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How-Tuesday: DIY Cardboard Projects

Apr 2, 2013

by Julie Schneider handmade and vintage goods

Welcome to corrugation nation! For this week’s How-Tuesday, we’re honoring Earth Day with a round up of 18 cardboard-based tutorials that encourage soaring imaginations and creative reuse. Before you toss out that load of recycling, take inspiration from this DIY collection and tip your cardboard hat to Mother Earth!


For the Imagination

Playful projects for kids of all ages.

Row 1 (left to right):
1. Cardboard Castle — Use duct tape and cardboard to build a colorful castle.
2. Play Guitars —  Jam out on a cardboard guitar with rubber band strings.
3. Patterned Playhouses — Build a small neighborhood of cheery playhouses made from cardboard and wallpaper or gift wrap.

Row 2 (left to right):
1. Cardboard Washing Machine — Create a playtime prop to promote clean clothes.
2. A Fleet of Ships — Ahoy! Turn cardboard into pirate ships.
3. Stacking Toys — Make a modular building set.


For Celebrating

Party-worthy projects that won’t break the bank.

Row 1 (left to right):
1. A Stampede of Horses — Make a horse to hang on the wall, or a whole wild horse party!
2. Royal Crown —  Craft a party hat fit for a king.
3. Floral Garland — Add a festive pop of color with this garland made from egg cartons.

Row 2 (left to right):
1. Cardboard Sandals — These Earth Day-worthy sandals are made from a bike tube upper, a cardboard platform, a tire sole, and some real ingenuity.
2. Ombre Pinata — Sure to be the smash hit of the party.
3. Simple Gift Tags — Label your presents with simple, stylish tags.


For the Home

Tutorials for cardboard nesting.

Row 1 (left to right):
1. Picture Frames — Low-budget frames highlight big memories.
2. Cat Clubhouse —  Make a sturdy hang-out for even the most “luxuriously large” feline friends.
3. Cardboard Clock — It’s time to recycle.

Row 2 (left to right):
1. Foldable Kids Furniture — Downloadable instructions for making a stool, chair, and rocker.
2. Desk Organizer — A sturdy and stylish way to keep things neat.
3. Upcycled Chandelier— A silhouette fixture that shed lights and lightens the load in the recycling bin.

What’s the most exciting thing you’ve made with cardboard?

If you make any of these projects, share a photo with us in the How-Tuesday Flickr group.

More Things to Make | Craft Supplies on Etsy

Classic Chandelier - Paper Chandelier, Hanging Chandelier, Party Chandelier, Cardboard Chandelier, Lighting Chandelier
Classic Chandelier - Paper Chandelier, Hanging Chandelier, Party Chandelier, Cardboard Chandelier, Lighting Chandelier
Custom Cardboard Sign
Custom Cardboard Sign
$25.00 USD


  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 6 years ago

    Cardboard projects are the best! Even when the kids get a new toy or I get a shipment of supplies, the cardboard box seems more fun! They get hours of play out of it turning it into a fort or a boat! Lots of fun!!!

  • EdelweissPost

    Patrick from EdelweissPost said 6 years ago

    Cardboard leaves so much to the imagination. That is why children of all ages are still drawn to its magic~

  • jessgreenleaf

    Jess Greenleaf from GREENLEAFblueberry said 6 years ago

    I really like the idea for the cardboard gift hangtags. I know in my family we tend to reuse the same ones year after year. In that way these would be doubly reused. They would also be pretty durable, and I like the craft paper color.

  • NinaRaizel

    Nina from NinaRaizel said 6 years ago

    I love these selections! They prove that you don't need anything complicated, expensive, or rare to create beauty and function. All you need is some cardboard, a knife, a bit of glue, and a ton of imagination!

  • agebo

    Ann Cosgrove from acbcDesign said 6 years ago

    Great inspiration! Love all the creativity. Thanks for sharing!

