How to Make Cheap Model Horse Holders from Index Cards

How to Make Cheap Model Horse Holders from Index Cards
Index Card Model Horse Holders, gogogo!

Index Card Model Horse Holders, gogogo!

Every so often I get the urge to be crafty and make storage containers for the various things on my art desk. I’ve made craft paint storage and tool/brush caddies and a stab at Stablemate shelving before… but I needed something better to hold my models-in-progress.

Thankfully my workbench hoarding tendencies are great for providing random supplies to build things! So I grabbed some index cards, white glue, scissors/X-acto knife, and a ruler and got to work making some WiP stalls.

Supply List

So many index cards!

  • White glue
  • Ruler
  • X-acto Knife or Scissors
  • 15 3×5 Index cards (1 bottom (flat), 8 stall walls (folded in a U), 1 back folded, 1 cut and folded front, 2 folded sides, 2 cut square sides, and one extra unused flat piece just because)

Making Plans… and then Adlibbing

Index Card Storage Box - Grand Plans
Measuring out the Ponies

I didn’t start out with the plan to use the Index Cards as the primary building materials for this. I was actually thinking of using some of the card stock piles left over from learning how to make paper gift boxes. But after some measuring it turned out that the cards were going to be the perfect size and why waste time cutting paper?

I based my designs around the Safari Ltd. TOOB Ponies, since those are what’s cluttering up my art desk at the moment. The holders should also work find for the Stablemate foals and Micro Minis, which are the next in the pile. The adult Stablemates sit just fine on top of the craft paint boxes, so no worries about them… for now.

Index Card Storage Box - Checking the TOOB Fit
One ruler to rule them all…

One of the tricks I learned while making the gift boxes was that my metal ruler is roughly an inch wide. This makes it great for using to fold things and I lucked out because the TOOB ponies fit inside perfectly!

So step one was to fold four index cards around the ruler so the sides were more or less even. I eyeballed this because the ponies aren’t very tall and I figured I could trim the walls down to match.

When I did the next three boxes, I made sure to make the walls even. (It looks much better that way.) The folds should be 2 inches in from the sides. I used the left over material from the side reinforcement to measure, since those are 2 inches wide.

Index Card Storage Box - Bottom Index Card
Let the barn raising begin!

The best part about using the index cards is that they are all a uniform size so they end up being a bit like Legos– everything fits! πŸ™‚

To start assembling the bottom I inset the first ‘stall’ a little bit from the edge. On the first one I only glued the bottom of the stall to the base index card and did the walls later… but the rest of the boxes I glued both the bottom and the wall to the previous stall. It made it a lot easier to glue the walls together if I didn’t wait.

You want to use a very thin layer of glue here so that the cards don’t warp from the moisture.

My gluing technique was just finger painting, but you could use a brush or even a glue stick. I tend to embrace my inner kindergartner when I make things like this, but you might want to be a little less messy! πŸ˜‰

Index Card Storage Box - Walls
Index Card Storage Box – Walls

This is a good example photo on how I folded the walls down as I went. Again, it’s much easier to glue the bottom and the right wall as you place each stall instead of coming back later. You can see that the walls don’t quite match up here. The original plan was to trim them at this point, but they didn’t look horrible so I didn’t bother.

Fold up the edges of the bottom index card and glue to the sides of the walls.

At this point you need to straighten the walls upright and let things sit for a bit to dry. We’re going to building the back of the stalls next, which means just about everything will get covered in glue again. Dampness is not our friend.

Index Card Storage Box - Back
Index Card Storage Box – Back

The back of the stalls are the same as the base, four more folded index cards using the same method as before. They will be a little wide, which will help put some pressure on the existing walls and keep everything square. Ish.

These are a little trickier to glue in. You need to put the glue on the walls that already exist, not the index card you are adding, otherwise everything smears. I used a pencil to rough out how far in to put the glue, but it won’t matter if you go in too far– the glue dries clear and won’t affect your horses unless you live in an incredibly humid area.

I went through and made sure that the lined side of the index cards were facing out, just so I’d have the nice clean white inside. You can also line the insides of the stall once it’s done, if you are worried about the glue or want it to look a little cleaner.

Same song, second verse...
Same song, second verse…

Once the back walls are in… let it dry again.

