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Clamshell Box for Skulls and Other Irregularly-shaped, Three-dimensional Objects


This box is designed to permit maximum visual access to skulls (and other 3-dimensional fragile objects) while limiting the need for handling when inspecting the contents of the box. The box is stable when opened on a flat table, allowing both hands to be free when inspecting the contents.



Brigid Sullivan
Collections Conservation Div.
Cultural Resources Center
National Park Service
Building 28
Charlestown Navy Yard
Charlestown, MA 02129 USA
Tel (617) 242-1979
Fax (617) 565-6859

Illustrations: Brigid Sullivan

Publication: 1992



The box is formed from a single sheet of alkaline buffered corrugated paper board, pH neutral water activated linen adhesive tape, hot-melt adhesive, and hook and loop fasteners. The symmetrical design of the box makes it stable when opened on a flat surface (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Completed clamshell box. Closures are
               constructed of nylon hook and loop material.

Materials Tools Supplies

  • Alkaline buffered, corrugated paper board
  • Glue gun and hot melt adhesive
  • Hook and loop fasteners
  • Linen adhesive tape, pH neutral, water-activated
  • Polyethylene foam
  • Ruler
  • Utility knife


  1. Measure the height, width and length of the specimen with a ruler, and add 2in to provide adequate clearance of the specimen when enclosed.
  2. Mark the measurements on a piece of the corrugated paper board as indicated in figure 2. Dimension (a) on the diagram indicates the length of the object; dimension (c) indicates the height; and dimension (b) must always be exactly half the height to form flaps when folded.
  3. Cut along solid lines in figure 2.

    Figure 2. Template for cutout. Dotted lines should be scored for folding.

  4. Score lines with a knife to partially cut through the paper board to permit folding (Fig. 2).
  5. Fold flaps in toward the center fold as indicated in figure 3.

    Figure 3. The flaps are folded in toward the center
                    fold and attached with linen tape.

  6. Push the sides down and so that the center fold is up and the box opens with the top and bottom resting flat on a table, as indicated in figure 4.

    Figure 4. The sides of the box are pressed down so
                    that the center fold is raised.

  7. Secure flaps with hot-melt adhesive and reinforce with the water activated linen tape as indicated in figure 5.

    Figure 5. The box with the center fold raised, with the top and bottom of the box resting flat.

  8. Attach hook & loop strips, with the loop side on the bottom of the box, and the hooked side on the bottom front of the box for closing (Fig. 1).
  9. For easy retrieval, place object on a polyethylene foam tray and slide inside the clamshell box.
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