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Subject: How to make a tuckbox rss

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Isaac Citrom
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How to Make a Tuckbox

Here's an FYI if you want to make your own tuckboxes for the cards in your games. Note that many BGGers have already uploaded tuckbox templates to be found in the Files section of the various game entry pages. But, if you want to make your own, here's how to do it.

A tuckbox is very simply the cardboard box that conveniently stores a deck of cards. It is a much better way to store cards than an elastic band which will mark the cards pretty quickly. You definitely don't want your cards marked as that will tend to identify the card during play. However, a nicely sized ziploc bag holds a deck of cards pretty well too.

Ideally, a game would already come with tuckboxes for the included cards but most games do not.

Also, tuckboxes can be used for other game parts other than cards. For example, there are tuckbox templates here on BGG for the hexes in Catan as well as the monster chits in Arkham Horror.

Basically, you print out the template for a tuckbox, cut it out with an x-acto knife, fold it, and then glue it. Below are the devilish details.


Layout

There are a few ways to layout a tuckbox. The images below are my preferred layout.


Basic layout of a tuckbox (example: Arkham Horror)

This layout is for a standard U.S. Letter sized sheet of paper or A4 sized, which is slightly smaller. The trapezoids (trapezia) without graphics are tabs which are used as connecting and gluing surfaces. Each tab ends up hidden away inside the completed tuckbox.

Note the orientation of the graphics as to which ones are upside down. This is necessary so that the completed tuckbox's graphics appear correctly.

I like to leave a tiny sliver (1.5 pixel, 0.008 in, 0.2 mm) of white in between the tuckbox faces. This is very useful when it comes time to fold.

A limiting factor is the thickness of the deck of cards. For this size of paper, one is limited to about an inch (~2.5 cm) or so. If your tuckbox will be thicker, you will need to split the template across two sheets of paper. For example, the tuckbox template below for Memoir '44 was too large for a single sheet of paper. Here is the layout across two sheets.

.

Layout of a deeper tuckbox across two sheets of paper (example: Memoir '44)

This two-sheet layout is identical to a one-sheet layout with one exception. There is an extra tab on the right-hand template. This is used to connect the two halves of the tuckbox. On which half the extra tab appears doesn't actually matter. In this case the extra tab is on the right half.


Designing the Tuckbox

The first thing to do is to decide how to divide up the cards that come with your game. Sometimes this is self-evident and other times not. I wanted to make a minimum number of tuckboxes. So, for example, Arkham Horror comes with a bunch of thin Location decks, each with just a few cards. I didn't want to make a tuckbox for each and every deck. I collected all the Location decks into one larger deck. Note that thin decks are a little bit more cumbersome to glue up.

The next thing is to take your measurements. The width of the tuckbox is the width of a card plus 1/16th of an inch (0.0625 in, ~1.5 mm). This allows for a little breathing room inside the tuckbox. Otherwise, the fit will be too tight and make the tuckbox troublesome to use. Likewise, the height of the tuckbox is the height of a card plus the 1/16th of an inch.

The depth of the tuckbox will be the thickness of your deck of cards. Hold the deck in your hand, not too loosely, and measure the thickness. Again, add a sixteenth of an inch.

Note that these measurements should be taken for the practical size of the playing card. That is, if your cards are sleeved, the measurements to be taken are for a sleeved card and deck. Pay attention to take new measurements for sleeved cards where the card peaks out the top of the sleeve somewhat.


Drawing the Tuckbox Template

How do you know if a tuckbox will end up on one or two sheets. If the deck is about an inch (2.5 cm) or so thick, it will fit on one sheet. But, simply draw for a one sheet template. Later, if you see that the template will not fit on the one sheet, it is very simple to copy your work to a second template document.

Note that it is important to keep your printer's margins in mind. Many printers will not print right to the edge of a sheet of paper. For example, my printer requires a margin of a quarter of an inch on all sides.

You will need to use a graphics editor software application. Examples are CorelDraw, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Paint.NET, GIMP, and Inkscape. There are many, many other products, some for purchase, some for free. I have almost no graphics editing experience. I think I would have been very happy with the Adobe or Corel products but I wasn't going to buy a package at this time. I tried the open source ones and settled on Inkscape.

In this FYI I'm not going to go into depth about the use of graphics software. I assume that you will master the graphics software of your choice to the level needed to make use of it in this application.

The graphics on my tuckboes look great because the images I used were made by experienced graphic designers who know these tools backwards and forwards, and can compose these amazing images. The most I did with Inkscape is to scale and crop images I took from a couple of sources. The only drawing I did were the simple geometrical shapes I used to make the tabs and a couple of other parts.

