the bottom 1/8" off the counter so its tongues would be captive in 4-sided slots in the sides, front and back, instead of just nestled into 3-sided grooves on the bottom edges. @polarbrainfreeze shared some videos on designing and building a box like that, and I would think that would be plenty strong for something as light as matches/toothpicks.

Any comments on the engraving aspect of the project? I think the design is too big for that front, but I just slapped in on. This is where I am curious as to what detail to expect. How much space in between lines to cut and what to leave for the relief. The idea was to make the knotwork stand out in relief. So the gray is to be etched away. So in the cutfile I have paths ready to put into whatever color is necessary. The other way would be simpler. To etch the lines of the knot work.

Which one I might use will depend on tests.

Overlapping your lines is good for conserving material, if you are sending the Kerf mid-line, or don’t need absolute precision. It is a trade-off issue on precision vs material conservation.

One thing to make sure of is that where you overlap lines, you actually delete one of the two so it won’t pass twice on the same spot.

Next step having a bottom trough with a living hinge. Been reading up on them. Not quite sure what to use for joinery. One possible solution is to engrave a rabbet on the sides and slot the trough along the curved rabbet. Will play with that tomorrow and then mess around with the hinge.

Edit: Louisville hackerspace had this Inkscape Extension for living hinges. Just what I was looking for.

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I think that design would be great for a box that sits on a table or hangs on a wall. I have to look at dice tower designs. Same idea. I am no tabletop gamer so I had no idea that dice towers were a thing. The more you know.

I actually try and overlap the most lines possible on the cut files. That makes the cuts go faster, and you save some material. If you use Sketchup to make the cut files (like I show in my videos), you don’t need to erase overlapping lines. SketchUp will take care of that (as long as you make sure that nothing is a component anymore). But if you use InkSpace, you should make sure to erase the duplicate lines.

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The Inkscape plugin works well but then I have to import each separate I file into the main cut file. I didn’t try to select multiple faces. @polarbrainfreeze’s method of keeping it in Sketchup and making it all one component with shared lines might be just as efficient if not more. Just one export/import. So for Inkscape I’ll look for a plugin that automates the import. If not, that’s a good motivation to learn Python. Another reason to get your keyboard shortcuts down. Will work on this tonight.

And here is your matchbox in the real world @marmak3261.

In the album I have a shot showing a problem in the bottom corner, where a slight angle cut needs to be made for proper connection. Re-designing so that the bottom segment is a living hinge continuing from the back section would of course solve that. Though some living hinge options may cause matches to get stuck.

I found the celtic knot sitting with no lines over on the side of the file you sent me. Turns out I placed it on the wrong piece initially. I tried to fix that after the fact, but aligning on a hunch isn’t exactly a good idea, so it wound up slightly off.


@jacobturner like a boss!

Following this thread has been awesome, I’m loving the collaboration and sense of community.

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Seriously, this is really cool!

Wow, @jacobturner, you are amazing. Thanks for making this reality. Especially for posting the build process with the extra pictures at https://goo.gl/photos/6aFCsm8VUAhzu7nx7. The bottom back corner was problematic. I changed that design a little and figured I could make two beveled cuts by hand with a plane or disk sander. That would close it up. The box joints aren’t too bad. From what I see in the pics, a couple stand proud and there is a slight gap. Adjusting for materials will be important. I think I have the living hinge thing figured out but so much depends on materials. Since the inside of the curve will be under compression, I hope the gaps in the laser kerfs are minimal. The matches are about 1.5 mm thick. The aluminum can liner might be a cheap solution if needed as @ian suggested, or use some epoxy/hardener ask @Kusmeroglu noted above. The Celtic knotting looks promising. So glad the Glowforge will have those built-in cameras for alignment.
Something of a different scale in proportion to the space is called for, but at least with the laser cutter you used, you can see the desired effect. One possibility is to add color to the engravings and then light sand to bring back the wood survace. I was concerned that it might look too bulky with 6mm material, but in proportion to your hand, it’s not a bad fit. It sits flat on the table without tipping, so that’s good to know, at least without matches in. Wonder how the box of matches would fit. Again, thanks so much for trying this out. I’ll work on the living hinge design tonight. Great to collaborate with you. I can imagine the possibilities for collaboration using a Glowforge with those internal cameras. I imagine a new career: professional Glowforge attender. Only job is to switch materials and push the button and stand by in case of fire!


I slipped some superglue in a few of the tabs, and it is now holding together quite well. I wish I had the forethought to engrave around the nail hole to make a countersink for a screw. Or just in general make it bigger. But an actual nail is the proper way to hold this up, so maybe lacking those features will keep me from using a screw and messing things up :smiley:

I forgot that with a living hinge you are resting the matches on the inside curve, so the material will have less gap than what is cut.

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