How to Make a Reproduction Box Lid

Back in December of 2015, I bought a Crosman 451. It’s a 1969/70 CO2 .22 Colt 45 replica with semi-auto style blow-back action. I had actually been given one by my father some years earlier and had fallen deeply in love with these rare vintage air pistols ever since. However, as with many vintage air pistols, the one my father bought was without its box. I purchased my own 451 from a Canadian dealer and had it shipped to England. This one was complete with its box except, rather oddly, it didn’t have a lid. I was fairly confident that someday I would be able to make a lid to complete the package. Nearly two years later I have finally achieved my goal!

Probably the first blow-back replica air pistol produced – the Crosman 451

Over the course of time, I have studied many YouTube videos and websites to gain an understanding of how to manufacture a box. I found the videos by Sage Reynolds very educational in particular. However, I didn’t use all of his techniques whilst making the 451 lid.

Armed with knowledge from Sage, all that I needed was the materials and more importantly, an accurate copy of the cover graphic. I bought the materials a year ago from Craft Creations. The card is recycled greyboard in A2 size and 1,500-micron (1.5mm) thick. It’s thicker than the original box material. Perhaps a 1,000-micron card may have been closer to the original.

Time passed by until just recently, the final piece of the puzzle slipped into place. My good friend and also very very keen collector, Bobby Daily, from the United States took the plunge and carefully cut apart one of his 451 box lids! He must have been crazy! Nonetheless, with the help of old colleagues, he recreated the cover graphic perfectly and to the exact size. He even tried to get the correct colour tone for the original colours from Crosman as his box had undoubtedly aged.

Bobby’s “originals”

Bobby sent me some copies in the mail. It took weeks to arrive in England. I had almost given up hope when one day a note was pushed through the door. It was from the post office advising me that I had a package. However, there was a customs charge to pay. Rather annoyingly I forked out for the “gift”. Oh well, it was a small price to pay even though no money had exchanged hands in the first place. The government clearly wanted a piece of my cake!

Not only did he send me copies, he also showed me how he made his own replica lid. I studied these intensely before attempting to reproduce one myself. I produced two prototype lids to begin with. The first was a bit too tight and would split at the seams. The second was about right but I felt I could improve on the corners over Bobby’s method. The prototypes were good practice though. Especially working out how to fold the card.

Bone creaser for creating a crease line to aid folding

Normally, the best way to fold card is to crease it using a bone card creaser. You effectively indent the card along a bend line using a ruler and the bone creaser. Then folding should be very easy. However, with such thick card, it causes the other side to tear. I tried wetting the card which helped to a degree but also might dry in a deformed or bent state. Or worse separate the card which would make it weak. Bobby then suggested I cut the card with a sharp knife along the fold line. Not all the way through, just enough to allow the card to “snap” cleanly but without separating fully.

Before I went any further, I decided to get some copies of the prints as Bobby had only sent me one copy. I didn’t want to risk getting it wrong with the only copy I had. Luckily, a local stationery store also provided a copy and print service. They scanned in the “original” and printed out three copies for me. I decided to have matt prints rather than the “fresh” looking gloss as matt would have a vintage feel to it. However, the print colour did not match the “original” from Bobby. The red was orange and the black was a very dark grey. The store hadn’t colour calibrated their scanner and printer! Believe it or not, the orange matched the aged and faded look of the red almost perfectly and the dark grey turned out ok too on the finished lid. So all in all I was quite happy with the scan and print. Oh, I got a copy of the scan file just in case I need to make any more boxes.

Some keen readers may be wondering how I know that the Crosman boxes fade to an orange colour. Well, that’s because I bought a fully boxed 451 not too long ago!

Back to the article! Now that I had the materials, the prints and the know-how to reproduce the lid, it was finally time to make one!

I started by marking out the card. The short sides I made longer at each end by the thickness of the card so that when folded, they would sit flush against the edge of the long sides of the box. In the photo below, I have already cut the cardboard to size from a sheet of A2 card.

Mark out the cardboard
Close up of the corner

Here is a close up of one of the corners. Notice the lower line going from left to the centre vertical line. This is the actual fold line for the long side. The card should be cut along the vertical line down to the lowest horizontal line. This extends the side by the thickness of the card so that when folded, the short side fits flush against the long side edge.

Cut out around the hashed areas and remove the corners.

Next score the fold lines with the knife. Don’t cut all the way through. Just pull the knife over the line three or four times should do. You will have already worked out how many it takes to completely cut through when you cut the board to size at the beginning. You could practice on some offcuts first to get a feel for how far to score and then how to bend the card.

Next, I cut some picture frame tape into four equal pieces. I stuck the tape onto the cutting board and trimmed one of the short edges along a line of the cutting board. I then cut the tape into four equal pieces using a knife and steel ruler. Each piece was lifted off using the knife and then placed onto each corner as shown.

