Craft Organizing: Cigar Boxes

I love having my own little studio, but it’s quite chaotic most of the time because of all of the stuff I tend to hoard. Vintage hardware, old cigar labels, broken jewelry parts, and all kinds of pieces and parts I pick up at flea markets and thrift stores that I know I can find a use for one day in a craft project. But storing supplies in plastic bins out in the open isn’t too attractive, aesthetically speaking. I have plenty of plastic storage, but those are tucked away in my cupboards. And since vintage cigar boxes tend to have such beautiful graphics, I can hardly resist organizing with them.My hook on storing with vintage cigar boxes came the day I found and clipped out an image from a magazine of a large parts cabinet crafted to hold around 36 same size cigar boxes, acting as drawers. It was a bit like this fabulous one, below, that I found for sale on Etsy, but on a much larger scale.
Thinking I could create my own folk art organizing cabinet, I started collecting cigar boxes over the years to make a cool storage piece. However, finding same-size cigar boxes in quantity is not as easy as you might think, at least not at a price I can afford. So, for now, I’m settling for simply stacking my mismatched boxes, and had begun adhering vintage gummed labels to the fronts to mark the contents of the boxes.

However, the problem with stacking the boxes is that it’s really a pain to get to a box near the bottom, pulling it out with both hands while keeping the rest of the stack from toppling.

Enter: Label Holder Hardware with Pulls. The perfect solution. And with months and months of patience, I finally scored a wonderful box of gorgeous vintage holder/pulls from a kind gentleman on ebay.He mentioned after the sale that they had belonged to his father. I love stuff like that, don’t you? I mean, if you have to sell something that belonged to your dad, wouldn’t you want to know that it was going to good use rather than off to be sold and resold? Anyway, the quality of this beautiful old hardware is beyond anything I could’ve found new and with the pay-off of patience, I finally found it at a really low price. I was able to locate the tiny 1/4″ screws needed on ebay as well.Screwing in the hardware was seriously giving me a blister, so my husband loaned me his drill to create starter holes. That made the process so much easier and faster.I’m now in the process of filling the boxes and labeling each. And when I need something from the bottom of the stack, it’s so much easier to access.Here is a great source for similar hardware, Craft Inc. who sells on ebay or in their online store.Other solutions for adding pulls to stacking boxes is to tape a loop of ribbon to the inside of each box lid with the loop protruding out of the box just enough to grasp. The ribbon also helps with opening the lid as many box lids fit very snug.I found many of my newer cigar boxes at a smoke shop downtown. They set out their empties when they have them and I make a stack and make an offer. I also find them at the flea market. I don’t like to pay more than $5 a box, but if it’s vintage, in good condition and simply gorgeous, like these, below, that I found on Etsy, I don’t mind paying more.When searching Etsy, look under the vintage and supplies categories. On ebay, you can often find cigar boxes sold in quantity by searching using the term lot. Or, you can drive to Galena, Illinois to the antique shop that’s selling this awesome pile!Antique shop cigar boxes photo courtesy of Todd Klassy on Flickr.

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72 Responses to Craft Organizing: Cigar Boxes

  1. #1 - Paper Squid says:

    This is a really great idea. I've also always loved the designs and typography of cigar boxes and this could look nice in many places. :)
    (Hmm I didn't know some shops sold their empty boxes! Great to know).
    Thanks.

  2. #2 - gewoon gezellig says:

    I like it!
    I made something today, and i did that because of you…you made it earlier.
    I've posted with a link at your blog!
    Hope you don't mind i stole your idea…
    Sorry for my really bad englisch!!
    Greetings from Holland, Hilde

  3. #3 - lesthook says:

    I have a lot of boxes from a time when I thought I was going to make purses out of them. I have since realized that sewing and quilting are my main loves. Now I know what to do with them!

  4. #4 - Sandra says:

    Wow, this is so cool! I've been looking for some label pulls just like that.

