How to make a cardboard furniture



first of all I apologize for my odd english, my native tongue is not english but french.


I'm currently making a basic cardboard furniture, so I will try to explain how I'm doing it.




You need 3 identical corrugated cardboard sheets, mine are 70cm x 60cm, at least they must be double layered like :

The 3 sheets are :

  • The frontage
  • The inner
  • The back

They will be the 3 layers of your furniture, you can think of it as a 3D volume made by the extrusion of a 2D drawing.

1. Draw the outlines of your furniture on the first sheet like on the example 



2. Then cut it with a cutter...

3. Repeat 1 & 2 to make the inner (put the frontage over the second sheet to draw its outlines).

4. Put the frontage over the third sheet and report on it the outer outlines (if there are any, on my example there's no outer outlines so the back is simply the unchanged sheet!) and cut it as needed.

here is an example where the back needs some cutting (taken from http://camillecarton.free.fr the best french site about cardboard furniture making) :

(Fond = back, intermédiaire = inner, Façade = frontage)

5. Now you must make up your mind and find where you need to put cross-pieces to put the 3 profiles sheets.

You must use the inner profile as it is the one where you will encase the cross-pieces. On each place where you want to put a cross-piece, you must cut on the inner profile a notch where it will encase.


here is a cross-piece :

(Note that cross-pieces width will correspond to the fourniture inner width)

and here is my inner profile with all the notches cut :

6. Before to encase the cross-pieces in their notches, you must put the inner profile on the two other profiles to mark the place of every cross-piece by drawing a line with a pencil thru every notch, be sure to put the good side of the sheet, the one that will be inner the furniture, usually the ugly side where one can see the corrugated.

7. Now simply assemble the cross-pieces in their notches. On my example, all cross-pieces are of the same size, but if their length is always the same, their height depends on your furniture outlines, so that its height fit with the ceilings and the floors of the furniture parts. It's best to glue the cross-pieces in their notches, use a glue gun, just put a drop of glue, assemble and handle the cross-piece and the profile together a few seconds and its glued.


8. Then assemble the back to the cross-pieces, one by one, just put each one in front of the mark you made, a thin line of glue, you handle them together a few seconds and it's done.

9. Do the same with the frontage.

10. Now you must cover every wall with cardboard, just measure needed dimension for the first wall then cut corresponding cardboard, glue the cross-pieces and/or sheets that will be in contact of it, then put it and hold it tight some seconds for the hot glue to solidify. Then continue for adjacent wall and so on. On my example There is 24 cardboard chunks to put in order to cover all the inner spaces, and only 4 big ones for the outer. All my chunks are simple ones, but it won't be different if there were curved ones, except that for every curve chunk I would have needed to break its straightness by rolling it over something curved like a bottle.



Yé, here we are, the construction is finished, there are some steps to complete to strenghen and then decorate it.  First each angle, I mean each place where two cardboard pieces meet, must be glued with kraft roll bands here due to the 6 niches there are 88 kraft bands to glue, sure it takes some time but that's really worth it. After that there's another thing that I do to strenghen it too, I fully cover it with a plaster that we call "enduit cyber-bricoleur", enduit is the french word for plaster and cyber-bricoleur is the name of the website that published that recipe (see here).

I don't know it you have all the needed ingredients in your country, but here they are, given in the order where they must ideally be melted : (I assume you use a small unit like a soup spoon or cup of coffee)

  • Precipitated chalk : x9 (white chalk powder usually used to opacify store's front)
  • PVA glue : x6 (usually use to glue wood)
  • Water : x3
  • linseed oil: x1 (of a smaller unit, I mean a coffee spoon if u used a soup spoon)

Just melt each ingredient with the former ones, and give it a 5 minutes rest.  It is possible to color the plaster otherwise it will be white.

Then cover the furniture of one coat, and very important, let it dry, before to apply another coat. If you want your furniture to be very clean and soft, you can sandpaper very softly.

