making a glass negative storage box



So far, I’ve made a few storage boxes, in different sizes. This time, I’ll show you how to make one for yourself, step by step. It’s easy! I don’t even have table to work on and I can do it!

I’ll provide the measurements to make a loose lidded storage box for plates sized 16,5 x 21,5 cm (full plate) but obviously you’ll need to adapt these if your plates are bigger or smaller.


I used the following materials:


  • grey bookbinders board of 3 mm thick
  • a large sheet of paper to cover the box and lid once assembled
  • standard white wood glue (PVA glue)
  • a stiff haired brush
  • a small paint roller + tray
  • scissors
  • a ruler
  • pencil
  • a box cutter knife
  • a cutting mat
  • (optional) a bone folder (folding bone)
  • (optional) a metal/ wooden square, a little thicker than the glass plate
  • (optional) small amount of water, to dilute the glue


 1. Measure and mark the parts you need onto the bookbinders board, cut them out.

Start with the bottom: 18 x 13 cm

The width of your plate + spacing + 0.6 cm for the side boards = 16.5 + 0.9 + 0.6 = 18 cm. the depth can be whatever you want it to be, I chose to make it 13 cm, so it would fit a minimum of 10 plates.

Then the front/ back: 18 x 23 cm

The width is equal to the bottom plate. The height is your plate height + spacing, so anything over 21,6 cm would have been fine.

Next, the sides: 12,4 x 23 cm

The sides are sandwiched in between the front and the back, so substract (2 x 0.3 cm) from the width. The height remains equal to the front/ back.

Now, the lid, starting with the top: 18.6 x 13.6 cm

The lid is the size of the bottom + a little bit of space for the paper and movement (0.2 cm, increase this if you are using thick paper or fabrics) + board thickness x2 (0.6)

and the lid sides:

The front / back of the lid are the lid width x however deep you want to make the lid = 18,6 cm x 3,5 cm

The sides of the lid are the lid depth – 2x board thickness (0.6 cm) x lid depth = 13 x 3,5 cm

Finally, you’ll need a lot of spacers: 19 x 1 cm

The size of the spacers is not really important. Just mind that you do not make them too wide (too much contact with the plate is not necessary and could damage the image) or too narrow (if you put too much spacing in the width of the box, the plate could slide past the spacer and bump into another plate). Lengthwise I would suggest covering half the plate or more, leaving a couple of cm at the top so that plates can be taken out easier.

I used about 36 spacers in total.


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2. Assemble the sides with the spacers.

To assemble the box, start with placing the spacers. I had a lot of help using a carpenters’  square, but anything else which is straight and flat (and a little bit thicker than your glass negatives) will do.

Start with the sides, paste 2 spacers together and glue them at the very end of the side. All the ends should meet up exactly on the lower edge as you’ll paste this to the bottom later. Now place your square or other tool to help you place your spacers and work your way across, gluing them neatly in their spots. Finish with another double spacer at the end.


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3. Assemble the box and lid

Now, glue the sides to the front/ back and to the bottom. Again, a carpenter’s square may help, but you can always use another square, a corner, floor-wall etc. The sides should be sandwiched in between the front and back and the bottom placed underneath, turn it over, make sure it’s square and weigh it down whilst it dries.

Assemble the lid, and test carefully if it fits the box. You can cheat a little with the placing of the sides to the top of the lid to make it a tiny bit bigger if need be. Then set aside and weigh it down to dry.


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4. Covering the box with paper

I’ve covered my boxes from 1 sheet of paper per box. It might have been easier to use several little scraps, but hey – it looks nice! For this one in particular I have used a sheet of acid-free paper I still had, which is a bonus since I want the box to be as archival safe as possible.

Covering the box is a lot like wrapping a gift. Make sure that the paper fits all the way around your box, both in length and width. Glue the bottom onto the center, using either a brush or a roller. Make sure to flatten out the paper with your hands, or a folding bone before the glue sets or it’ll be all wrinkly.

Fold the paper up and around where it needs to be, cutting away any excess. Since this paper was long enough, but not wide enough to cover the box in the most simple manner, I’ve cut it slightly differently. Glue the sides, with help of the roller/ brush and the bone folder, then clip the paper in at the top and fold the paper over the edges, gluing it in place.

Cover the lid in the same manner and you’re done!

Good luck with making your own storage box 🙂


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