Welcome to my cardboard craft blog

Whether you are just plain bored or simply too broke to purchase other materials; cardboard is free! Cardboard is such a versitile craft medium that you can make just about anything from it. All you need is a little knowledge about different construction techniques to ignite your own art passion for cardboard. This blog is intended to show the construction techniques I use in my own cardboard crafts. When you learn the secrets of creating strength with cardboard you can create whatever you desire. From simple items like picture frames to extremely large pieces of usable furniture; it will all be possible. Travel along with me as I show you the secrets hidden within the cardboard. Go green or save a tree or just to keep it out of a landfill.... whatever your choice of phrases.... start creating your own cardboard art. If you find this blog helpful, please recommend it to your friends.

If you are new to this blog it's best to read the numbered labels first. ie: 1 - What do you see? 2 - Tools you need etc.

In those labels you will find the basic information you need to get started making your own cardboard furniture and crafts.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Still here

Gosh, it seems like forever since I've had a chance to work on the cardboard furniture.  I have other priorities to get out of the way before I can play with cardboard again.  Buttoning up the house for winter is a priority.  So is finishing up customer quilts.  I don't want this blog to go dormant in blogger.  Which is why I'm writing a simple post.  I have a ton of ideas for furniture creations.... right here in my own house.  I keep telling myself..... someday, someday, someday.  Well, I'm pretty anxious for someday to get here!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Breakfast bar - section 2, step five

Now it's time to close up the inside of this section.  Measure from front to back.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Breakfast bar - Section 2, step four

In step three I showed how I had marked the places where the struts will attach to the top and the back.  I now lay the back piece down so I can work with it first.

Marks where struts will attach

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Breakfast bar, section 2 - step three

Now I need to cut notches in the frame to hold the struts.  I marked a line down the center of all three rails on the center piece.  The only piece that gets notches will be the piece for the center (inside).  The front and the back piece do not get any notches.

The struts should be no more than 6 inches apart nor closer than 2 inches.  I chose to align 5 struts along each of the rails.  I marked the notches to match the thickness of the struts and cut the notches out.  Here you see what will be the bottom rail. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Breakfast bar, section 2 - step two

Just like with the first section we will need struts for strength.  My cabinet is 18 inched deep, front to back, so I took a piece of board 18 inches wide and drew some lines one inch apart.  Then drew a line down the center.  This line is useful for another step.  Drawing it now will insure that all of the struts are marked in the identical place.

The strength of the flutes need to be orientated so they go top to bottom when placed in your cabinet.  This will be more apparent later in the instructions.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Breakfast bar, section 2 - step one

I've done all I can to section one of the breakfast bar until the other two sections are made.  I can work on covering it completely with paper and wall paper paste but that's about it.

I'm starting on the second section using a different technique as a demonstration how you can make furniture this way too. 

I start by cutting three identical sized boards.  These are the front, middle, and back of this section.  We won't need a top, bottom, or sides until later. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Breakfast bar - step 8

This is really a continuation of step 7.  Here you can see I'm covering the whole piece with paper except for the bottom where it will be connected to a base with wheels.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Breakfast bar - step 7

I'm skipping ahead to the next step instead of making more drawers.  I still want to make more drawers for my cabinet but I'm short on cardboard.  I need to save what large pieces I have to start making the second section of the breakfast bar.  It's best to cut your largest pieces first and use leftovers to cut smaller pieces.  I can add more drawers when I get a new supply of cardboard.  I don't want to hold up the instruction posts while I wait for more cardboard.

For this next step it's time to hide the imperfections of the cardboard and smooth the transition (hide the edges) between the water based tape and the cardboard.  The cardboard furniture will never be as perfectly smooth as a good piece of sanded wood because it's not real wood.  We just want to do what we can to get as smooth as possible. 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Breakfast bar - step 6

I have said that if I ever got new kitchen base cabinets they would have drawers instead of just shelves.  Well heck, I ask myself, why am I making shelves for my breakfast bar instead of drawers like I prefer?  I couldn't find a reason, so I decided to make drawers.  Here's the first one. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Breakfast bar - step 5

Creating this shelf is basically the same as step 3.  Cut a bottom piece the correct size, side to side, front to back.  Cut the struts with the flutes going up and down.  Glue in place.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Breakfast bar - step 4

Are you able to follow the steps ok?  If not, please post a comment and I'll try to explain it better.

I'm now ready to add the next shelf.  This one will be 18 inches above the first one.  I lay the unit on it's back so it will be easier to glue the struts.  The struts I cut are 18 X 1 inch, with the flutes running lengthwise.   Here I have the box laying on it's back.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Breakfast bar - step 3

Remember where we left off with step 2?  Now I'm going to make the first shelf.  I measure from side wall to side wall (above the shelf wall) and front to back. The shelf should set comfortably on top of the struts when finished.  I need two cardboard pieces the same size.  A top and a bottom to close up the struts inside the shelf.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Breakfast bar - step 2

Now it's time to start constructing the bones of the first section of the breakfast bar.  Remember, I'm creating this breakfast bar in four sections.   I use two basic ways to add strength inside my furniture pieces.  I'm showing you the first way with this first section of my breakfast bar.  I'll show you the other way when I construct the second section.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Breakfast bar construction - step 1

Now it's time to begin the construction of the breakfast bar.  This will be section one of the four.  I gathered the boxes I need to start.  I've been very lucky that the man who brings me cardboard has double fluted boxes large enough to cut big pieces.  Double flutes are stronger but you can use single flute if that's all you can find.  Just be sure it's large enough to cut full pieces from it and only build furniture to hold light weight stuff.

