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Six Drawer Pen Nib Storage Chest – How To

Happy Spring Everyone

Thanks for stopping by. Today I’m going to show you what I made this weekend and give you step-by-step instructions on how to make your own. (Of course, you’re welcome to jump straight to my shop and get one already made, if you prefer.)

Calligraphers usually have lots and lots of pen nibs. Some might be in tiny little baggies, some in envelopes, maybe a mint tin has been pressed into service or just a little paper box holds an annoying mish mash of hundreds of nibs. Maybe I can help.

I’ve been selling my ‘nib tins’ successfully for quite a while…

…just a few of the tins currently available at Old Raven on Etsy.

I also came up with a ‘Nib Book Storage’ model that allows you to organize and/or carry a large selection of varying nibs…

…these were an instant hit and I’ve made a number of them in widely varying decorative papers and even a custom book or two.

But today I want to show you the latest way to store your nibs, even hundreds of nibs, and this little unit can travel, too.

Let’s get started:

This is a 12-pack of ordinary boxed stick matches. They usually run around $5 for the pack. Just make sure none of the boxes are damaged.

Empty out all the matches. We will eventually be stacking the empty boxes into two sets of six, two towers of three each.

For now, we’re going to separate all the ‘drawers’ from their cases to let them air out and get rid of some of that Sulphur smell, it’ll pretty much be gone by the end of the project.

I’m going to line all the drawers with this self-adhesive vinyl contact paper in ‘Brushed Metal’. You can get a large roll of this, in just about any color you can imagine, for about $20.

I like to cut this stuff using a ruler, mat and rolling fabric cutter. You’ll need 24 pieces at 2″ x 1/2″ and 12 pieces at 1¼” x 2¾”.

Starting with two of the 1/2″ pieces, peel off the backing to expose the sticky tape on the back. Line up the long top edge of one piece with the long top edge of a drawer and smooth it onto the drawer’s inner side. Smooth it down firmly with a bone folder. Do both inner sides.

With one of the larger 2¾” pieces, line up an end edge with the drawer end edge and stick it down creasing it into the line where the side turns into the bottom and again at the other side where the bottom meets the box’s side edge. Smooth with the bone folder until you have good contact with all the shelf paper to the match box drawer surfaces.

I like the idea of this liner for pen nibs. It’s waterproof but it’s also very slick and smooth and should hold nibs cleanly and carefully.

It’s time to make the individual match boxes into a chest of drawers. I’ve put all the drawers back into the boxes and then stacked the boxes in the shape of a six-drawer chest.

I like Aleen’s craft glue and I’ve just covered the top of one box and then stacked the next one on top and then repeating the process with the final box.

Repeat for all four sets of three drawers.

The next step is gluing the inner walls of the two 3-box towers together. Make sure everything is lined up well before the glue sets. Let all this dry overnight.

Now we have two 6-drawer chests! Kind of ugly, though. The graphics on these are pretty bright and strong colored. I going to wrap the chests with an under layer before I add the fancy papers.

Using just plain white copy paper, I cut two 2 1/16″ x 9″ strips. I don’t want this paper to go right to the outside edges as it might show from under the fancy paper – so just a bit shorter for the under wrap.

I’ve been a little dissatisfied with ModPodge lately so I thought I’d try something new – it’s DecoArt/Americana DecouPage.

Starting at the middle on the bottom of the chest, I paint on a layer of glue and add the under paper.

Note how I started the paper over the crack where the two towers are glued together. This should help smooth out that seam when the fancy paper goes on. Smooth out the under paper with a bone folder and fold it sharply over the first edge.

Paint glue on one side at a time with just a bit going over the next edge and smooth each side down well with a bone folder until you’re back around to the bottom where you’ll have just a little overlap.

I don’t like the original box colors that show at the edges and I want my edges to match whatever paper I’m going to use, too, so I’m going to paint them in.

I went with “Desert Sand” by Americana. The bottle was ancient and the paint was basically a glob but I was able to work with it since it was the only bottle I had in that color. I just painted the outer edges, nothing on the front or back of the drawers.

This is a reprint from the 60’s (I think) of a book that was originally published in 1883. Inside is page after page of gorgeous pen and ink art. This is what I want to use for my cover paper. I chose a couple of pictures I really liked and after adjusting sizes I printed them onto a Vintage parchment-look paper. Of course, you could use whatever quality craft paper that you like.

This beautiful pen & ink bird with scroll is going to be my top piece. I just measured the top, cut the bird piece to match. I don’t like the bright edges of cut paper to show so I always use an ink pad and sponge to ‘smudge’ the edges. In this instance I went with a Coffee colored ink to add to the Antique look of this parchment paper.

I also went all the way around my chest with the sponge smudging, getting into the edges of the drawer holes and the drawer edges, too. See the difference it made from the chest on the left?

I used the DecoPage to glue the bird print on to the top. This is my favorite part of a project, when you can start to see how it’s all going to look when it’s done.

The DecoPage is also a sealer. This bottle is a Matte finish. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cover the outer surfaces with the sealer as this particular chest has areas on it that could be written on. The scroll on the bird(s) piece could be ‘personalized’ by the final owner. I tested another piece of this paper with the sealer and after the sealer had dried I could write on it with pen and ink, though the letters did ‘soften’ out a bit. I also tried writing with a fine tip Sharpie and that worked really well. So, with that test passed, I went ahead and sealed all the outer portions of this chest with the DecoPage. I DID NOT cover any of the inner pieces of the chest with the sealer. Usually, things that are meant to slide, like these drawers, don’t do well if their runner pieces have glue touching glue, even when they are completely dry.

But the photo above is the completed project. Here’s a few more pictures.

This is the bottom of the piece. I know it will rarely be seen, but I like to cover all sides of my projects. Plus, the decorative papers add another layer of stability to a chest, that is after all, made of simple match boxes.

This piece turned out very nicely, indeed. It has a wonderful ‘patina of age’ to it.

But when those drawers slide open, this chest is all about organizing and safely storing hundreds of nibs. This little unit is also very light and will travel easily as the drawers don’t just fall open, you need to push them out which is perfect for going on the road.

I hope you liked my project, I sure had fun making it. Though I just listed this chest yesterday, it already sold! But don’t worry, I’ll have another listed shortly, in a different pattern paper that’s ooooh, so pretty.

I’ll also be making another of the pen & ink version, with a little different art work (I don’t like to make exact copies, but always originals) and I should have that up in my shop soon.

Here’s the link:

***I can always make something special – just for you. Do you love the 6 Drawer Nib Storage Chest but crafting such things isn’t your bag? Send me a message when you’re in my shop and let me know what your perfect nib chest would look like and I bet we can make it happen.

That’s all for now.

Please take care – Kriss

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