Creating a Custom Enclosure for Oversized Rolled Graphic Recordings
Items of an unusual shape or size perpetually pose problems of storage and access for archives. One recent example from the Smithsonian Institution Archives is a collection of six rolls of oversize drawings—a set of graphic recordings of planning sessions, which ultimately resulted in the formation of the current strategic vision of the Smithsonian. Neither flat nor offsite storage was possible due to the unusual dimensions, necessitating a custom housing that would remain in the Archives’ onsite storage. [See Image 1.]
The drawings were wrapped around archival cores fitted with corrugated board feet to increase stability and protect the bottom edges; these rolls were placed into a custom two-piece box, constructed onsite from more corrugated board. Both the box base and the lid are composed of two pieces attached with mitered flaps, with each piece pre-scored to ensure clean folds.
Materials, Tools & Supplies
- Archival-quality (pH-neutral, acid-free, buffered) cylindrical cores, 3” diameter
- Corrugated board (C-flute)
- Electrical-grade hot-melt adhesive, gun
- Linen tape
- Bone or Teflon folder
- Straight edge
- Box cutter or utility knife
1. Archival cores were mounted on stabilizing feet made from squares of corrugated board, using electrical-grade hot-melt adhesive
a. The size of the feet depends on the ultimate diameter of the documents being rolled around the core. Each roll added between ½” and ¼” to the 3” archival core in this example, so for safety the feet were cut to 4” x 4”.
2. Rolled drawings were jogged / aligned as closely as possible before being wrapped around the archival cores, taking care to ensure the wrapping does not pull the documents out of alignment, causing the edges to catch the stabilizing foot. [See Image 2.]
3. Short lengths of linen tape were cut and tied around the center of each roll.
4. Typed labels were prepared, encapsulated, and inserted beneath the tied linen tapes. [See Image 3.]
5. A simple diagram was prepared for the base of the box, taking the combined area of the stabilized archival cores for the bottom interior perimeter of the base, and using about ¾ the height of the tubes for the vertical dimension. [See Figure 1.]
6. Two pieces of corrugated board were cut to height, with an additional 2” allowance for mitered flaps to attach the pieces of the box.
Two pieces were used for each component of the box in order to make use of off-cut materials.
7. One piece was scored and folded along the flutes to form the front and sides of the box base, with mitered flaps extending from all three bottom edges. The second piece was scored and folded to form the back, with a mitered flap extending from its bottom edge, and with flush flaps extending from the vertical edges to attach to the first piece.
8. The two base pieces were attached by the flush flaps along the vertical edges with the electrical-grade hot-melt adhesive and held in place until the glue had set.
The vertical edges were adhered so that the flush edge flaps were located inside the box, to create a flush exterior.
9. Another piece of corrugated board was cut to fit flush with the exterior dimensions of the bottom of the box base, and was adhered by the mitered flaps with hot-melt adhesive. [See Image 4.]
10. An additional piece of corrugated board was cut to fit within the step created by the four mitered flaps in the interior of the box base and adhered with hot-melt adhesive, creating a flush base for the rolled drawings to sit on.
11. A lip was created around the box base for the lid to rest on, using a 1.5” strip of corrugated board cut to fit flush end-to-end, and adhered about 3” from the top of the box.
The position of the lip was chosen for a stable fit of the lid on the base. [See Image 5.]
12. Two more pieces of corrugated board were cut for the lid, with mitered flaps to attach them; height was based on the remaining 1/3 of the tubes’ height left exposed by the box base, with an additional allowance to prevent the edges of the drawings from knocking against the lid.
The drawings’ unusual height, which precluded them from being stored offsite, also meant that standard height archival cores fell either just short of the drawings’ height or much too large. Therefore, shorter cores were ordered, leaving 3” to 4” without interior support, and thus susceptible to handling damage if proper allowance was not made in the lid.
13. One piece was scored and folded along the flutes to form the front and sides of the box lid, with mitered flaps extended from all three top edges. The second piece was scored and folded to form the back, with a mitered flap extending from its top edge, and with flush flaps extending from the vertical edges to attach to the first piece.
The lid was scored and folded in situ, measuring directly from the dimensions of the box base to ensure the closest fit.
14. The two lid pieces were attached by the flush flaps along the vertical edges with the electrical-grade hot-melt adhesive and held in place until the glue had set.
This time, the vertical edges were adhered so that the flush edge flaps were located outside the box, to create a flush interior for a snug fit between lid and base. This meant the tops of the edge flaps had to be cut away to provide a flush top surface for the finishing piece to be attached. [See Image 6.]
15. Another piece of corrugated board was cut to fit flush with the exterior dimensions of the box lid, and was adhered by the mitered flaps with hot-melt adhesive.
16. With the base and lid complete, fit was checked, a label was prepared, and the rolls were safely stowed within. [See Images 7. and 8.]
oversize, graphic recordings, storage, custom enclosures