You can also add some texture to the plaster, paper pulp that will add to its solidity, sand or coffee marc (my favorite texture that I also use with only acrylic paint) or cork or anything, but if you do so you need to also add x4 dried wallpaper glue before the linseed oil.

After that, you can choose to cover the whole furniture with some paper that will make it fit well within your appartment style, or you can simply do like I did and paint it with any paint that you like, I recommand white acrylic paint where you can put lots of texture and colorant.

And finally here is the last thing to do : cover the furniture with 2 or more coats of floor vitrifying, the water based one if you can afford it. It's expansive but it will allow you to wash your furniture and it will also protect it against small shocks and scratches.

Then you are done.


Here is a tiny furniture I just did last week-end, very easy to do... 



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Anonymous on May 31, 2013:

cute cat :D

Anonymous on May 31, 2013:

cute cat :D

Anonymous on Sep 06, 2012:

Hi, I'm looking to build a cardboard support system. It must be in the shape of a table. The dimensions must be 28" high with a tabletop surface area of 480". The hardest part is that it must hold 400lbs and it's only created from a 60"x44" piece of cardboard. Also, only hot glue may be used. Any help would be great! Thanks!

girlxx on Feb 27, 2010:

wow I have just moved into a house with my boyfriend and we need furniture so this can be good it will save us money

gilboonet on Dec 13, 2007:

It would be so cool if more people in your country could speak french, we have so many resources about cardboard furniture making, even some videos to explain the basics just like I'm trying to do.

Anyway, here some nice furnitures people made (most of them are hobbyist just like me but some are professional "cartonnistes"), don't hesitate to dig their websites even if it's in french.





(Carton Sur Ton)

Monsieur et Madame !!!




wizodd on Dec 13, 2007:

I wouldn't say your English is at all odd. You're literate which is, unfortunately, more than I can say about many of our entering college and university students...And since my French is pretty much non-existant I can't criticize anyway....

                                A Small Story

I have some friends in Wales who went on holiday to Burgundy with an adamant Welsh-only speaker. They found themselves watching him try and do business with a French-only speaking shopkeeper.

Result: 2 hours of confusion at the end of which the Welshman went away empty-handed and the shopkeeper made no sale. (Though my friends had a blast watching them!)

Moral: If you are only willing to work with those who speak your language, you will miss opportunities.

wizodd on Dec 13, 2007:

Truly, flute direction is important, but you want to have some strength in BOTH directions--your beam is going to have problems if it is strong when you push DOWN but weak if you push ACROSS.

Making alternate running flutes also makes it possible to use those pieces I just cut accidently running the wrong way accross the sheet.... ;)

You'll get an even stronger one if you make an 'I' beam with the horisontal pieces with the flutes lengthwise.

No you don't have to make one large piece if you're just cutting beams--but if you are glueing up layers, it's a whole lot faster and easier to do a large piece, weight it with some books to dry, than to glue up lots of smaller pieces. And, of course, for the outside panels, drawer pieces and such you will need larger pieces.

I agree, if you can get double fluted cardboard, it's better than gluing your own pieces up.

Double fluted is not if you don't live in or near a major city (which is commonly the case in the Midwest USA.)

It gives you options.

Many of the major users of paperboard recycle by putting it immediately into a crusher, and while you can usually get them to put some aside for you, it does greatly reduce the choices you have--as they seldom will put them aside by type.... Here, usually paperboard is actually a profitable thing to recycle, rather than a cost to have disposed of, as paperboard is almost all made of virgin wood fiber, with no clay and little ink to make recycling more complex. More so now that Mr. Bush (fascist) has implemented restrictions on imports from Canada (our major fiber source,) because they rightly refused to get involved in his attack on Iraq. This has caused fiber prices to rise.

