I always knew I wanted to make the room out of a shipping crate: it’s a visual that ties in with the story and elements of the puzzles (transportation) and would also save me having to build from scratch (incompatible with my limited budget). I also need a box that would be collapsible. Whilst I’m sure it would make a lovely coffee table, I wasn’t building this box to decorate my home – I needed to be able to easily transport it around London.
To fit these criteria, I was initially going to buy a no nail plywood box from a packaging company. However, I stumbled upon a sturdier shipping crate in a budget furniture warehouse in Brixton. It was the right size, and was half the price of the plywood box I was going to order online, so I took a gamble and took it home with the help of two very bemused staff (pretty sure they thought I was going to use it to hide a body…)
When I finally got home, I realised my enthusiasm for a bargain had backfired: I couldn’t fit the box into my flat. To compound my idiocy, the box was not in fact collapsible, as I had first thought; the corners and base were fixed together by heavy metal staples, the kind that you can’t just pluck out with of a flick of a fingernail.
Luckily, I have a friend who is rather handy with a hammer.
He came round the next day and we spent a wonderfully cold morning smashing the ever-loving shit out of the godforsaken box. We managed to lever away one of the corner joints, taking one of the sides off the box, and then bent the other joints to create a makeshift flat-pack that could be stored.
Huge cracks were left in the parts of wood that had previously been embedded with metal, so I had to fill those, reconstructing the plank with wood filler as if I were restoring an ancient Greek pot. I then sanded everything down, and attached brackets to the detached plank of wood that could be screwed or unscrewed when assembling/disassembling the box. With more time (and more filler) the cracked edges could have been made more polished, but I was happy to ensure everything was sturdy enough and move on. Similarly, the brackets, whilst not being the most attractive solution, did the job that was required.
To finish the box I used masking tape to cut out the lettering, and then spray-painted the box. The lettering was probably the most arduous part, largely because I had to do this finicky task in a pub car-park behind my flat…
All in all, given the limits imposed by time, budget, and my own carpentry abilities, I’m quite pleased with the final product. You can judge for yourself from the completion photos below!