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BoxMaker: A free tool for creating boxes using tabbed construction

version 0.99 - 04 June 2020

Original box maker by Elliot White - http://www.twot.eu/111000/111000.html Heavily modified by Paul Hutchison

About

This tool is designed to simplify and speed up process of making practical boxes using a laser cutter (though it can be used with any CNC cutter) to prepare the pieces.

The tool works by generating a drawing of the pieces of the box with the tab and hole size corrected to account for the kerf (width of cut), these pieces are composed of sides, each side being a discreet object, to move a piece in the drawing the edges need to be grouped together.

Release Notes

This is a major upgrade to support Inkscape v1.0. It is not fully tested and should be treated as BETA. So far no serious bugs( i.e causing runtime errors ) have been found. The program works with Python 3.x ONLY.

Donate

Any donations will be gratefully received and help me spend more time on laser cutter tools like this:

To do

  • Tidy the code - it is rough and unpythonic. Needs some work by a master Python guru.
  • Improve program documentation. Improve input checking to restrict values to correct solutions.
  • [Schroff] Maybe replace the somewhat obscure collection of Schroff rail input data with a dropdown box listing well-documented rail types (Vector, Z-rails, whatever it is that Elby sells, others?)
  • [Schroff] Add support for multiple mounting holes per rail where possible (this would definitely make the previous todo item worthwhile)
  • [Schroff] Add support for 6U row height

Use - regular tabbed boxes

The interface is pretty self explanatory, the extension is 'Tabbed Box Maker' in the 'Laser Tools' group ( hopefully more tools will soon{ish} join it ).

In order of appearance:

  • Units - unit of measurement used for drawing

  • Box Dimensions: Inside/Outside - whether the box dimensions are internal or external

  • Length; Width; Height - the box dimensions

  • Tab Width: Fixed/Proportional - for fixed the tab width is the value given in the Tab Width, for proportional the side of a piece is divided equally into tabs and 'spaces' with the tabs size greater or equal to the Tab Width setting

  • Minimum/Preferred Tab Width - the size of the tabs used to hold the pieces together

  • Symmetry - there are two styles of tabs avaiable:

    • XY Symmetrix - each piece is symmetric in both the X and Y axes
    • Rotate Symmetric ("waffle block") - each piece is symmetric under a 180-degree rotation (and 90 degrees if that piece is square)
  • Tab Dimple Height - the height of the dimple to add to the side of each tab, 0 for no dimple

  • Tab Dimple Length - the length of the tip of the dimple; dimples are trapezoid shaped with 45-degree sides; using a dimple tip length of 0 gives a triangular dimple

  • Line Thickness - Leave this as Default unless you need hairline thickness (Use for Epilog lasers)

  • Material Thickness - as it says

  • Kerf - this is the width of the cut ( e.g for 3mm acrylic on an epilog cutter this is approximately 0.25mm )

  • Joint Clearance - this value is subtracted from the kerf in cases where you deliberately want slightly slacker joints ( usually zero )

  • Layout - controls how the pieces are laid out in the drawing

  • Box Type - this allows you to choose how many jointed sides you want. Options are:

    • Fully enclosed (6 sides)
    • One side open (LxW) - one of the Length x Width panels will be omitted
    • Two sides open (LxW and LxH) - two adjacent panels will be omitted
    • Three sides open (LxW, LxH, HxW) - one of each panel omitted
    • Opposite ends open (LxW) - an open-ended "tube" with the LxW panels omitted
    • Two panels only (LxW and LxH) - two panels with a single joint down the Length axis
  • Dividers (Length axis) - use this to create additional LxH panels that mount inside the box along the length axis and have finger joints into the side panels and slots for Width dividers to slot into

    • Note: dividers only work properly when using XY-symetric tabs
  • Dividers (Width axis) - use this to create additional WxH panels that mount inside the box along the width axis and have finger joints into the side panels and slots for Length dividers to slot into

  • Key the dividers into - this allows you to choose if/how the dividers are keyed into the sides of the box. Options are:

    • None - no keying, dividers will be free to slide in and out
    • Walls - dividers will only be keyed into the side walls of the box
    • Floor/Ceiling - dividers will only be keyed into the top/bottom of the box
    • All Sides
  • Space Between Parts - how far apart the pieces are in the drawing produced

  • Live Preview - you may need to turn this off when changing tab style, box type, or layout

Use - Schroff enclosures

Much the same as for regular enclosures, except some options are removed, and some others are added. If you're using Elby rails, all you'll need to do is specify:

  • Depth

  • Number of 3U rows

  • Row width in TE/HP units (divide rail length by 5.08mm/0.2")

  • If multiple rows, inter-row spacing

Windows Installation

Boxmaker.inx, Schroffmaker.inx and Boxmaker.py need to be put in the inkscape extensions folder, generally in:

%APPDATA%\inkscape\extensions

or

...\Inkscape\share\extensions

Inkscape will need to be restarted after you install.

Linux/Mac Installation

Boxmaker.inx, Schroffmaker.inx and Boxmaker.py need to be put in the inkscape extensions folder, generally in:

usr/.../Inkscape/share/extensions

  • NOTE: you need to make boxmaker.py executable, using something like this:

    chmod a+x boxmaker.py

Inkscape will need to be restarted after you install.

Version History

version Date Notes
0.5 ( 9 Oct 2011) beta
0.7 (24 Oct 2011) first release
0.8 (26 Oct 2011) basic input checking implemented
0.86 (19 Dec 2014) updates to allow different box types and internal dividers
0.86a (23 June 2015) Updated for compatibility with Inkscape 0.91
0.87 (28 July 2015) Schroff enclosure add-on
0.93 (21 Sept 2015) Updated versioning to match original author's updated v0.91 plus adding my 0.02
0.93a (21 Sept 2015) Added hairline line thickness option for Epilog lasers
0.94 (4 Jan 2017) Divider keying options
0.95 (20 Apr 2017) Added optional dimples on tabs
0.96 (24 Apr 2017) Orthogonalized box type, layout, tab style; added rotate-symmetric tabs
0.99 (4 June 2020) Upgraded to support Inkscape v1.0, minor fixes and a tidy up of the parameters dialog layout

About

Inkscape tabbed box generator plugin - quickly design complex "finger jointed" boxes

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