How to Make Cardboard Drawers

Make custom-sized cardboard drawers and you can turn a shelf into a bureau or organise storage. With a few measurements, you can design the perfect containers for whatever you need to store. All of the drawers can be the same size, or vary them for a more flexible end result. Decorate the drawers to suit the decor of the room.

Measure the area where the drawer will be used. Use the measurements to draw the outline of the drawer on the cardboard, subtracting about ΒΌ inch all around for room to slide the drawer. The final sketch will resemble a stout plus sign, with the body of the cross formed by the bottom of the drawer and the four arms formed by the front, back and sides.

Position the cardboard on a stable, flat surface. Place the straight edge along one of the lines to be cut. Use the craft knife or box cutter to cut along the straight edge. Repeat along remaining exterior edges.

Use the straight edge and stylus to mark the score lines on the inside of the drawer where the cardboard will fold to form the sides of the drawer.

Fold the sides up and secure them using reinforced tape down the length of each corner. Place the tape on the inside unless the drawers will be covered.

Decorate the exterior of the drawer by covering with self adhesive contact paper, stickers, paint or crayons.

Add a handle by poking two holes through the front of the drawer. Thread a loop of yarn, twine or ribbon through the two holes and secure the ends on the inside of the drawer.

Place the finished drawer on the shelf with the handle facing out.


Strengthen the front of the drawer with reinforced tape across the inside where you plan to position the holes for the handle. Remember to add the measurement for the sides twice, once for each side. A drawer to fit a 6-inch deep by 8-inch wide by 4-inch high space requires cardboard 14 inches by 16 inches to cut the finished shape. Redecorate by recovering or repainting the drawers. Involve a child in the process by letting him create the artwork for the drawers in his own room. Ribbons, lace, press-on stickers, photographs and wrapping paper are among the potential decorating materials.


A large drawer may encourage overloading, which can result in failure of the drawer. Consider using two smaller drawers instead. Craft knives and box cutters pose a danger to small children. Use extreme care when children are nearby.

Things You'll Need

  • Strong corrugated cardboard
  • Ruler, yardstick or other straight edge
  • Pencil or marker
  • Craft knife or box cutter
  • Stylus or other blunt-edged instrument
  • Wide reinforced tape
  • Heavy yarn, twine or ribbon (optional)
  • Self-adhesive contact paper (optional)
  • Measuring tape (optional)
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Mary Beth Magee began her writing career with an article in the "New Orleans Times-Picayune" more than 40 years ago. She has been published in local and national media, including "Real Estate Today" and "Just Praising God." Magee holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology, with a focus on adult learning, from Elmhurst College.