I cut one bottom piece, two side pieces, and one back piece.  There's no top or front pieces for now.  When cutting the side and back pieces I was careful that the flutes go from top to bottom.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Repairing dents and dings

Sometimes you will get cardboard boxes with things like this on them.  You don't want your furniture to have dents or dings unless you are going for that look.

Breakfast bar - the beginning

I often use the words paper boards and cardboards to mean the same thing.  With any piece of  cardboard furniture you need to start with a sketch.  You don't need to be precise with the drawing.  It's only to help you plan the construction so the furniture fits where you want it to fit.  I write notes on my sketch to help me remember measurements too.   For this piece I did a sketch of an overhead view to remind myself that it should have an area underneath for a person's legs just like a table would.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The secret revealed

In order to construct cardboard furniture you need to know where cardboard is strongest.  Knowing where the strength of the cardboard is, is the secret ingredient for it's construction.  You don't want to make a whole piece of furniture only to have it collapse the first time you put something heavy on it or in it.  So here's an experiment.  Take a cardboard tube and stand it on end.  The one I'm using is a paper towel tube.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What do you see?

If a stranger were to walk through my house they might believe I'm ready to be committed..... or at the very least; be signed up for a hoarder intervention.  Just to see the items I save, a person might believe I have a serious mental problem.  Hmm... maybe they are right.  I do save some strange things.  I save and save.... until it all becomes a fire hazard then I clear almost everything out and start saving all over again.  Along the way, some items actually do get used for it's intended purpose. 

So let me ask you this..... when you see this stuff, what do you see?  A pile of empty boxes ready for the trash?  Most people would. 
 I don't see these items in quite the same way as most people. 

These two boxes could become the decorative parts of a chandelier or pretty gift tags. 

These 4 boxes look to me like the beginning of a quilting machine tool storage box with sections for spare parts and screwdrivers.   Hmm.... maybe a storage box to hold paint brushes, paints, crayons, and drawing pencils? 

See how nicely the boxes play together?  Just a little work and the boxes could be fixed for stacking instead of down inside each other.  Each box would hold different tools or parts.

This box could be woven into parts of a basket or a bowl.

So what do you see here?  More trash?  Again, most people would see these as just trash.  I see pretty shiny gift bows made from the chip bag because the inside is silver.  I see the can labels and the noodle bags woven into a purse.  The phone book made into paper beads.... hmm, maybe small homemade note pads. 

What about these?  What do you see? 

Add those boxes to some of these boxes and I see an organizer cabinet for plastic quilting rulers and rotary cutters.  The boxes above would be the drawers and boxes like this one as the bones of the cabinet.

All you have to do is imagine the possibilities.  I don't see all that stuff as just trash.... I see it as construction materials for crafts or art.
Cardboard (in my opinion) is the most versatile art medium or craft supply ever created.  Cardboard can be found in all manner of shapes and types.    It can be manipulated to form even more shapes and forms.  You can cut it, bend it, shape it, twist it, weave it, curl it, tape it, glue it, write on it, paint it, crimp it, emboss it, and the list could go on and on.  The best part about cardboard is that it's FREE. 

It doesn't matter if you are just bored and looking for something to do or simply out of funds to buy supplies for your favorite craft..... cardboard can occupy your time.  Pick up an empty cardboard box and look for the possibilities within it.  Need a new piece of jewelry?  Make one out of cardboard.  Need an organizer system for a kitchen drawer?  Make it out of cardboard. 

Being broke should not be an obstacle to having furniture in your home.  Once you know the secret to construction you can make any furniture you need.  This could include beds, couches, dressers, china cabinets..... oh the possibilities!  Are you beginning to see what I see instead of just a pile of trash?  No?  Well give me a little time and maybe I can show you the possibilities hidden in the trash cardboard.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Basic tools needed

There are some basic tools needed when working with cardboard.  What you actually need for each project will depend on what you are making.  I will show you what I have right now and add to this list as I work with newer projects.  This is what I would call a basic starter kit for working with single or double fluted cardboard.  That's the average type of packing and shipping cardboard found in any dumpster. 

This is my basic tool kit

1.  Plastic rulers (from my quilting supplies)
2.  A metal square ruler
3.  A craft knife (breakable blade)
4.  Measuring tape
5. Foam sander (this has 2 grit sizes, fine and course)
6. Scissors (for cutting paper)
7.  Pencils
8.  Metal wood rasp (used for knocking off hard edges of glued joins, costs about $2 at Big Lots)

I also have a supply of different glues

1. Small craft glue gun and lots of glue sticks
2.  All purpose white glue
3. Rubber cement

Be sure to check out my post for making homemade glue and paste under the label "3 - Hints tips and stuff"

One of the most important items in my basic tool kit is the tape.  This tape is very important for sealing the joins and making them strong.  It's also rather expensive and hard to find.  This is the type of tape that was used for sealing cardboard boxes long before self-adhesive brand tapes (like scotch) were invented.  This tape is made from paper with reinforcing strings running through it.  The glue is activated with water which creates a really good bond with cardboard. 

I believe I bought that roll of tape from Office Depot or from Staples for around $12.  If anyone knows of a cheaper place to purchase it please let me know.  The tape is 3 inches wide so I cut it into strips of 1 inch to help stretch it farther.  For most joins on the cardboard a 1 inch strip works fine.

The water activated glue and the paper of the tape helps it bond better with the paper of the cardboard than a plastic based tape does.  It can also be painted as if it were a part of the cardboard because it's paper.  Plastic type tapes do not hold paint well.  Don't be tempted to use masking tape either.  Masking tape will not hold a permanent bond with the cardboard and you will have wasted your time. 

Along with these basic tools an electric jig-saw is helpful for cutting multiple pieces of cardboard at the same time.  (I'm dreaming of getting a Dremmel but it's out of my budget.) 

This should be enough basic tools to get you started.    
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