Where to get graphics is very simple. Each game's BBG entry has a ton. You can use the BoxFront and BoxBack filters in the Image Gallery to quickly filter in on relevant images. If you would like to use the actual card front or back, a lot of the game entries also have such images. Use the Components filter to zero-in on them. The only other source I used if I didn't find what I liked in the Image Gallery for a game is the game publisher's website. Between the two I found everything I wanted.

As mentioned, all the sides of the tuckbox are images. You will never find exactly the right sized image. Using Inkscape I cropped images for use on the front and back of the tuckbox and then scaled them to the required measurements. I cropped new images for the tops and new images again for the sides. The reason I did this is that scaling the images used for the front of the tuckbox gives you squashed images for the tops, and likewise for the sides. Sometimes I used the same image all over and other times I used different images for the top or side of the tuckbox.

I leave a tiny sliver (1.5 pixel, 0.008 in, 0.2 mm) of white in between the tuckbox faces. This is very useful when it comes time to fold.

A Common design element of a tuckbox is a half circle indentation on the front face. This allows one to easily open the tuckbox.


Tuckbox indentation on the front face

Use your graphics software to create that. Likewise, take a copy of the front face and create the closing flap. In this way, when the tuckbox is closed, the image from the front flap exactly fills out the missing half circle from the front face. A minor detail but there it is.



Note that the tabs are trapezoids (trapezia for our European friends). This shape, though not an absolute must, makes for a a cleaner and tighter fit when gluing.

Inkscape is at the time of this posting in version 0.46. It doesn't print correctly at all. So, I exported the graphics as an image and I inserted it into a Microsoft Word document. I made sure the scale was set to 100% because I was working with a full page size in Inkscape already. Then print.


Paper

So far, for all my tuckboxes I used plain white 110 pound heavyweight paper or card stock. It works fine but I find it is not quite thick enough. I think I might switch to 145 pound card stock in the future.


Cutting

Cutting out the template is a little tedious but it is pretty straightforward. I used a metal ruler with a cork base and an x-acto knife with a pointed blade. The pointed blade allows me to make exact starts and stops as well as makes cutting curves easier.



I cut on a self-healing cutting mat. I and my boys have used such a tool for a long time for all kinds of crafts and projects. You can cut into it but it never leaves any cut marks.



Once you are done cutting out the template it is important to score the fold lines. As if cutting, gently scrape the pointy tip of the x-acto blade along the score line. Almost no pressure at all is needed. But, when it comes time to fold, you will get a clean, crisp, straight fold.

If you examine a tuckbox made at a proper printshop there is a cut at the fold line of the closing flap on each side. This works with the tabs on the top of the tuckbox to keep the closing flap closed. The last step before folding is to make these cuts freehand.




Gluing

You can use a couple of products to glue up the tuckbox, such as a gluestick. However, I prefer 1/2" (~12.5 mm) double-sided tape. It is convenient and glues well. It just takes a bit of getting used to so that you don't fill up the tape with your own fingerprints which decreases the stickiness of the tape.

Prefold the tuckbox. Tabs A and B remain unglued. These are the normal tabs you find at the opening of any tuckbox. They help in keeping the top cover closed.

This is my preferred gluing order:




Tools & Supplies

In summary, this is what you need:

1. 110 lb or 145 lb white card stock.
2. 1/2 in. (~12.5 mm) double-sided tape.
3. An x-acto knife with a pointed blade.
4. A suitable cutting surface.
5. A hard-edged ruler, preferably metal.
6. A graphics editing software application.
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Darin Stephenson
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Thanks for posting this. It would have been really handy when I made all of those Through the Ages tuckboxes... Now I'll do better when I try it on another game.
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Neil
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Great, clear instructions! Thanks so much for so generously writing this up!

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Jed Hastwell
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Great, detailed post. I would just like to add a few of my thoughts from my own experiences in making tuckboxes.

In terms of the layout, I prefer to move the bottom glue tab to the other side - so in the glue order picture, move the tab labelled 3 to the bottom of the other main face. The tab will then be glued to the bottom face rather than the wall meaning that you won't have a tab pointing up in the box which cards can get caught on while they are being inserted.

Also, you can avoid leaving thin white guide lines between the faces by including crop marks. Crop marks are thin guide lines that sit outside the main usable area along each fold and cut line. They also mean that you can provide extra ‘bleed’ area by making the face images slightly bigger that the usable face area (extend over the actual cut/fold line). To take advantage of the crop marks, score along the fold lines first - before you actually cut out the box.
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Isaac Citrom
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nnjed wrote:
Great, detailed post. I would just like to add a few of my thoughts from my own experiences in making tuckboxes.

