Boxing and shipping your knives can be an afterthought to the whole knifemaking process. I mean, we’re knifemakers after all and not box makers.
The overall value for a customer is evermore about the “whole package”. Knifemakers around the world have raised the bar to such a universally high level with their knives, that packaging and extras items like lanyards, beads, stickers, etc have been used to compete for collectors money. If the knife you make is amazing, and I’m sure it is, then the presentation should match or at least complement the knife. As kitchen knives are usually stored in a draw, knife block, or rack in most kitchens, so the box is primarily for protection during transport.
While it is not difficult to design a simple box in CAD, things can quickly become time-consuming when you start adding finger joints, internal dividers, or even folding lids.
Inkscape is already, a popular design program that knifemakers use to design knives. So the ability to also use it to design laser cut boxes is a great added bonus. Download (free) : https://inkscape.org/
So with laser-cut boxes, there is a lot of lines and corners which need to fit together. The good news is there is an Extension/Plugin that allows you to generate your box to the exact dimensions you need in 5 minutes flat. Download (free) : https://github.com/paulh-rnd/TabbedBoxMaker
Your laser cutting will know their machine’s capabilities and can advise you on what works best. I went with the below settings and it worked pretty well for me. Note that I used the Inside box dimensions so that I know my knives will fit inside the box. After you install the extension, open Inkscape and navigate to: Extensions -> Laser Tools -> Tabbed Box Maker
Adding your logo and or other design elements is a nice touch that just elevates the plain box to something that is less likely to end up in the dustbin. Fingers crossed!
Inkscape allows you to trace/convert an image directly to paths in a few simple clicks. Path – > Trace Bitmap…
I have the logo filled in blue just to have it stand out. If your laser cutter needs it on another layer or another colour, you can do that too.
Here is the final layout for the box that I send off for cutting. This will fit one of my kitchen knives with enough space for packing material but tight enough where the knife isn’t floating in a cavernous space, potentially leading to the knife becoming damaged during transit.
Export this to a *.dxf file format and send it to your preferred laser cutter. I currently use EtchAfrica for all my non-steel laser cutting. Roland has always given me great service and come through for me, even with little to no advanced notice from myself. Oops, my bad.
So there you have it guys, an easy and quick way of designing a box for your knives. Believe me I’ve designed a few over the past few years before I was happy with the dimensions. Mostly due to my knife templates changing and adding new logos.