Taping the corners

Next, I took the cover and carefully measured the distance from each edge of the paper to the edge of the white border of the graphic in the centre of the print. I was then able to accurately apply this measurement to the rear side of the paper. I then drew vertical and horizontal lines that recreated the outline of the white rectangle but on the underside of the print. The idea is to be able to accurately align the cardboard box with the central rectangle of the graphic using these guidelines.

In practice, this worked well. I was able to align the box with the guidelines but as the box was a little larger than the white rectangle, I drew around the box so that I could place it back in the same position after applying the glue.

But before you apply any glue, more marking and cutting of the print is necessary. The long edges of the print will be folded around the corners to help add strength to the box. Therefore the long sides would need to be extended a little. I cut notches where the corners at the top of the box are. My thoughts were that the print may not particularly fold well otherwise. This didn’t work out so good and left the card visible at the corners. Next time, I would cut a 45-degree line from the corner out to the edge. This should make folding easy without causing creases and it would also hide the cardboard at the corners.

The side cut to size including the overlaps on the long sides

The last thing to do before applying glue is to trim the width of the sides so that they overlap and fold over to the inside of the box equally. With the cardboard in position, I pulled one side of the print up against the side of the box and marked it at the edge of the card. I then added say 1/3 of an inch for the inside of the box. Apply this to all sides and trim. If you find one side isn’t wide enough, adjust so that all sides match the smallest side. Now trim the sides to size.

Mark the wide of the box against the wrapper, then add extra for the inside edge

Providing you have measured correctly, when you turn the print over the cuts should be square and line up with the white rectangle of the top face of the print.

Ready for glueing to the cardboard box

Before glueing the print to the card I decided to test the glue first. I didn’t want to find out partway through that the glue would not hold the inkjet paper to the card as it may not be porous.

Testing the glue

I tested the glue, Craft PVA Glue, by applying it to an offcut of print and card. After fitting the print to the card I used a printer’s lino roller to firmly press the two together and remove any air bubbles. The roller helps to apply even pressure without leaving marks on the cardboard.

I left it to dry whilst I admired the 451. Thirty minutes later the glue had done its job. The print and card were firmly fixed together. I was now confident that I could continue.

The next step was to glue the top of the cardboard box to the print. I use a small paint roller with a gloss sponge to apply glue evenly to large surfaces. Put some glue into the roller tray and apply it just like paint. You may wish to apply a small amount of water to thin the glue. Only a tiny amount though. You don’t want it watery. This time I didn’t use water.

Glueing the top of the box to the print

I applied the glue to the centre section of the print only. Leaving the sides dry. You may also wish to add some glue to the top of the cardboard lid as well as the cardboard is very porous and soaks up the glue rapidly. When ready, place the lid onto the print making sure it is the right way around. I found that my lid aligned with the print in only one orientation and so I marked both accordingly. The PVA glue is not an instant glue and so it will allow you time to make fine adjustments to the position of the lid. Finally, use the lino roller to firmly fix the lid to the print and to press out any air bubbles.

Glueing the long side

Next, apply glue to one of the long sides of the print with the roller. You may need to apply some glue along the long side of the print where the print will be folded as the roller may not get the glue right up to the edge. Now, rather than pull the print up to the card, rotate the box keeping the folding edge firmly on the worktop until it is upright. This helps to get a good fold and prevents you from getting glue all over the print face. Always give your hands a clean if you get any glue on them otherwise you are bound to get glue on the face of the print. Press down firmly with your fingers but do not use the roller at this stage.

If you do get some glue on the print face, you can gently wipe it off with a damp sponge providing the ink is waterproof. You might wish to check this at the print shop before asking them to print any off.

Trim and fix the side flap in place

Now trim the side fold flush with the bottom of the box but leave the square attached to the long edge! The extra length along the long edge will be glued into the inside of the box corner. Once again adding some integrity to the box.

Apply some more glue to the short side you have just trimmed and to the card using a brush. Now fix the side flap onto the short side of the box. You may find that it will not stay in place. In which case you may hold it in place with your fingers or use a flat stick (lolly or popsicle stick) and a peg to hold it in place until dry. Repeat for the other end of the long side.

Next, apply some glue to the long edge of the print and card that is to be wrapped over the edge onto the inside of the box. Fold it over with clean fingers. I found it would not stay in place so I used some clothes pegs to temporarily hold it. Once I had folded the whole length over, I removed the pegs and used the roller to firmly fix the print in place. Trim the inside corner of the print to be flush or just below the edge of the card. Repeat for the other long side.

The print lines up with each side all around the inside of the box

Now fix the short side in the same way as for the long sides. The short sides are a little simpler and they merely fix to the side of the box then wrap over without any trimming necessary. If you have measured carefully, the print on the inside of the box should line up evenly all around.

Now it’s time to sit back, crack open a beer and admire your work…

Old on top, new on the bottom

I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed making it. Maybe it has given some of you the inspiration needed to make some replica boxes of your own.

Until next time, happy shooting!

Jimmie Dee

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