  • valeriephoto

    Valerie from valeriestitchery said 6 years ago

    What great ideas! When we were in college, my best friend, who's now a professional potter, made a large armchair entirely out of corrugated cardboard. It was really sturdy!

  • NirvanaRoad

    Lisa from NirvanaRoad said 6 years ago

    Love the cardboad lamps. All a kid needs is a big box and imagination to have fun for hours!

  • ThePattypanShop

    ThePattypanShop from ThePattypanShop said 6 years ago

    Cool projects!! Thanks!

  • Ludwigsshop

    Jackie Ludwig from TheLudwigShop said 6 years ago

    I love the custom cardboard sign!

  • deodorantshop

    Deodorant Shop from deodorantshop said 6 years ago

    SO unique!! Absolutely love this =)

  • mattyhandmadecrafts

    Matejka Max from NattyMatty said 6 years ago

    Fun & playful!

  • HabitNation

    Rebecca and Daniel from HabitNation said 6 years ago

    My dad, while growing up on a farm with his adoptive parents, never had store bought toys. They didn't believe in buying them and rarely gave the boys time to play anyway. When my dad and his brothers did find time, they had to make toys out of cardboard and other found objects. Because of this, I've always noticed my dad has a fascination with toys even in his 70s. I wish I could have seen some of his creations.

  • buhnon

    Shantel Nielson from ThePinkRaffy said 6 years ago

    Awesome! I loved making things with cardboard as a kid :)

  • GisieArt

    Giselle from MyArtAndFashion said 6 years ago

    Amazing work. Love the robot and the fruit bowl. Congrats on feature!!!!!!!!!!

  • PillowcaseHeaven

    Kathy Johnson from KathysLittleAttic said 6 years ago

    Nice to see all the creativity from cardboard! My friends and I used to make our doll houses out of cardboard boxes and some of them were pretty elaborate!

  • SpaceMauve

    Caroline Bee from SpaceMauve said 6 years ago

    Awesome .

  • CreativeMoves

    CreativeMoves from CreativeMoves said 6 years ago

    What fun! I was thinking the other day of the large cardboard box I played with as a kid- that thing got scribbled on with markers, and became a pirate ship, rocket ship, train many things I really can't remember them all now! :) I recently made a fun little marble maze out of cardboard boxes and paper towel tubes! (It was originally a school project created as a response to a piece of music - but it is still hanging on my wall today!)

  • JimSumner

    Jimmy and Monique from polymeryay said 6 years ago

    I had a professor in college who would have us build scaled up objects for design class. You really can do a lot with cardboard.

  • ArtDecoDame

    Desiree from ArtDecoDame said 6 years ago

    These are so creative!

  • Iammie

    iammie from iammie said 6 years ago


  • emadefreitas

    Ema de Freitas from EmasCorner said 6 years ago

    I absolutely love the suggestions! Wonderful products made with cardboard! Little do we need to make beautiful things, right?

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage said 6 years ago


  • PoshBinky

    Jennifer from PoshBinky said 6 years ago

    This is great!!! I want to make them all!!

  • BambuEarth

    Amber from BambuEarth said 6 years ago

    Okay, you must know this is right up my alley. I'm always saving cardboard pieces and rolls because, well, they just always look like they could be so darn useful re-purposed. So they hang around our soap room waiting for some genius moment of inspiration. Thanks for helping out in that dept. ♥

  • redkarvin1989

    redkarvin from redkarvin1989 said 6 years ago


  • theaterclouds

    Elly MacKay from theaterclouds said 6 years ago

    My mom, Joan Irvine wrote a book called, Make it with Boxes when I was a kid. We had a box club and tried out all of the projects. Here are a few: mini golf, box airplane, dragon costume, and my very favourite... dioramas! You can likely still find the book in libraries if you are looking for more box project ideas. I am biased but... it is a really awesome book.

  • PrayerNotes

    Prayer Notes by Cynthia from PrayerNotes said 6 years ago

    These are absolutely beautiful! Wow! Thanks, for the inspiration!

