Diy · Home Goods

Cardboard Side Table

I had a bunch of boxes. I wanted a side table to put next to the chair in my son’s room with a shelf for his books, a drawer for toys and a space on top to put my water bottle.

Cardboard is great, but it’s really quite flimsy. So after taking a look at the techniques used by Mr. DIY on Youtube, I realized it’s better to build with a double layer of cardboard. By the end, I was scrounging for any bits and pieces left to reinforce the sides, but it all worked out. Just be aware that you need more cardboard than you think.

Level of difficulty: medium

Time needed: a few hours

Supplies needed:

  • Lots of cardboard
  • Box cutter
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Hot glue
  • Optional: box decorating supplies like paint or markers.
1. Assess your needs.

In the picture you can see the yellow box that acts as a drawer. This, along with the height for the tallest books are what I based my measurements on. If you also have a specific purpose for your shelf, measure what you need. Otherwise you can use the standard measurements for any furniture item here.

2. Measure and cut the cardboard.

I used the biggest pieces of cardboard for the outside shell, and cut smaller pieces to glue inside as I went. Find something long and straight (a meter stick would work but not everyone has that) to use for measuring and drawing lines to cut on. Carefully score the cardboard on the line drawn, then go over again with the knife to get the rest of the way though.

3. Glue it together.

There are probably better glue options out there, but I only had hot glue so that’s what I used. It also means that you have to work quickly though before it cools off. I tried to make an X in the middle of the box before squeezing the glue around the edges. It hasn’t fallen apart so far and it seems pretty sturdy!

4. Decorate and enjoy!

This was a box from a diaper subscription service with some cute designs already so I decided to cover the barcode with a marker and add more decorations to the other parts of the box using a sharpie and a yellow paint pen. Sure, It still looks like a cardboard box, but it is functional and I like it!

I am not a scientist and frequently get so excited about my projects that I don’t think through the process. The one complaint about this particular project is that the weight of the books is causing it to sag a bit. Also, it is not waterproof so if something spills, the cardboard will not last long. However, this shelf was pretty successful overall!

Have you created anything new from old cardboard boxes?


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