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Drop-Front Box: No-Glue, Folded-Tab Style


The purpose of the re-housing project is to get objects out of non-archival materials that were used following a major earthquake into housings that will keep the objects dust-free, viewable on the shelf, and to provide ease of viewing with limited or no handling when used for classes.


Angela Yvarra McGrew Object Conservator San Francisco Bay Area

Photo Credits: Angela Yvarra McGrew

Publication: 2016


Figure 1. Completed folded tap drop-front box

Figure 1. Completed folded tap drop-front box


The first version of the drop front box uses the basic template of a fold-tab box with minor modifications to allow one (or both sides) to fold down. The basic version of the folding tab box has the flaps tucked neatly inside the fold.

This design is one of two that was used during a major rehousing project.  The other Drop-Front Box – Tabbed Style is also available on STASH.  

McGrew Box style1-Figure 02 toolMaterials, Tools & Supplies

  • B-Flute (1/8”) or E-Flute (1/16”) corrugated board
  • Box cutter
  • Bone creaser
  • Wall mounted board cutter – Optional
  • Gridded ruler – Optional
  • Bag or oblong leather punch. Optional.  e.g. 1.75” long punch. They are all about ¼” wide. available at C.S. Osborne [Fig.2]


1. Start with the basic template for a standard fold-tab box. The diagram indicates how much must be added on to the basic measurements to accommodate the various creases and folds [Fig. 3].

McGrew Box style1-Figure 03 Basic Folding Box

Figure 3. Basic tabbed box template. Purple areas are those to be cut out. Dashed lines to be scored and creased.

Tip: If using the leather punch to cut the slots a 2 lb sledgehammer on wood is recommended, as is working on the floor as a regular table top may not be sturdy enough.

2.To turn this basic tabbed box template into a drop-front box, trim the flaps that are held down with the folds into a curved shape so that they can clear the slot. [Fig. 4]

Figure 4. Folding Box Trimmed for Drop Front

Figure 4. Folding Box Trimmed for Drop Front

3. To allow those flaps to slide in and out, make sure the length of the flap is only as long as the opening is high, in other words the length of this flap will equal the height of the box. This flap should be trimmed to a rounded edge to allow clearance as it moves in and out of the slot.

4. The crease on the fold down side is moved inward to equal the gauge of the board (B-Flute board this would be 1/8”, E Flute this would be 1/16”).

Tip: Score the lines first and make sure you move the crease line for the drop down side before you use the bone folder. 

5. Trim the opposing (non-fold down) flap so that the flaps do not overlap [Fig. 4 – areas indicated with blue triangles].  This will allow better clearance for the flap to go in and out of the slot.  The photo shows how the non-trimmed flap becomes an obstacle. Alternately you can tape down along the edge of the non-folding flap with Tyvek tape. [Fig. 5]

Figure 5. Flap clearance

Figure 5. Flap clearance

Tip: Instead of a ¼” gap for the fold if you are using E-Flute board (1/16” gauge) you can make the gap 1/8” – this will make the sides stay put even without a lid on the box.

If desired both sides can be trimmed so that the entire box will open flat. [Figs. 6-8]

McGrew Box style1-Figure 08

Figure 6.

McGrew Box style1-Figure 07 fully open folded box

Figure 8. Fully open folded box.

McGrew Box style1-Figure 06 exploding folded box

Figure 7. Folded box partially opened on both sides.


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