“Hinge Technique” Acrylic Box Construction

Craft & Design Workshop
“Hinge Technique” Acrylic Box Construction
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If you’ve ever tried to build a box from clear acrylic, you know how hard it can be to get good-looking joints between the panels. The folks at TAP Plastics have gotten pretty good at it, but even they admit that the basic slab-joint method “will not produce museum grade products.”

This video was produced by the German firm Serrox Technischer Handel, which sells plastics fabrication products. Unsurprisingly, it promotes a number of their specialized products, but I think the underlying process—which has very much to recommend it over the slab-joint method—could probably be adapted to do without them. It’s a bit difficult to describe in words, so you may save some time just watching the video, but I’ll give it a shot:

  1. 90-degree V-grooves are cut almost all the way through a rectangular sheet of acrylic—one groove parallel to and equidistant from each side.
  2. Strips of solvent-proof tape are applied to the ungrooved side of the plastic—one strip centered over and all the way along each groove.
  3. The plastic is bent and snapped at each groove. The strips of tape have become hinges.
  4. The four small squares of waste plastic in the corners are removed, and a couple bits of interfering tape are cut away with a razor.
  5. The sides of the box are folded up along the hinges. The tape has kept everything exactly in place, so all the miters line up perfectly. Strips of tape are applied at the four corners to hold everything in place.
  6. Solvent cement is applied along the inside of each mitered edge. When it sets, the tape is removed, and the box is complete.

The key process is cutting the 90-degree V-grooves, for which Serrox sells a special V-groove circular sawblade. I am led to wonder, however, if it couldn’t be done just or almost as well with a V-groove router bit, as long as you took steps to keep the cut from getting too hot…

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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