This post will give you a bit of information on cardboard furniture. I recently made this adorable little cardboard play table for my niece’s tea-party christmas present. It’s really easy to do, inexpensive (especially if you’re using recycled cardboard) and far more durable than you would think!
The first thing you’ll want to do is collect your cardboard. I won’t give you very exact measurements because it’s really up to you what size furniture you’d like to make. This tale is about 14 inches high and 2.5 ft square. I recommend you recycle cardboard. Go to your local grocery store or electronics store and ask for their boxes. I’ve done this before and got really great heavy-duty cardboard from a local fruit stand. For this table I bought cardboard at the art store for about $3 a sheet and it took three sheets. I just didn’t have time to run around and find any. For the top of the table I used three-ply cardboard for strength and the rest was made with single ply corrugated cardboard.
You will also need a good sharp box cutter, white tissue paper, gesso, a big foam paint brush, a glue gun and paper tape. Paper tape can be found at your art store. It is generally used for water-color painting. Paper tape has an adhesive on the back that is water activated. The benefit of this tape is that it is paper and when you paint over it will absorb paint rather than bead up.
These are the pieces I cut out for the table…
The side of my table is scalloped but you can make that anyway you like. The picture on the right is the table leg. The table legs I made are 14 inches tall and 2in square. It’s important for the table legs that the corrugations in the cardboard runs verticle to give it strength. Where I’ve marked the dotted lines score the cardboard (don’t cut all the way through) and that will give you nice sharp corners on your table leg. The last panel is .25in wider so that it can over lap where it will glue together.
Get out your glue gun and start gluing all of your pieces together. apply glue to the edge of the table top piece and attach the table side. The next part is important for strength. Use the glue gun like a caulking gun and run it along all of the seams forcing more glue into cracks and making the seams smooth and strong. Do it on the inside seams.
Next you will use the paper tape!
Water activate the sticky side of the tape with your foam brush and use the tape to cover any raw edges. Use it along all of the seams and press it flat. To cover round edges cut darts out of the tape and smooth it around the edges.
Next, grab your gesso, tissue paper and foam brush. Paint the table and apply sheets of tissue paper as you go. Put tissue paper down on the wet gesso and paint more white gesso over it. This will give you a good plain white base to paint on later. Make sure not to run your brush over the tissue paper too many times or it will tear.
In this photo you can see the glue used as caulk on the rough edges and the paper tape covering the seams on the inside of the table. This table isn’t as finished as some proper cardboard furniture pieces but it’s for kids so I didn’t go nuts. I wanted the legs of my table to be detachable so I created pockets to shove the legs into. They’re really snug so that the legs don’t fall out.
Paint the table as you like. I did a yellow wood grain on the legs and painted the top like a table-cloth. Finish the piece with a few coats of varnish, this will make it much more durable and keep it safe from water!
Don’t limit your cardboard furniture to your kids! I’ve made pieces for my apartment before and they are so unique and beautiful. Most people think it is wood until they pick it up! They’re extremely durable and sturdy. I have a chest of drawers that I can stand on. Once they’re varnished they are quite safe.
For some ideas on what cardboard furniture can look like check out this instructibles tutorial!