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Building a Zippo Lighter collection box

We all know the Zippo lighter don’t we? The famous wind-proof lighter with a lifetime guarantee has always been collectible. But then DeAgostini took that to another level when they partnered with Zippo for their famed magazine series. Many subscribed and bought a magazine per week which contained a limited edition Zippo lighter. We didn’t but fortunately we found someone on Ebay who did and was selling his cherished, unopened and complete collection. zippos uk

Our plan was to give this collection a new lease of life. Repurpose and old or vintage container which could store, display and protect these items long into the future.

We already had a couple of our own Zippo lighter designs, but within this collection of 100 there were some real gems. Manchester United fan Jonathan obviously liked the football one, and there seemed to be some really classy designs in the earlier half of the series, but we were slightly less impressed with the design of some of the later ones. Jonathan cynically mentioned it was like they were running out of ideas towards the end of the series. But irrespective, as a collection it’s super impactful and stunningly impressive.

Finding the right Zippo lighter container

We have a whole host of vintage and antique centres very near to us, so we were confident we could find something to do the collection justice. First and our close neighbours was the treasure trove that is Northwich Antiques Centre. Located over several floors, it could have been the ideal place to find something… perhaps we were a little overwhelmed with choice though and left empty handed this time, heading instead to Blakemere Craft Centre. Just round the corner, don’t let the name mislead you, there are tons of old antiques and collectables here too. The Design Shed, one of the many businesses operating out of there almost came up trumps for us. They had some old but already upcycled industrial looking drawers that caught our eye. In the end we though them too big for this particular project. So we decided to keep looking.

Just down the road from there is Reclaimed World in Tarporley. It was our first visit there but certainly won’t be our last. What a place. Sadly we didn’t find what we were looking for there either but all was not lost.

Next stop was Lady Heyes Craft and Antiques Centre on the way towards Frodsham. They have around 4 different little antiques places so we were feeling optimistic. And here we fell lucky! Boffey’s Emporium were voted one of the top 5 antiques centres in the area recently by the Warrington Guardian, and they didn’t let us down. We found an old box which needed a little work to restore it to it’s former glory but which would be just the right size with two layers allowing us to house 50 of the lighters on the bottom later, and 50 on the top.

Restoring the box.

Maybe less of a resto project and more a total re-vamp. The box was looking sturdy but old and tired, so we started with removing all the tatty old felt from it then giving it a total sand down. We removed all the hadware which we replaced cheaply with some new pieces we found online. And we did some patching up where we lost a foot from the box during sanding, and where a panel was coming away slightly. Just repairing it cleanly and securely to make it last for a long time to come. zippos uk

Our trusty local B & Q was the place to head for the dark oak stain we wanted for the finish. Once applied we were really happy with it. So next we took the stained and dried box to local business Store 101 to get it really pimped up. We knew we wanted the design to be in gold to match the hardware we’d bought for it, but we were unsure if a vinyl sticker would work or if we’d need to have a stencil made and spray it in gold, so taking the box with us was key. As always they were great and furnished us with a great gold vinyl sticker set that we’d designed incorporating our logo along with the Zippo and DeAgostini logos and mentioning the collection details.

The gold vinyl and hardware really sets off the finish of our Zippo lighter box

Next we added a small length of ribbon, just to hold the lid up and stop it falling back when opened. We got this from the local sewing shop Sew Easy who were super helpful.

The foam to store the lighters.

Our original plan was to use a thin layer of foam in the top of the box so we slit down a thicker piece for this purpose. But in the end as the tray insert stood proud of the base of the box it left no room for foam in the lid, so we had a re-think and decided to felt the lid instead and just use the foam in the tray and base of the box.

Because we were cutting in so many of the same identical shape (ie the Zippo lighter with a thumb or finger pull for getting it in or out) then it made sense to use a template. This we did, producing sheets of a scale template printed onto paper that we could just cut through as we went along. We kept nice even 8 – 8.5mm spacing between each item which was easy to do accurately with the paper template. zippos uk

For once, Jonathan was actually fairly apprehensive doing this as there were 50 slots per sheet to cut, so having done all the hard work he couldn’t help but worry about messing up towards the end. He didn’t. But there was a bit of added pressure to the process while he was cutting and peeling the holes. But once he’d finished and loaded up the first tray with its contents, he was more convinced than ever that this was a great solution for storing and displaying a collection like this.

The template for the base layer was slightly different than the top tray as it was slightly bigger so we had bigger spacing on it between each Zippo lighter, but again the template made it nice and easy to cut.

Finishing touches

All that remained now was to felt the box lid now that there’d be no room for foam in there. We went on a hunt for some black felt and ended up with red, but as it worked out this really complimented the box nicely. It wasn’t the easiest to work with, cutting it as neatly as we wanted was really tough. But with a little time and patience we managed to get a great finish with it. So take a look at the final box and let us know what you think! zippos uk

the complete DeAgostini Zippos UK collection presented in all it’s glory

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