  5. #5 - amy says:

    What a cool way to organize your little ditties! Love it! Dreaming about it…

  6. #6 - Spacejams Vintage says:

    how cool!! i love love love the ides+)

  7. #7 - EmandaJ says:

    Cathe, you are such a clever gal! I love cigar boxes too. And it helps to know a fellow who smoke a lot of cigars (NOT in my house, fortunately). Cultivate that type of friendship and you will have more cigar boxes than you will know what to do with.

    Emanda

  8. #8 - Lululiz says:

    Fabulous storage, so colourful! I'd love to do the same thing, but I haven't seen a cigar box at a car boot sale in years.

  9. #9 - mama leanne says:

    Cathe,
    Very cool! I love that my Ybor boxes found a home with such an creative spirit. I gave my youngest son the remaining box because he is starting a collection. I know he loved the amazing graphics as well. The use of hardware and labeling make for a wonderful repurpose.
    Leanne

  10. #10 - Katsui Jewelry says:

    Really cool…you are such a gift to all of us!

    Suz

  11. #11 - Joyce says:

    very cool! i used to wonder who buys the cigar boxes the local smoke shop puts out…they are $3 each around here :)

  12. #12 - Lori E says:

    Just think of all the fun stuff that has been stored in old cigar boxes. Love letters, money, photographs, special rocks.

  13. #13 - Lori E says:

    Just think of all the fun stuff that has been stored in old cigar boxes. Love letters, money, photographs, special rocks.

  14. #14 - Monkey's Momma says:

    That is seriously awesome! Thanks for such an interesting post!

  15. #15 - MosaicMagpie says:

    So neat! I knew they were great to store stuff in but that little set made like drawers that's neat!
    Debbie

  16. #16 - Sharon says:

    Another FABULOUS idea. You are going to need a bigger house or craft barn???

  17. #17 - MommaMindy says:

    You always amaze me. Your brain is SO blessed. Thank you for being so generous with your gifting, sharing your ideas and abilities. Even if I am not going to make very many things, I love just soaking in your inspiration and creativity. It revives my creative spirit.

  18. #18 - Diane@inMyOwnStyle says:

    hi Cathe-
    I think this is the coolest, neatest, most fabulous re-use of cigar boxes I have ever seen. The drawer pulls with the labels really make your wall of storage look so organized and unique. I bet you just enjoy staring at them – it is a work of art. You always have the best ideas.
    Diane

  19. #19 - Sam says:

    I collect cigar boxes, too. My son recently added about 30 wooden boxes and 30 paper boxes to my stack. As I'm packing to move I keep thinking, do I want to pay to ship 100 of these? Your pulls made up my mind. I appreciate the cohesion the brass with white gives the installation. thanks again for sharing your vision.

  20. #20 - laurie -magpie ethel says:

    Super cool as usual. I also store all my little vintage doo-dads in the studio in old cigar boxes (with cute labels) BUT I LOVE the pulls…I know I have some in my stash and need to hunt them down. Great idea.

  21. #21 - marysworkshop says:

    Your studio looks even more cheerful and inviting with your new nifty cigar boxes and their beautiful old hardware and labels. Thank you so much for sharing your creative ideas with us!

  22. #22 - Mr.Cigar says:

    I have to tell you that this is one of the best ideas that I have ever seen for cigar boxes. I am a seasoned cigar smoker and have tons of boxes. Guess what I'm gonna with some of them? Congrats on the creativity.

  23. #23 - Connie Eyberg Originals says:

    Cigar boxes do have great graphics. What you have done with them is not only great storage, it adds such personality. I am in total agreement about the plastic containers. Regards, Connie

  24. #24 - glam.spoon says:

    that's fantastic! love all the colors…

  25. #25 - Champagne/StitchPoet says:

    I sure hope I can find the time to pull this off this summer! Something needs to get me organized! And it would be great if that something was stackable! LOVE THIS

  26. #26 - Teresa says:

    They look awesome all together. I imagine the old tobacconist shops looking like this 100 years ago.

  27. #27 - 32˙North says:

    They look SO good! I'd have a field day stacking and re-stacking. I love doing that kind of stuff!

  28. #28 - Shelly says:

    Great idea! Your cigar boxes look terrific with their new hardware. I really like that folk art storage unit too.