If you want to, you can actually stop at this point. The Stablemate and TOOB horses are very light and the box will be pretty sturdy. If you aren’t going to pick it up much there’s no reason to do the front wall and reinforcing that comes next. It will keep the horses from falling over and playing dominoes and maybe that’s all you need. πŸ™‚

I’m planning on using these as carrying cases (of sorts) between the shelves and the workbench, so I will be picking them up and moving them around a lot.

So… onwards!

Index Card Storage Box - Front Wrap
Good Enough for Government Work

The first piece of reinforcement I did was on the back of the box. This serves sort of the same function as the bottom index card, as it glues the backs of the upright pieces together.

You want to fold the index card so that it comes up the back the same height as the side walls. So the fold would be either 2 inches or 1 inch from the top. For the index cards I am using, this came to the second blue line from the top of the card.

While mostly cosmetic, this also makes sure that the flap you attach to the bottom of the box is long enough to give some proper support. You’ll need to cut the sides of the card so that the bottom flap folds up over the vertical, nice and neat.

This piece also does the job of filling in the small gaps between the two sets of walls. The chances that anything could get caught in the opening is tiny, but some of those Mini Whinnies have tiny legs!

Index Card Storage Box - Rounded Corners
When is a door not a door?

The next bit of reinforcing was for the front. Since I’m going to be moving these around, I wanted to add a ledge/wall on the front to keep them from tipping out.

I wanted a 1 inch wall so I cut at the fourth blue line from the top and folded it at the red line. If you want to make the walls higher, you can use the entire card. I just wanted to be able to see them looking out over the stall doors– because reasons. *pats horses*

Attach similarly to the back, cutting and folding the flaps so they overlap.

The leftover strip should be roughly 1.5 inches wide. I added this to the middle of the bottom, between the front and back flaps, folding the edges up and gluing them to the sides. You could also just trim it to fit, if you’d prefer. We’re going to add more reinforcement to the bottom when we do the sides, so this was just to make things look pretty.

Now it’s time to reinforce the ends! πŸ™‚

Index Card Storage Box - End Buffing
Doubling the walls

We’ll need two parts, an outside and an inside. The outside piece is an index card folded to the height of the walls (3 inches). The inside piece is the same height as the walls and is a square (3×3).

The fun bit is that this is also the size of a Post-it note, which I used to label what is currently in the boxes! Just a happy coincidence, as I didn’t even think of using them for labels until later.

The easiest way to get the right positioning for the cut and the folds are to use the index cards to measure against themselves as shown in the picture.

Index Card Storage Box - Rounded Corners
Death to the pointy bits!

I glued the outside folded pieces on first, starting with the side and then after that dried gluing it to to the bottom. It was much easier to attach the inside squares when I could lay the whole thing flat and the folded piece made the sides a little sturdier to work with.

I got annoyed by being poked by the corners of the inside walls while working on this step, so I took a break in the middle to round them off.

This is 100% decorative, so you can skip this if you like. Cutting the corners didn’t affect the overall strength of the box (as far as I noticed) and I did this with the other three right after I glued the backs in.

Index Card Storage Box - Stablemate and Mini Whinnie Test Fit
Stablemate and Mini Whinnies Invade!

Not too shabby for something made of 15 index cards, eh? πŸ˜‰


Once the first box was assembled I did a quick test fit with the Stablemates and Mini Whinnies. I skimped on the planning stage and didn’t measure them at all… so this could have turned out badly. Thankfully it didn’t!

I don’t think this would be useful for any of the adult Stablemates, but it may actually work with some of the shorter ones (Highland Pony, Saddlebred, etc.). I’ll have to try it out once I have some and update the post. *makes note*

Index Card Storage Box - CD Tower
A perfect fit!

I use a CD Tower to store a bunch of my art supplies and bodies, since it’s roughly one Stablemate deep. These boxes fit neatly three across and I put together a quick cardboard shelf so I could sneak in two layers. I need to make another two boxes still, but it’s not a bad start! πŸ™‚

I have Post-it notes on them now, so I know which box to grab when I’m ready to work on one of the TOOB Ponies. No muss, no fuss!

You could get fancy and cover the boxes with paper and use that to color code which horses go where, or you could decorate them so they looked like stables and use them for shelf display (if folks bump your shelves a lot). The possibilities are endless! …Well, not really, but there are a lot them. πŸ˜‰

If you try to make these, come share the pictures here or on the Facebook page. I love seeing what other folks come up with!

Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

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