How to make paper mache furniture

Updated February 21, 2017

Since it's made out of old newspapers, paper mache is an environmentally sustainable art form. You can shape anything out of paper mache, and the result is strong enough to be used as furniture. Though paper mache is typically made from cutting strips of newspaper and dipping them into a glue-like starch or flour-based liquid to wrap a surface, you can also make them without using an existing surface. This technique involves making a claylike mould you can work with out of the newspaper and glue-like mixture.

Use your empty paper towel rolls as the four table legs. You'll want to use tape to stack rolls on top of each other to get your desired height. To keep the table legs from wobbling, squash the end of one roll so you can fit it inside the end of another roll.

Close and seal with masking tape your cardboard box, which will be your table top.

Cut out four circular holes at each of the four bottom corners of your cardboard box. The diameter of the holes should be just a bit smaller than that of the cardboard tube ends. Use your measuring tape to help with accuracy.

Push one leg into each of the four holes. You want the height of your table to be approximately 71 cm / 28 inches from the ground to the table's top. Once the legs are at the right height, fasten the legs in with masking tape.

Dip newspaper strips into your flour-based or starch-based paper mache liquid and cover the table's exterior with them.

Allow the paper mache to dry overnight.

Cover the table with a few more coatings of paper mache to create a firm, sturdy surface. Allow it to dry and harden again.

Use acrylic paint to paint your table your desired colour.

Finish it off with a coating of varnish. Let dry.


You can include a drawer in your table by cutting out a gap in the table top's side using a box cutter and wrapping the cut edges using paper mache. Create another box for a drawer and insert it into the gap.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper
  • 5 x 50-cm cardboard box, 15 cm thick (2 x 20-inch cardboard box, 6 inches thick)
  • Masking tape
  • Several empty paper towel rolls
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brush
  • Starch- or flour-based liquid
  • Varnish
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About the Author

Lindsay Haskell began writing fiction and nonfiction in 2008. Her debut novel, "Grace," is to be published in January 2011. Having lived in five different countries and traveled across five continents, Haskell specializes in Third World social and political issues, with a concentration in the Darfur conflict. She is currently a first-year student at Wellesley College studying history, Africana studies and English.