  29. #29 - Angela says:

    They look great stacked like that and the label pulls are the perfect look!!

  30. #30 - . says:

    That is such a great idea, and its unique (no storage unit will look like the next). I have a few and didn't know where to put them, until now : ) I got them for free, some stores have a basket where they throw them in to and you can pick them up.

    My other favourite storage boxes is the wood wine boxes (how they ship wine around in), some of them are made of really neat kinds of wood (pear, apple, oak and other).

  31. #31 - farmwife says:

    You rock, once again! I've been hording them as well but could never figure out what to do with them and now you've shared a great idea! Thank you so much, K

  32. #32 - Gaby Bee says:

    WOW, that's a fabulous idea! A really cool way to organize some stuff. You rock! Glad I found your Blog through a comment somewhere… Gaby xo

  33. #33 - Janie Husband says:

    oh what a great idea……….something to do with my cigar boxes….great blog, by the way…

  34. #34 - Vicki O'Dell says:

    Just found your blog again (I had lost you somehow!) via the Craftzine site. Turns out I've been following you on twitter for a while! Der!
    Madly in love with practically everything you do!
    Vicki

  35. #35 - CraftCrave says:

    Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [17 May 02:00pm GMT]. Thanks, Maria

  36. #36 - stella says:

    Thanks for this great idea! Right now I only have one cigar box. A gorgeous Romeo and Juliette box. I'll have to have my bf find me more….heck he'd probably want to make it too!

  37. #37 - DinDin says:

    I used to throw away these boxes since I just cannot get rip of the aweful cigar smell! Anyone has tips on that so next time I can use them for storage?

  38. #38 - Mitzi Curi says:

    Cathe, I love your organized and labeled cigar boxes! I wish I hadn't sold the three dozen cigar boxes I got at an auction for mere pennies. I sold them for $3.00 each and still made a profit. Maybe someday I'll come across some more. Then, I'll use your great system for getting organized!

  39. #39 - Λαμπρινή says:

    What could anyone say?
    Whatever you do, it's just perfect!!!
    I am fan fan fan fan!!!!

  40. #40 - Megan (Best of Fates) says:

    I've had stacks of cigar boxes that were my grandma's sitting in my basement forever as I waited to figure out what to do with them, and now here's this brilliant idea – I LOVE it!

  41. #41 - Jamara @ My NW Nest says:

    I'm passing along the Versatile Blogger Award to you. I hope you'll stop by my blog & find out what it's all about. You're an inspiration & I love what you do!

    ~Jamara at My Northwest Nest

  42. #42 - Creative Grammie says:

    I love your cigar box storage idea Cathe! It's so vintage. What a cool idea. Thanks for sharing.
    By the way I know what you mean about hoarding, it happens before we know! LOL

  43. #43 - Connie Eyberg Originals says:

    Cathe, thank you for letting me share a couple of your photos with my readers. I hope you will check it out on my 'studio solutions' blog!

  44. #44 - Mod Podge Amy says:

    Yay Cathe! :D

  45. #45 - Rebecca says:

    This is a wonderful idea! I write a column for the Examiner.com about crafting on a budget. I feature "trash to treasure" ideas and would love to share this. Would you mind? I would just like to have your permission to use your photo of the finished project and will credit it to you and link back to your blog. I think my readers will love this idea! Please let me know. Thanks!

  46. #46 - Crystal says:

    You will die when I tell you this, but my grandmother, kept all her business receipts in cigar boxes. When my grandparents passed away a few years ago, we went through them for anything important and BURNED the cigar boxes. Of course this was before I was thinking of anything vintage.

  47. #47 - Jennifer says:

    Love, Love, Love, Thamks for sharing

  48. #48 - Marsha's Mpressions says:

    WOW! That's what I say! Love your collection and how you've made them so practical.

  49. #49 - Kathie says:

    Cathe, you never cease to inspire me. Made myself a hard-covered spiral bound notebook the other day and this post got me thinking about the remodel on my studio… and the fact that a niece works at a smoke shop! turns out she will collect cigar boxes for me! Yay! Thank you Thank you,
    Kathie (with an "ie")

  50. #50 - Candice says:

    I loved this idea so much I posted about it in my blog.