All in all, a great way to save money and furnish on the cheap.

gilboonet on Dec 13, 2007:

It's Shigeru Ban's bridge, was built this summer in south of France, not entirely made of cardboard, lots of cardboard tubes (281) but also some aluminium and even steel, was just a performance, but they removed it before raining weather begins.


have you gone to NY MOMA recently ? they have a bench like that :

(its from Molo design, here


gilboonet on Dec 12, 2007:

Eheh! That's nice from U Bruno. Indeed I wanted to explain this cardboard furniture technique called (hum!) "intersected cross-pieces" to an american friend who can't read french, so I decided to try and do it in english and by the way I thought it could be interesting to directly share it on a community Do It Yourself site, and Curbly looked a cool place to do so…


Beware Wizodd, there's no need to make one big sheet of cardboard made of 3 double layered ones or 6 simples, just 3 double layered are needed, or 3 made of 2 simple each. If you have double layered sheets, it is important to put them with the flutes vertically so they are solid. Horizontally corrugated cardboard is easy to bend, remind of that it could be helpful if you make a rounded furniture that will need you to bend a sheet to follow your round shape.

And when making the cross-pieces, better use double layered cardboard too or double the strips so that they are solid enough. Also, when cutting the cross-pieces pay attention to the flutes direction so that your cross-pieces are solid taken vertically.

bruno on Dec 12, 2007:

This is so cool! I just wanted to compliment you on your hobby, and say that this is exactly the kind of stuff Curbly is all about! Congrats!

gilboonet on Dec 12, 2007:

Thanx alot for your tips and ideas. I hope that with your help more people would be able to try and make their first cardboard furniture.

It's sad that in your country you cannot easily find double layer cardboard, I'm sure there are lots of companies where everyday such cardboard is thrown away at their cost and they certainly would be happy if anyone could disencumbers them of all this paperboard at no cost for them.

wizodd on Dec 12, 2007:

You can also:

Use a full sheet for the first and last layers, use strips of cardboard as reinforcement for the middle layers (run a 2" band around the perimeter.)

There are many ways to make joint come together, look at a woodworkers jointing reference and experiment.

When laying out the joint, leave a gap on one side of the joint equal to the sheet thickness-1layer, when you bend it, the edge of one side of the gap will end up against the outer layer, the other against the inner layer. This gives good results for 90 degree corners.

(But other techniques allow you to make a wider variety of angles...)

If you spray the finished pieces with paint, a plasticoat spray, or cover in contact paper, it will make it easier to clean.

Exposed edges of these sandwiches have a velvety feel, if you make many layers of corrugated board, and use the edge as a seat, they are very strong, and to clean you can just sand them a bit.

wizodd on Dec 12, 2007:

Double layer cardboard (corrugated paper board) can be difficult to find, but easy to make:


6 Sheets of cardboard, Cut to the outside dimensions ½ sheets flutes long way ½ flutes short.

White glue (Buy a gallon from your home building supply, $10.)


Glue roller (woodworkers tool, roller attached to glue reservoir $2-3)

Utility knife $1-5

Plastic sheet larger than cardboard.


Lay a sheet on the floor or work surface on plastic sheet.

Next sheet of cardboard, with the flutes running at right angles. (e.g. if the first sheet has the flutes running the long way, thee next should have them running the short way.)

Layer of glue on the top of the first sheet.

Place the second sheet on top of the first, square the edges.

Alternate flute directions.

3 sheets of double is a six layer sandwich.

This is a basic slab from which pieces can be cut.

snelgified on Dec 09, 2007:

Merci beaucoup. :)

gilboonet on Dec 08, 2007:

Merci, c'est un réparateur de pare-brises qui me les donne, dommage qu'ils ne donnent pas les grands et plus solides encore cartons dans lesquels les pare-brises sont emballés, ils pourraient servir à réaliser un canapé. On peut récupérer pas mal de carton auprès des commerçants vu qu'ils en utilisent beaucoup et doivent les ramener à la déchetterie.

Vous pouvez aller voir ici cette discussion à propos de la récupération de cartons pour les meubles, et n'hésitez pas à faire part de votre expérience et des problèmes que vous rencontrez. 


Thanks, the cardboard sheets are given to me by a car's windshield repairer. Mainly you can get cardboard from lots of companies as they use lots of cardboard and must deposit them at the dechettery.

snelgified on Dec 08, 2007:

C'est super! Ou trouvez-vouz le carton?

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