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How to Make Storage Baskets From Cardboard File Boxes

Making a DIY basket from a cardboard box and using rub-on transfers is a fun and creative project. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

decorated bankers box
Finished Basket/Box

Like most other items, basket prices have gone through the roof in the past two years! I used to use baskets for storage for lots of items I didn't want to see - office supplies, homeschool junk, books, etc. If it's not pretty, I don't want to see it laying around. But the price of baskets has become prohibitive... and we make plenty of money, or so one would think.

My business partner and I are getting ready to start seeing groups in our Equine Assisted Psychotherapy business. That means not just one handout per session, but six. Six handouts means six binders, six workbooks, six sets of pens, six clip boards, six... you get the idea. I had to find an attractive way to store it all so my dining table can stop looking like this:

table top with office supplies, horse supplies, and snacks
Embarrassingly Messy Table!!!

(Doesn't everyone keep their fly spray in close proximity to their kids' snacks?)

I have finished writing our curriculum, and am in the process of binding client workbooks for this weekend's group session, and I'm feeling anxious, so I went on the hunt to find storage solutions rather than work on the task at hand... but I'll work that out in therapy.

Flattened Boxes
Flattened Boxes

When my typical basket vendor, Homegoods, didn't have prices that I liked, I went to Walmart. Their basket selection has dwindled over the years, so I found myself perusing the office supply section when I came upon some file boxes. They had the plain white boxes, and also some with a diamond pattern. Three file boxes were $9.97, and I couldn't beat the price.

I knew there was something I could do to make these more tolerable, so I wouldn't mind looking at them on the open shelving in my living room.



  1. File Boxes

  2. Scissors - which I decided I didn't need, but you may want them for your project.

  3. A burnishing tool - I used a shim.



I had these rub on transfers left over from another project. The entire tube of transfers cost around $40, but I only used three of the sheets. So my project estimate took into consideration that I had already used some. I still have a few sheets left in the tube.

layout the transfer before applying
Layout Transfer

While the boxes were still unfolded, I decided on placement for the transfers by laying them out across the surface. I decided I liked mine to cover part of the end and also part of the left side.

Waxpaper backing
Remove Waxpaper Backing

After I had decided on the placement, I removed the waxed paper backing. (Do NOT do this till you are pretty darn sure! It's very difficult to reposition!!)

Oddly enough, I found an unused shim from our recent door replacement project in my daughter's craft caddy that we happen to keep on the dining table... an attempt to remind her that tape, scissors, and other craft supplies do not belong in bathrooms, closets, bedroom floors, etc. I cannot say that this has been highly successful, but I've made the effort. But why was there a shim from a door project in her caddy? I decided to use that to apply the transfer.

rub on transfer with burnishing tool
Burnish with a Tool

It is much easier to get the transfer to adhere to a box than a piece of painted furniture in my opinion, but that could be because the box is laying flat. I found this much more enjoyable than working on furniture.

Removing Acetate from Rub on transfer
Remove Acetate

Every so often I would lift the acetate and make sure the transfer was adhering nicely.

Ugly Box to Pretty Basket with Transfer
Ugly Box to Pretty Basket with Transfer

Not only do I love the look of the file boxes now, but I was able to write on them with Sharpie, and the transfer did not block the absorption.

I may forego baskets altogether for a while.

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