How to make a shelf out of cardboard

Written by sarah schreiber
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How to make a shelf out of cardboard
Recycle old boxes by turning them into shelves. (AndreaAstes/iStock/Getty Images)

Creating a shelf out of cardboard gives you an eco-friendly, inexpensive storage option, customisable to your specific size requirements. A basic shelf only requires several layers of cardboard and glue in order to create a sturdy surface for storage. Mount the shelf using standard brackets available at most hardware or home improvement stores, and use this basic do-it-yourself project in any living area or storage space, such as a closet or garage.

Things you need

  • Utility knife
  • Urethane glue
  • Glue roller

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  1. 1

    Measure out the size of your cardboard shelf based on your specific needs. It's best to stick to shorter, narrower shelves, as cardboard isn't as strong as traditional shelving materials like wood and plastic.

  2. 2

    Create a shelf template by tracing the size and shape onto a piece of corrugated cardboard. Draw the outline onto the surface using a pencil and cut out with a utility knife. Be aware the surface on which you are cutting can be scratched, so perform the task on a project table or other suitable space.

  3. 3

    Place the shelf template on top of a piece of corrugated cardboard and trace around the edges. Repeat this process on at least three additional pieces of cardboard. These four layers will form the shelf. Use more layers if you plan on storing heavier objects like books, or prefer a thicker look.

  4. 4

    Cut out each piece of cardboard with a utility knife.

  5. 5

    Place one shelf layer in front of you and apply a layer of white or yellow glue to the top using a glue roller. Press another shelf layer into place on top, lining the edges up with the bottom layer. Repeat the glue process until all layers are in place. Allow time for the glue to dry based on your product instructions.

  6. 6

    Paint the shelf in the colour of your choice using a high-gloss acrylic for visual appeal. Leave the cardboard in its original state for a modern, industrial look.

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