In terms of the layout, I prefer to move the bottom glue tab to the other side - so in the glue order picture, move the tab labelled 3 to the bottom of the other main face. The tab will then be glued to the bottom face rather than the wall meaning that you won't have a tab pointing up in the box which cards can get caught on while they are being inserted.

Also, you can avoid leaving thin white guide lines between the faces by including crop marks. Crop marks are thin guide lines that sit outside the main usable area along each fold and cut line. They also mean that you can provide extra ‘bleed’ area by making the face images slightly bigger that the usable face area (extend over the actual cut/fold line). To take advantage of the crop marks, score along the fold lines first - before you actually cut out the box.


I'm not going to emend the original post but Jed makes some good points. I'm going to try out what he says.
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Captain Ordinary
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nnjed wrote:
The tab will then be glued to the bottom face rather than the wall meaning that you won't have a tab pointing up in the box which cards can get caught on while they are being inserted.

Good thinking. I'm actually amazed how many game companies get this wrong; especially the ones who don't glue. Then the cards like to come out of the bottom of the box.
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Martin DeOlden
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For those who have good photos or pictures of what they want to use ready to go this is a great tuckbox generator that can be sized to your need and allow for different pictures of whatever you need. I print to a PDF so I always have a copy just in case anything happens to a box I create.

http://www.comfused.be/flex/tuckboxmaker/v1.swf
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Karim Chakroun
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tawnos76 wrote:
For those who have good photos or pictures of what they want to use ready to go this is a great tuckbox generator that can be sized to your need and allow for different pictures of whatever you need. I print to a PDF so I always have a copy just in case anything happens to a box I create.

http://www.comfused.be/flex/tuckboxmaker/v1.swf


I think you're linking to an older page the following should be the actual finished tool :
http://www.comfused.be/flex/tuckboxmaker/v3.swf
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Isaac Citrom
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nnjed wrote:
Great, detailed post. I would just like to add a few of my thoughts from my own experiences in making tuckboxes.

In terms of the layout, I prefer to move the bottom glue tab to the other side - so in the glue order picture, move the tab labelled 3 to the bottom of the other main face. The tab will then be glued to the bottom face rather than the wall meaning that you won't have a tab pointing up in the box which cards can get caught on while they are being inserted.

Also, you can avoid leaving thin white guide lines between the faces by including crop marks. Crop marks are thin guide lines that sit outside the main usable area along each fold and cut line. They also mean that you can provide extra ‘bleed’ area by making the face images slightly bigger that the usable face area (extend over the actual cut/fold line). To take advantage of the crop marks, score along the fold lines first - before you actually cut out the box.


Jed, I made two more.

About moving the bottom tab over. I find it makes for a better sliding tuckbox but it is trickier to glue. I only made two so far in this way but it seems as if they are not as cleanly sharp as with the tab on the other side. I'll try a couple more and then decide.

As for bleeding, it occurred to me that it is not necessary here. Bleeding is useful if one is making true folds, with a folding bone for example. But, here we are scoring and you will get a white edge anyway.

In any case, I definitely prefer my sliver of white as opposed to the registration marks. I'm switching back for that.

Thanks again.
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Jed Hastwell
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isaacc wrote:

Jed, I made two more.

About moving the bottom tab over. I find it makes for a better sliding tuckbox but it is trickier to glue. I only made two so far in this way but it seems as if they are not as cleanly sharp as with the tab on the other side. I'll try a couple more and then decide.

As for bleeding, it occurred to me that it is not necessary here. Bleeding is useful if one is making true folds, with a folding bone for example. But, here we are scoring and you will get a white edge anyway.

In any case, I definitely prefer my sliver of white as opposed to the registration marks. I'm switching back for that.

Thanks again.
.



It is true that moving the bottom tab can make it slightly more difficult to glue. I guess it depends a bit on how thick the cardstock is. If need be, you can make the face with the glue tab very slightly shorter at the bottom than the other faces to account for the thickness of the card when folding. But this makes for extra work when creating the template. You would probably only bother if the cardstock was quite thick.

I agree with the point about the unavoidable white edge. I guess I'm just used to using crop marks for other things so I've carried it over. I think I prefer to line my ruler up to crop marks rather than the printed edge because when you're attacking it from the outside, the ruler is not transparent so you're not sure if you are right at the edge or not. Crop marks feel more precise to me... But then I'm a perfectionist.
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Helen Holzgrafe
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Having designed and made around a thousand tuckboxes now, I'll chime in and say that you can cut out a tuckbox with scissors in under a minute and for my money it's also way more accurate than using an x-acto knife.

You can cut time also by putting the doublestick tape on the flaps before you cut, but I would not recommend that for a novice.

