Masu Module Drawers

Apr - 25 2017 | By

I love small things. Looking at origami furniture models, I thought how fun it would be to assemble a paper suite for Borrowers. But out of all the chest-of-drawers type models available, I found none that I really wanted to fold. Either they were fussily complex, or not proportioned right.

So I took paper in hand and started experimenting. This is what I came up with. Based on the traditional masu box, it works and looks pretty cool. I’ve constructed three so far, and I’m sure there are some variations that will be lots of fun to discover.

For the shelf units, start with a square of paper folded for a masu. You need to know how to do that anyway. 😉
shelf unit base

Fold two of the triangular sides back. The points are going to remain outside the box.
fold sides back

Fold the front flap inward. This leaves the front open, and creates side pockets that will receive the pointy tabs of another unit.
fold the front flap in

Fold the rear point down, because we don’t want it getting in the way of the drawer!
fold point down

Collapse the back in as you would a normal masu. A little glue here is good, because you can’t get back in there handily after the whole thing is assembled.
close the back

Here are some finished shelf units.
shelf units

Now for the drawers. They need to be a little smaller so they slide well. Exactly how much smaller depends on the paper. Using heavy paper for the shelf units gives greater solidity, but it also fattens the sides, leaving less room inside. You will have to do a test fold to see exactly how much smaller your paper should be. It could be cut smaller, but I prefer to fudge-fold it so I can use the same size sheets for all parts. The fudge-fold also strengthens the drawer and helps make a nice pull.

Before finishing a drawer, you might want to test your fudge. This is also useful in making covered boxes.
fudge test

Fudge folds are done on the backside of two-color paper. They must be straight and even. If your fudge is sweet, the paper will still be perfectly square 🙂
fudge folds

Anyway, on with the folding. Do the same old masu folds, with the fudge-folds inward. Then open it up and find the point where the fudge-folds meet. Fold it up so that the double fudge triangle peeks over the edge.
front point

Now fold the point over the edge to make a nice drawer-pull.
fold point over

Bring the front and back up, ready to fold in the sides. You can fold the side and back points under first; if your Borrowers are neat-freaks they’ll appreciate this. We’re doing the collapse-in on the sides because 1. the front flap is altered and 2. it makes the sides of the drawers stronger.
ready to bring it together

Finished drawers

Putting it all together!

Now, put the loose flaps into the pockets. Put a dab of glue in the pockets first, and make sure all sides are aligned and tight together before clamping.
tab A, slot B

There’s nothing like a bunch of cheap made-in-China hair clips for origami clamping.
glue clamps

When it’s all solid, in go the drawers.
all done

Note that the top unit has its “ears” folded in. Even if you forget to do it while folding, they should tuck in fairly easily…usually with a little help from a paper creaser and a sharp knife point. I always forget. :p

The bottom shelf unit can be folded differently to give it a more polished appearance. It doesn’t need the gozintas anyway.
bottom unit

Fold it down onto the underside. The side flaps will cover the odd bits, and lock it in place.

If you don’t want an open space in the bottom, you can simply make a base with all four sides by not folding the front side in, or maybe do something creative with a menko or modified Sonobe unit or whateverg. It has to have something under the bottom drawer, but it doesn’t have to be a space to chuck shoes in.

Number of drawers is up to you too, of course. The ceiling’s the limit. It should also be pretty easy to side-connect two or three sets for a wide storage unit. I can imagine two linked by a flat piece for a desk or vanity. That kind of flexibility was one of my requirements for this project.