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Stacking Box Baskets

This post is part of a series about my journey making baskets from punctured bicycle inner tubes. To see them all, click here.

Measurements & Goal

My last post ended with my purchase of these lovely kids stacking boxes.

The boxes are all more or less cubes, they’re a tiny bit shorter than they are wide. The sizes are (measurements are along one side):

  • #1 – 5 cm
  • #2 – 6 cm
  • #3 – 7.5 cm
  • #4 – 8.7 cm
  • #5 – 9.5 cm
  • #6 – 11 cm
  • #7 – 12 cm
  • #8 – 13.25 cm
  • #9 – 14.5 cm
  • #10 – 16 cm

#3 is about the same size as the milk carton from my last post, and probably the smallest I’d use to make baskets. #10 is about the same size as the cardboard box I was using before, but with the added benefit of height. So while they won’t let me make anything bigger, these boxes greatly increase the range of things I’m able to make.

And because I get such a variety of widths in, it should hopefully mean I’m able to use up more of the tubes donated to me.

But at this stage my only goal was to experiment. As this was a very playful process, I don’t have much in the way of in making-of photos. Sometimes having to document can be a real barrier for me to create if I’m in a certain mood, so I gave myself permission to just have fun with it.

#10 5×4 Basket

I should probably come up with fancy names, or something besides my personal shorthand to label these baskets, huh? But I can’t think of anything else that works as succinctly to capture the variety possible with all these different forms.

  • #10 stands for the size stacking box I used.
  • 5×4 are the number of tubes in each direction – 5 on each side vertically, and 4 high.

Makes sense, yes?

Here it is:

A few stats:

  • Size: 18 cm on each side, 12.5 cm high.
  • Tubes: There are at least 3 different tubes in this basket (you can tell with the blue stripe and varying widths, 2.5-3.25 cm)
  • Rivets: 28 silver-coloured brass rivets
  • Number of times I had to use my hand press: 58

I didn’t take full advantage of the height here as I was using up some scraps of inner tubes from other projects, but I still love it.

There were so many wonderful bits of character on the tubes I used I just had to show off, scroll down to see some more.


There are some brilliant features on this basket I had to highlight. My favourite bit is the hole where a valve is missing.

You can see a stripes and some writing on that side too.

Some great patches on this basket. Check out my first photo of this one to see another on the lowest horizontal piece under the rivets.

As you can see there’s a bit of warping on some of those skinny tubes on each end – most noticeable on the picture with the valve hole.

It could just be the width compared to the tubes that are going across them, or maybe they were slightly more flexible. It was also still early on in my process and maybe the bands aren’t as even as they perhaps should be – to me that top row is a bit wide compared to the rest of it. That may be more noticeable in person, though.

Traditional Action Shot

There’s something about a basket of this size, I just have to wear it on my head.

Call it a compulsion!


I was really happy with how this turned out. I featured everything I wanted to here. Beyond maybe taking a little more care that the horizontal bands were all the same size, next time I wanted to take advantage of the full high of the forms. And maybe try some other widths of inner tubes to see how the baskets turned out.

#8 3×3 Basket

While my process is generally to cut the wide ones flat for use in products like my wallets and coin samosas, I’d kept a few as tubes for another project. It wasn’t successful, so I tried them here instead. (If you’re curious – cutting a tube into a strip using a spiral to get a much longer length to crochet. It was too grippy to act as yarn.)


  • Size: 15 cm x 14 cm
  • Tubes: Three different tubes, ranging from 3.5-5cm width.
  • Rivets: 31 silver-coloured rivets
  • Hand press presses: 100

Here’s a check of whether or not you’ve been paying attention – did you notice this basket has a huge jump in the amount of times I had to use my hand press?

My previous attempts have all been just over twice the number of rivets. But this basket was made from thinner inner tubes than the previous ones I’d made. To get the rivets as secure as possible, I needed to pad out some of the places they joined with washers.

So instead of just one press for each hole and then one to set the rivet, add two more to create each washer. And these joins have washers front and back.

With a little more forethought I could’ve constructed this differently to avoid some of those washers, but I was happy with the way they looked, and glad to know I could use those wonderful scrap busters in my basket making, too.

(You can read a little more about how I make washers and other ways I use up scraps in this post.)