You also do not need to score the folds unless you are using unusually stiff paper. Just hold the two corners of your line to fold and run it along the edge of your desk or table and you'll get really sharp folds.

The flaps also don't need to be trapezoids, either. Just a 1/2 millimeter cutout for the side flap nearest he bottom edge. The others easily can be rectangles and reduces your cutting, too.

For me, once properly designed (which takes quite a while for me to do it to my standards) a box takes about 3 minutes total to construct.

-Helen
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Albert Hernandez
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If you have Powerpoint on your computer, you can use the template maker tool I uploaded to draw your box and then fill it with gfx.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/file/info/24635
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Tyson Manwarren
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Shameless plug for my program if you haven't checked it out yet:

http://tuckbox.gameupdates.com
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John Mitchell
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Thanks for this - very clear. In a similar vein, here in the UK you can buy (circular)tins of so called 'travel sweets' from petrol stations etc. They are made by a number of companies but all seem to measure c. 10cm diameter and c. 4 cm hieght and into which Settlers of Catan hexes fit perfectly!
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Dave Benhart
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Here's a website that will make the basic form of any size (up to 2" thick) for you.
http://www.cpforbes.net/tuckbox/

You can then load the PDF it creates into your imaging program and invert it (left-to-right) to get the layout shown above and applying the graphics to the outside. Or, just print out the PDF as is to get the template. This will put all the text on the inside of the box. Be sure to print out in landscape mode either way!

For paper, I take a manila file folder (like what you can find in any office), and cut it in half along the fold. It's nice and sturdy and holds up pretty well.
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Joe Niezelski
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Does anyone have some advice for where to buy 110 or 145 pound cardstock? My local Staples only seems to go up to 32 or so, which isn't really that helpful.

As far as the manila folder suggestion, I have a couple of questions. Would the ink from an inkjet printer stick to it? And does the manila base mess with the colors when printed?
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William McDuff
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110# Cardstock seems to be the right size.

However, Issac didn't mention the enevelope style tuckes for when you just have a few cards (like the fifteen in Pandemic).

Now, if you'll pardon me, I'm going to have to make new ones for Catan for splitting up the 3-4 and 5-6 components...and giving them sleeves.

OCD urges...rising...
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Celina
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I get my 110 cardstock from Office Depot & Sam's.

I also protect my inkjet inks with a spray on fixer I get in the craft section of Walmart. It is right next to the modpodge. It smells to high heaven, so I don't use it in the house & give the pages about an hour to stop smelling before I bring them in the house.
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Taylor Harter
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Thank you so much for the guide,

I am actually looking for recommendations for or against certain printers for doing tuck boxes on 110 - 145lb card stock

Inkjet or laser is fine and color is obviously required the only thing Is I am not looking to spend a mint, I need a decent printer anyway but if it hemorrhages ink or is $1000 retail I am better off getting my stuff professionally done. Though that does take the fun out of it

So what have you guys had good or bad experiences with?
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Rick Holzgrafe
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We really have not seen the need for heavy cardstock. We use double-sided matte-finish paper, which is heavier than regular paper but still works just fine in a standard photo-quality inkjet printer. The results look great, and do a perfectly good job of protecting the cards.
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Celina
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magnuscalgar wrote:
Thank you so much for the guide,

I am actually looking for recommendations for or against certain printers for doing tuck boxes on 110 - 145lb card stock

Inkjet or laser is fine and color is obviously required the only thing Is I am not looking to spend a mint, I need a decent printer anyway but if it hemorrhages ink or is $1000 retail I am better off getting my stuff professionally done. Though that does take the fun out of it

So what have you guys had good or bad experiences with?


I have a Canon Pixma 6000 (an inkjet), which I like very much. I do a lot of papercrafting, and I replace my inks about twice a year. The printer was cheap, I've been very happy with it. I normally print on 110 pound card stock.
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Lee Massey
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Will 110 cardstock work in a regular inkjet printer? I have a HP Printer but I'm scared to use the cardstock in it! What do you think?robot
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Ivo van der Horst
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JackFlash wrote:
Will 110 cardstock work in a regular inkjet printer? I have a HP Printer but I'm scared to use the cardstock in it! What do you think?robot
Try one sheet, then you'll know. No paper/cardstock jam is completely unfixable, and from then on you'll know if the printer can handle it.
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Lee Massey
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Thanks, I will try that!
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JackFlash wrote:
Will 110 cardstock work in a regular inkjet printer? I have a HP Printer but I'm scared to use the cardstock in it! What do you think?robot


You should check your manual for the printer, it will usually indicate the range of paper thickness it can take.
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