Matchbook box - after

Match box open with matchbooks

Unfinished cigar box - before

When I discovered that my matchbooks fit perfectly into this old unfinished cigar box, I knew it was a DIY matchbox in the making. I wanted to step up the fancy in a subtle way, so I could leave the dingy box out in plain site. I’m all about pretty and practical—and simple—crafts these days. And this matchbox was definitely simple.

Ok, I admit covering each individual matchbook with colored paper is a little bit obsessive, but in my defense, I did that part of this project years ago when I must have had more time on my hands. The match box itself was a breeze. If you don’t want to cut and paste colored paper onto each matchbook—and let’s face it: who does?—you can buy these gloriously pure white matchbooks at

In case you’re wondering, a friend of mine made that little Dutch couple kissing. She gave them to me expecting that I would paint them the traditional blue and white, but I like them plain white. (I know: You’re shocked.) And, yes, that is my bizarre kitchen counter from the 60s. Boomerangs must have been big then.

How to make a doily match box

Supplies and tools

Remove the hardware

1. Remove the hinges and clasp using a small screwdriver. Put all the tiny screws and hardware in a small baggie so you don’t lose them.

sand the cigar box

2. Lightly sand the box and remove the dust.

Apply paint

3. Apply a coat of paint to the outside of the box, and let dry. Apply a coat of paint to the inside of the box, and let dry. Normally I’m a firm believer in using primer, but on bare wood, this Benjamin Moore Aura paint seems to do just as well without primer—and it saves time.

apply glue to doily

4. Place the doily on a sheet of wax paper, and saturate the entire doily with glue. Use your fingers to spread the glue evenly.

Adhere the doily to the box

5. Place the doily onto the top of the box, cover it with a sheet of wax paper, and press down the entire doily, focusing on the edges.

Remove the wax paper

6. Slowly peel off the wax paper. Press down with your fingers any part of the doily that lifts in the process. Let the glue dry overnight.

Paint the box and doily

7. Apply a coat of paint over the doily and the entire outside of the box. Let dry.

Paint the inside of the box

8. Apply the final coat of paint on the insides of the box. Let dry overnight.

Replace the hardware

9. Replace the hardware using the small screwdriver. The key to installing the clasp: Loosely screw in the screws, close the latch, then tighten the screws the rest of the way. Otherwise, your latch may not match up correctly.

Fill with matchbooks

10. Fill with the matches. This match box can hold 80 matchbooks.