Details & Lessons

Here are some more angles of this lovely basket.

I also experimented with the number of rivets I used on this basket: with the wider ones I used two at the top of each vertical tube. And went all out with four on each band.

While I didn’t mind the way the top looked, four is way too many in such a concentrated area.

Similar to some of the very experimental baskets from a few posts ago, it only draws attention to slight variations in spacing and placement. Unless they’re incredibly precise, it can just look sloppy.

I have much better uses for 5 cm wide tubes anyway (especially once I get my sewing machine sorted), so it’s no great shame to rule them out for basket making.

Well, unless I was doing something much larger than my current forms.

Action Shot

Hooray for height – this taller basket lives (for now) with my Aloe plant, though it’s been ear marked for one of my brothers in law once I get my act together and make the rest he’s asked for!

#7 5×5 Basket

After my foray into wider tubes, I wondered how the tubes I’d used on my small baskets (milk carton/#3 if you’re keen to use my system) would fare in a larger size.

The answer is that they’re gorgeous.


  • Size: 13 x 12.5 cm
  • Tubes: At least 5, about 2-2.5cm wide
  • Rivets: 30
  • Hand press presses: 66

These were thicker tubes so the only place I used washers was to help secure where my label attaches – they’re on the back of the tube so hidden in the weave.


I always try to make the most of the marks from tubes’ previous lives when making baskets, but it gets so much tougher the more complex the weave.

If you think about each visible section of the weave as a square, there are 100 squares to keep track of on this basket (25 per side). On my previous one there were just 36.

But I still managed to feature a wonderful patch, a white stripe, and some bits of writing.

A Comparison

Videos are the easiest way for me to share how the same kinds of inner tubes behave differently in different sized baskets. Here’s the larger basket. Apologies about the shakiness of the video – I wasn’t using my tripod for these.

The stiffer inner tubes provide a lot of structure to the basket, helping it keep its shape. In comparison, here’s a small sized basket (#3) made with the same kind of tubes.

These tubes were probably a bit narrow for this form – it’s a little gappier than I’d like. But the real issue is that stiffness. It’s adding so much structure it’s warping the shape of the basket, making some areas too rounded. The resulting basket looks a little sloppy.

You can see above where these stiff tubes want to be tubes. The vertical sections near the corners push the horizontal band in, making that middle much rounder than the top and bottom.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love this basket, but I know now to save those stiffer tubes for larger forms.

Moving Forwards

Each basket I make gives me more experience with how best to use this material. As I play around ideas pop into my head on new things to try.

Next week I have a little fun with valves!

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Forms and Process

This post is part of a series about my journey making baskets from punctured bicycle inner tubes. To see them all, click here.

Shaping so far…

If you’ve been reading this series of posts since the beginning, you’ll know I’ve used a few different methods (or non-methods) to help shape my baskets.

My initial woven basket was freehand (and slightly frustrating)

My coiled baskets were also by eye (though sometimes I used other forms to help me get the proportions right).

And on my latest woven ones I used a handy cardboard box.

But those wouldn’t really do long term. As usual, I’d been thinking a lot about it and had some qualities I was looking for.


For my basket forms I wanted…

  • Sturdy forms – they needed to hold up better than the cardboard box.
  • Square bases with higher sides – not that I thought I’d have the same problems as the oblong coiled baskets I made, but square was a more reliable shape. Higher sides meant I had options, and could even make plant pot covers.
  • A variety of sizes – as the inner tubes come to me in a variety of widths, I wanted to make sure I had options and wasn’t just stuck on one or two sizes.
  • Ideally secondhand or repurposed – though I’d consider something new as long as it was well made

I did a lot of searching for metal tins – but had trouble finding anything with the variety of sizes I wanted.

The closest I got were kitchen tin sets – a large bread bin, with smaller ones for tea and sugar, but it wasn’t like the ideal Russian nesting doll in my head so I didn’t pick any up.

In the Meantime, Some Ideas

I always try to think of alternative uses for things before they go into a bin. There is no such thing as “away” when you throw things out. It mostly just remains a problem, just somewhere you can’t see.

Over the warmer months I often make my own yogurt, using a starter I got online and UHT organic milk. While I thankfully have a council that recycles tetrapaks, it occurred to me these flexible containers might be sturdy enough to work with.

