How to make a cardboard box smaller

Updated April 17, 2017

Cardboard boxes are the star of storage. They are inexpensive, durable and practical. Cardboard's lightweight design derives its durability from the wavy middle layer. Not all types of cardboard can be recycled, such as waxed corrugated cardboard that carries meat and produce. To recycle your cardboard boxes, remove any stuffing and flatten them. You can also recycle cardboard boxes by reusing them. When reusing cardboard boxes, you might not find the exact size you need. Instead of searching for a new box, make the old cardboard box smaller to ensure compact packing.

Decide if you want to make the cardboard box smaller in length or width. The method of minimising will be the same regardless of what side you cut down. Measure the object you want to store to figure out how much smaller to make the box. If you have an object that is 10 inches wide and 12 inches long, and you have a box that is 12 inches wide and 18 inches long, you will want to cut off length.

Sit the box upright. In this example, cut off the width end of the box that is 12 inches wide. Keep this cut-off piece.

Use the ruler and pencil to mark the cardboard box. For this example, shrink the box to a 12-by-14 inch size. You want to leave a little room for packing material. So to shrink the length down, measure the length you want cut off from the cut open end of the box back. Mark the box; in this example, it would be 4 inches back from the open end to reduce 18 inches to 14.

Use the box cutter to cut off the excess length of cardboard from the open side of the box. Be sure to keep a straight edge.

Fit the width end back up to the shortened side. Straighten the edges. Use packing tape to seal the seams of your cardboard box.


To reduce the height of a box, cut off the bottom of the box to start. Make sure to use extra tape when resealing.

Things You'll Need

  • Box cutter
  • Packing tape
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Cardboard box
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