When I worked in the corporate world, I had one of those black plastic office supply caddies on my desk with the 15 billion little boxes and compartments in it, and I thought it was awesome. For about an hour. After that, I realized that the cute little door over my paperclips really just prevented me from getting at the paperclips, while the compartments that were too small for rubber bands and binder clips were not doing me any favors by holding random pennies, one thumb tack, and ten staples. If you’ve had similar experiences with a large company’s idea of convenient storage, you’ll appreciate this tutorial, which shows you how to build your own caddy for the stuff you want to store, in whatever quantity and manner you want to store it.
This is an upcycling tutorial, so you can raid your garage, your shed, and/or your local thrift store to make it happen. You can also use cool cover art from secondhand books to customize the look of your piece. I have been on a real sci fi kick lately, so I went for geek chic.
- A wooden Kleenex box cover or similar box to serve as the caddy (mine came from Goodwill)
- A Lazy Susan bearing (this is the piece that will make your caddy spin; more on this in a second)
- A drill, bolts, and nuts
- A shallow square box, larger than the Kleenex cover, to serve as a base (I used a cigar box and removed the lid)
- Book cover, comic book pages, or other materials as desired to decorate the wood pieces
- Gel medium and a foam brush
- Thick chipboard from the backs of two drawing pads
- A razorblade, and metal ruler, and a cutting mat
- Add-ons to the sides of your box: Metal boxes, alphabet blocks, coat hooks, cup hooks, drawer pulls, etc.
- Krylon sealant or Deco Art Triple Thick spray
Note: A Lazy Susan bearing is a pretty basic and inexpensive piece of hardware, but to find one, you’ll need an honest to God hardware store. They come in different shapes (namely round and square), as well as different sizes. If you don’t have a hardware store in your back yard, try the interwebz. I got my Lazy Susan bearing here.
1. We’ll start by making the inside dividers for your caddy. Measure the inside of your Kleenex cover from corner to corner, diagonally. Mine measured 7 3/4″. Measure the height of your Kleenex cover. Mine stood 6″ tall.
2. Using your razor blade, metal ruler, and mat, cut two pieces of chipboard to those dimensions. DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT CUTTING THE CHIPBOARD WITHOUT USING YOUR METAL RULER AS A GUIDE. I don’t want to have to come to the Emergency Room and slap you around while you’re sitting there holding your own finger in a cup of ice.
3. Find the horizontal center point on both pieces of chipboard and mark it. (Do not stress if you don’t get the exact mathematical center. Just get close.) At the center(ish) point on the first piece, cut a slit that is about 1″ long and about 1/8″ wide. At the center(ish) point on the second piece, cut a slit that is as tall as your piece minus 1 inch. In my case, my piece was 6 inches in total height, so my second slit was 6 inches minus 1 inch, or five inches in length. Again, be safe! Do not cut off any precious digits!
4. Hold your Lazy Susan bearing over the bottom center of your cigar box and mark the locations of the holes. Repeat this process with the Kleenex box. (The bearing will be located roughly where the Kleenex slot is.) Drill all of those holes.
5. Pull together your book covers, comic book covers, or whatever you’re using to decorate your wooden pieces. Plan your design first, then cut the pieces roughly to size. Using your brush, apply gel medium directly to the wood, then apply your paper, smoothing as you go.
6. Repeat this process with the dividers and the cigar box base if / as desired.
6. Cover everything with one more coat of gel medium to make sure it all stays in place, then pick out the pieces that you want to add to the sides and drill all the necessary holes to add those pieces on. I added a tobacco tin to hold paint brushes, a hook of the sort you typically hang on the back of a door for scissors and drafting tools, and some cup hooks to hold my gel pens.
You should add whatever YOU want to add to hold whatever YOU need to store!
7. When you have finished adding on to the sides, use a bolt to re-establish the holes in the bottom of the cigar box (i.e. just poke it through the paper).
8. Attach the Lazy Susan bearing by putting bolts through the cigar box to the inside of the Kleenex cover. I suggest using the shortest bolts possible so that you don’t interfere with your dividers.
9. Seal the piece and set it aside to dry. Once it’s ready, fill it with all of your supplies and tools! Yum!
Best of all, if you discover in three weeks that you wish you had different hooks, a little shelf, or even a wider base, you can make changes to your piece to fit your needs over time!