And as luck would have it, I had a width of inner tube where three fit perfectly along one side. So I decided to make some little baskets.

While my hand press made things a lot easier, I realised that the mouth of it wasn’t deep enough for me to rivet everything together once woven. So instead I made the bands that would go sit horizontally first, and then wove the vertical sections of the basket around them.

It was easier to make the basket a uniform size, though I’m not sure it was quicker.

I’m determined to make the most of each inner tube’s individual characteristics (writing, patches, etc), so more often than not I assemble most of the basket before taking it apart again to punch and rivet the bands, and then reassemble to finish around the top.

Maybe not quicker, but definitely neater!

Little Basket

Some Stats:

  • Size: 11 cm across, 8.5 cm tall (approx)
  • Time: about an hour (just on construction, not washing or sorting tubes)
  • Weight: 128 grams
  • Inner tubes used: about 1.5
  • Rivets: 14
  • Hand Press Presses: 28

There still were some things to tweak, like taking more care so the little tabs at the top finish at the same place. You can see above that some are shorter than others. Overall though I was very happy.

Tetrapacks weren’t a viable option for the complete size range I wanted from my forms, but for the time being I played around with constructing these and made a series of little baskets.

I discovered that some tiny plant pots and saucers I’d picked up on freecycle months previously fit these perfectly.

Those saucers were essential as the inner tube wouldn’t be water tight. Unless you had fake plants, you’d get your surfaces all wet.

Of course I had to do a little photo shoot with succulents.

More Photos and Process Tweaks

One thing I was really happy with was how my TS logo stamp fit perfectly on this size of tube (about 2.5 cm wide). But I wanted a way to have my full business name on there somehow, too.

I’d seen people use wooden or metal tags on crocheted baskets, so I played around with some inner tube scraps until I came up with something that worked.

I didn’t really like the positioning on this basket, but I learned that I needed to think really carefully about the placement of those tags. As I’m assembling the bands first, I need to check and double check…and given how I still mess this up sometimes, triple check…that the placement of the tag so it’ll end up on the correct side of the basket.

If this label were on the lowest side (where I initially wanted), most of the name would be covered by the vertical sections of the weave!

As you can see in the photo above, I also settled on two rivets holding the horizontal bands together. This was prevent them accidentally bending at that join – though that’s less likely when the basket’s assembled as everything’s pretty snug.

It was also interesting to see how different thicknesses of inner tubes affected the shape and feel of the baskets (though it’s difficult to show in photographs so I’ll save it for a future post).

Larger Basket and Testing

While I kept an eye out for other forms, I took the lessons above and applied them to my larger basket form.

So happy with how this one turned out. I have no stats as it was a while back and I don’t have it to even weigh or measure! More on that in a sec. But as it used my same box, it’s about the same size as my attempts from a few posts back.

My branding looks good on this size, too.

So why don’t I have it? I gave it to Zero Waste on Wheels to test. As I mentioned in an earlier post, she does so many markets, so I knew if it was part of her display it would get some robust testing. Here it is in action.

I still wasn’t set on how I’d be constructing these larger baskets. But while I was still tweaking this larger size’s construction, I thought I’d give it to Alicia anyway. I’m pleased to say it’s held up well!

Lucky Find

But I was limited to how many baskets I could make with those two forms, so I was still on the lookout for something better.

I have a slight addiction to freecycle, olio, and facebook marketplace. It started during lockdowns, when I couldn’t my usual charity shop treasure hunt fix. TBH I hardly ever pick anything up from there, but it was nice to keep my mind working on how I could potentially reuse the random things that people list.

One day I was scrolling through and this caught my eye.

They’re children’s stacking boxes, made out of a sturdier cardboard. The cute designs are just a bonus.

The sizes ranges from 5×5 cm to 16×16 cm. And while I initially thought that was far too small, I realised the shipping box I was using for my larger forms was about 16 cm square. So I picked it up.

While ideally I want to make larger baskets as well, these fit so many of my goal criteria:

  • Sturdier than my shipping boxes
  • Cubes
  • Good range of sizes
  • Secondhand

And for I think £3, they were definitely worth a punt.

But I realise this blog post is already far too long, so what I did with these will have to wait until next week!