  51. #51 - Jane says:

    I love this idea! Our local cigar store literally gives their boxes away. Now I have an excuse to take more than one!

  52. #52 - Suzanne says:

    Simply beautiful – I love them and wish I could have them in my studio – I am in need of some good organisation! Wonderful idea thanks.

  53. #53 - Palimpsest says:

    Wonderful, visually and creatively wonderful! Such a great idea.

  54. #54 - Gayle says:

    Can I just say that you are a genius and I absolutely love everything you do…PLUS, your generosity is a blessing to us all!!!

  55. #55 - Laura (@Curry_Kay) says:

    This is amazing! So so gorgeous. I'm so glad I found your blog. It's definitely going to be a constant read for me now!

  56. #56 - Victorian Lady says:

    So beautiful! :)

    Mere

  57. #57 - Secret Leaves says:

    Your posts are full of such great ideas and you are so generous about sharing them. Thank you for that.

  58. #58 - Silvia says:

    great idea. i have a bunch of cigar boxes and i've been using them for storage, but the addition of the labels is superb. Love it. thanks.

  59. #59 - Andy @ Woodclinched says:

    This is such a simple and brilliant idea! Ever since you posted this, I’ve been working to find those little library pulls. Finally I found an eBay store that specializes in crafting and archival supplies.

    I’ve been amassing cigar boxes for years — we have a large tobacco shop near us that sells beautiful cigar boxes for 25¢. I am a pencil blogger and collector, and I discovered that cigar boxes are a great way to sort and store my collection of hundreds of wooden pencils.

    One question: I would love to know who you got your tiny screws from on eBay. I cannot find screws that don’t protrude into the inside of the box. That has kept me from converting all of my cigar boxes over.

    Thanks again for this blog. I love your style and your ingenuity!

    • #60 - Cathe Holden says:

      Hi Andy,

      Keep looking for those pulls daily on eBay, they will show up. I just scored dozens at a great low price recently by being diligent.

      The tiny screws do protrude just slightly into my boxes, but if you have a Dremel tool, that’s the perfect solution to taking off those sharp tips.

      Your blog is really fun, who’d a thought? Pencils! Cigar boxes are the perfect storage. Until you find your hardware, loops of ribbon tacked just inside the lid help with pulling boxes from the stack.

      Thanks for your comment and I hope you’ll be back often.

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  63. #61 - Libby Pyle says:

    Love it! It’s my next project. This year for Christmas my dad made us cigar box lamps. AWESOME–your storage idea will be the icing on the cake.

  64. #62 - Claudia says:

    Thanks for sharing your storage idea. I have been collecting cigar boxes and didn’t know what to do with them. The cigar shop where I used to live gaves them away, so the price was right. The vintage label pulls are ideal.

  65. #63 - jamileena says:

    Lovely, just lovely! I buy cigar boxes from the shop down the street & all are priced at $3-4. Ive been buying a few here and there and decorating them inside and out. But storage is my goal right now and this idea is the best. Id love to make a little shelf with same sized boxes – the guy down the street will have piles of matching boxes on his table. I should find or make a little shelf first.. . . thanks for the new project inspiration!!

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  67. What a great idea. I have an old wooden cigar box that I want to repurpose somehow. This gives me some design ideas to start from. Thanks!

  68. #65 - Cipriano Vigil says:

    I work with children in schools teaching themto build cigar box guitars. I am in dire need of between 150 to 200 boxes for this project. Since schools don’t have the funding it is hard to continue this project.

    Can you donate these boxes so the students can continue their project? I can send you copies of pictures of children that have done these guitars so you can see what we do, if you wish.

    I can also write you a donation receipt for tax purposes if you want.

    Thank You So Much,

    Cipriano Vigil
    State Road 110 #41
    El Rito, NM 87530
    575 581 4520
    cipriano505@windstream.net

  69. #66 - kayleen hutton says:

    i have a few collectable boxes that i am trying to find out the value of how do igo about it?

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  71. #68 - Barbara Critchell says:

    love your ideas and I love cigar boxes. thank you!