Paper Templates for Easy Box Drilling

Version 1.0, September 1999 Copyright 1999 R.G. Keen. All rights reserved. This article served from GEO -


Drilling and cutting effects enclosures is always a tricky business. You have to get the holes in the right place, or the things inside interfere with each other. Drill in the wrong place and you not only have to drill another hole, you have to repair the one you drilled first (or else pretend that you meant to do that for ventilation ;-). It's even worse if you have to mark and drill more than one box and want them to be neat and alike.

The hard part about all this is that  the boxes are not only not flat, they're not square-cornered either. Measuring and marking these things are a pain. Here's a trick to make it a bit easier.

I make myself paper templates of the outside of the box by wrapping a clean sheet of typing paper around the outside and overlapping the paper into the insides. I cut away the corners, mark the edges of the bottom where it wraps around the box, and tape the template into the box. Then, I mark out carefully where the holes are to be drilled on the sheet of paper while it covers the box and center punch where to drill holes.

That doesn't sound too much different from just marking out the layout on the box. The trick is, when I'm through with centerpunching where to drill holes, I remove the sheet of paper before actually drilling. Now if I want a second box, I don't have to do the laborious measuring - I just wrap the paper around the new box, center punch where I did on the first one, and the new box is ready to drill. This has been so useful for me that I decided to start providing templates for the boxes used in GEO projects.

I spent my morning making a template for my favorite, the Hammond 1590BB, then transferring it to Corel Draw, and finally converting it to .PDF format so it can be printed real size from any PDF file reader, like Acrobat. I also added what I hope is helpful hints about how to use the template, and some "paper doll" component sketches. You can cut out the paper doll components and the template and use them to modify the layout to fit your needs.

I will eventually have templates for all the more common FX boxes.

If you're going to use the Hammond 1590BB,

1. Download the template and print it from Acrobat.

2. Cut out the box covering portion, the very fat cross shaped section, with scissors. Also cut out the real-sized cutouts of the parts that you might use.

3. Place the parts cutouts on the template, and arrange the parts so that the parts all go in place and do not interfere with one another. Note that the input/output jacks have two views, and end and a side view. The side views are to place on the central section where you can see if they interfere with other parts. The end views are for placement on the side/end sections. The side and end cutouts must line up with each other, of course.

4. Once you have a layout that you like, get ready to transfer it to the box. Cut out the "Alignment Cutouts" on the center lines of the template. Carefully mark the top of your actual box with its center lines in both direction. This gives us a check on how closely the template fits the actual box.

5. Fold the ends of the template down on the dotted lines as shown. Place the template printed side down, and put the top of the box on it, bottom side up and bottom cover off. The template should wrap into position so the folds are almost exactly at the outside edges of the box. Fold the ends of the four sides of the template into the box and secure them in place with four tabs of scotch tape on the inside of the box.

6. Now check the centering, comparing the centerlines you drew on the box with the printed centerlines on the template. They should be very close. Adjust the placement of the template on the box slightly if you need to.

7. Once the template is taped into place, you can mark the locations to drill for pots, stomp switch, and jacks, using the included guidelines if you like, or choosing your own placement if you like.

8. Center punch the drilling locations with the template in place, then drill. You may drill right through the paper template if you like, or remove it once you are sure that all the holes are properly centerpunched.

That's all there is to it. If you're making more than one box, you can reuse the same template several times before it wears out if you remove it before drilling. 


Here's how I made the template, so you can do the same for a box I may not have made a template for yet.

1. Take your favorite box (mine is the Hammond 1590BB) and remove the bottom cover. Carefully mark centerlines in both directions on the top of the box in pencil.

2. Take a clean sheet of typing paper and wrap it around the box in one direction in a "U" so that it's snug on the top, but has plenty of excess to wrap down into the inside. Roughly cut about 1" above and parallel to the box edges.

3. Unfold the paper and now wrap it around the other two sides of the box, trimming the paper in this direction as well.

4. The paper is now roughly the right size. Unfold it flat and place the box roughly in the center. Holding the box down, mark where the corners of the box are. Cut a rectangle of paper out at each corner to the place where you marked the box corner. The paper will now look like a very fat cross.

4. Refold the paper down into the box in one direction, wrapping it tightly around the box top. Use some masking tape or scotch tape and tape the paper to the inside of the box so that the paper covers the top and the two sides tightly. Do the same with the other two sides. This is why we cut those notches out of the corners - the paper now lies flat and tight on the top and all four edges of the open bottom.

5. On the edges where the paper folds over the box edge, rub the side of a pencil on the paper to transfer the box edge to the paper. Also, carefully mark the centerlines in each direction on the paper-covered top of the box.

6. Peel up the tape and remove the paper from the box. Punch or cut some small holes in the paper on the centerlines. With that done, you can now reposition the paper very closely on the box.

7. Carefully measure the placement of parts for the inside of the box, and mark them on the paper wrapper. Once your marking is complete, you can remove the tape and paper template. The template can be used to mark several identical boxes.