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Custom-made, Double-Tray Phased Boxes


These boxes provide support for fragile, damaged, and/or rare books. They were developed to produce a microclimate container that does not add a significant amount to the thickness of the volume, thus conserving shelf space.

This box can be custom-produced for individually measured books in small or large quantities. It can be assembled by staff with no previous experience in box-making. Assembly on-site takes 30 seconds or less per box.

The book is accessible, can be viewed without removal from the box, and is fully supported by the snug fit of the box around it. The corners of the book also are better protected.

These boxes are suitable for disaster preparation programs, in that they offer a first line of defense against soot, smoke and water sprinkler systems. Their use in post-disaster recovery is also ideal because large quantities can be supplied rapidly, and labor on-site is minimal. The design is suitable for long and short-term protection of books.



Michael Waters
Box 1215
Emmitsburg, MD 21727 USA
Tel (717) 642-6304
Fax (717) 642-6596

Audio Visual Productions,
Quantico, MD

Illustrations: Michael Waters

Publication: 1992



This custom-fitting boxing system allows the design and production of boxes by computer-driven automated equipment.

Two types of custom-fitted boxes can be produced. Type #1 is a clamshell (double tray) book container, suitable for housing 90-95% of most collections (Figs. 1, 2).

Figure 1. Clamshell (double-tray) phased box containing a book.

Figure 2. Diagram of clamshell (double-tray) phased box before assembly.

Type #2 is an improved phased box that requires less shelf space than conventional phased boxes, and is used for very thin books 
(Figs. 3, 4).

Figure 3. Diagram of phased type box for thin books, before assembly. Circles represent placement of hook 
               and loop coins which keep the box closed.

Figure 4. Assortment of phased boxes. left, A two-part drop front box. center, A phased
               box for thin books (indicated by arrow). right, Clamshell (double-tray) boxes.

The boxes are shipped flat, thereby reducing shipping costs and space requirements. They are packed in order of measuring for convenience of retrieval.

Materials Tools Supplies

  • Book measuring device (to measure large quantities of books, or a ruler (to measure a few books)
  • Pre-cut, custom-made boxes fabricated from tan, long fiber, high alpha cellulose, lignin free (less than 0.5%) board, with less than 0.02% reducible sulfur, and an alkaline reserve of 3%. It is a dense, very durable, fine-flute corrugated board, 1/16in thick.
  • Pre-gummed computer labels


  1. Carefully measure the book and record the height, width, thickness, and the identification number for each volume. Accurate measuring is critical because the boxes can be made to 1mm tolerance. A measuring device using two parallel plates achieves good results.
  2. Select a labeling system. Labels can be made quickly and easily in-house using a laser printer on pre-gummed labels, or they can be purchased from the box manufacturer.
  3. Small orders, under 50 boxes, can be placed on an order form. For larger orders it is easier to record the measurements on a spreadsheet or word processing program using a computer. The information can be saved as a text or ASCii file, then sent on a disk to the box manufacturer.
  4. The boxes are sent packed in the order of measuring, and are ready for folding.
  5. Assembly of the boxes is very easy. Instructions are provided and no previous training is necessary.
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