Back To School Basics: DIY Wooden Pencil Box Project

Back To School Basics: DIY Wooden Pencil Box Project

Dabney Frake
Aug 15, 2013

Freshly sharpened pencils. Crisp sheets of white-lined paper. Colorful paperclips at the ready. Do these things make you irrationally happy? Then you might like this easy DIY project for back-to-school (or for yourself of course) that celebrates clean slates and a new year of learning. Nerd alert!

What You Need


  • Blank Wooden Pencil Box (I bought mine for about one dollar at a local craft store, although Amazon sells a pricier version)
  • Chosen image, sized to fit on the top of your box
  • Lazertran
  • Turpentine (preferably in a spray bottle)

  • Scissors
  • Bowl of Warm Water


If you didn't read my earlier post on transferring images onto wood, here's a recap on my method using Lazertran. If you aren't familiar with the stuff, it's a decal of sorts. When you use it on wood, in conjunction with turpentine, the decal seeps into wood fibers. Once it's dry, the turpentine evaporates and leaves just the toner (and therefore the image) visible. 

1. Print out multiples of your chosen image onto a sheet of Lazertran, following the instructions on the package. I usually try to fit a couple of the same image on the page. That way, if I screw them up down the road, I have backups on deck. Or you can print up multiple designs on one page. Your choice.

2. Cut out your image in a rectangle so it's a tad smaller than the lid of the box. Whatever isn't printed will turn out clear, so don't worry about cutting close to the image. I try to cover most of the lid without spilling over the sides.

3. Stick the whole thing in the bowl of warm water, making sure that all of it gets wet. Leave it in there for a minute or so.

4. While the image is soaking, lightly spray a coat of turpentine onto the lid of the box. You want the whole surface to be covered, but you don't want pools of turpentine at the same time. Practice makes perfect here, and it might take a couple of tries to get it down.
5. The image is ready when it moves around easily on its backing paper. Slide it carefully off the paper and onto the wood. Make sure your hands are free of turpentine and lightly use your fingertips to smooth it down and remove any major bubbles. After a minute or so, the image gets stickier and sticker, so resist the urge to touch it further until it's totally dry. 

6. Let it dry completely before sliding the lid back onto the box. Load it up with pencils and your kid is good to go!

(Images: Dabney Frake)

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