  • knitsbycaitlin

    Caitlin Edge from knitsbycaitlin said 6 years ago

    So cute!

  • LiddoKiddo

    LiddoKiddo from LiddoKiddo said 6 years ago


  • dorothydomingo

    Dorothy Domingo from dorothydomingo said 6 years ago

    I love using corrugated cardboard in my collage projects. I use a little square of it on all my handmade business cards, as well as using recycled cereal boxes as the substrate for the cards. There is something very satisfying about reusing materials artfully, giving them one more life before their time in the landfill.

  • CharmiosHandmade

    Natalie, Robert and Samantha Schapiro from CharmiosCraftParty said 6 years ago

    love this! paper crafting with cardboard, card stock or toilet paper rolls are one of our faves!

  • jojobeandesigns

    Joanna Sargent from jojobeandesigns said 6 years ago

    My son and I use cardboard boxes for everything! He loves stacking them like giant blocks, hiding in them, driving them around. He has had cardboard tool sets, stoves, musical instruments, boats, space ships, racing ramps... cardboard rocks!

  • auntjanecan

    Jane Priser from JanePriserArts said 6 years ago

    I love cardboard! It is SO useful. These ideas are great!

  • Fullerjewelry

    Jane Fuller from Hoopsetc said 6 years ago

    Really great ideas.. it's like the cheap version of lego! You can build anything you set your mind to with a cardboard box... and a little imagination!

  • wonbien

    W.B. from DishwasherSign said 6 years ago

    Great article. Thanks!

  • MrsGingerandWasabi

    Marta DQ from tribomo said 6 years ago

    This is so great, I love recycling materials and is always good to use your imagination!

  • MrsGingerandWasabi

    Marta DQ from tribomo said 6 years ago

    This is so great, I love to reuse materials!

  • emwi

    Emily Wirt from emwi said 6 years ago

    So fun! These are great ways to use old cardboard. Absolutely love it.

  • TheRobinsTree

    Robin from TheRobinsTree said 6 years ago

    These ideas are so neat!

  • EllipsisBooksandMore

    Ellipsis Books from EllipsisBooksandMore said 6 years ago

    So neat! I love upcylcing!

  • LeasaMarie

    Leasa from LeasaDesigns said 6 years ago

    Wow - I am saving my cardboard!! So fun...!

  • Mythillogical

    Jenny from Mythillogical said 6 years ago

    There's something so infinitely friendly about cardboard! Lovely picks

  • aritalucke

    Arita from TheBombshellBowtique said 6 years ago

    I used to build cardboard houses out of appliance boxes with my siblings each summer. We would spend hours building, decorating, and playing together in our new houses. Not only was it super fun, but it stretched us to work together, be creative, and give an object a second life. What a wonderful post!

  • FiberContent

    Robin Smith from FiberContent said 6 years ago

    Very cool projects--some might work with my students. THanks.

  • H88255

    H88255 from HillarysSuperfoods said 6 years ago

    The creativity here never ceases to amaze me! It is so wonderful when you can find another use for something we use everyday. Better for the planet and better for us!

  • ThreeBarDGifts

    Monica from ThreeBarDGifts said 6 years ago

    Great ideas! Love the cardboard toys and horses!

  • GeorgieGirlLLC

    D George from GeorgieGirlLLC said 6 years ago

    Great post!

  • JennNycee

    Jennica Jennice from JNYCJWLZ said 6 years ago


  • cmallouf1

    Chris T Emm from ThunderandRain said 6 years ago

    I work for the Conservatory of Fine Arts in Los angeles, and these are not only amazing, but inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

  • cubiciti

    Addy Widjaja from cubiciti said 6 years ago

    Love..Love these! Great project! Thanks for sharing!

  • paperdawgs

    CRIS from PaperDawgs said 6 years ago

    Love these great ideas check out our shop too for wonderful DIY card board and card stock projects such as SWANS AND DRAGONS

  • MitosisGlass

    MitosisGlass from MitosisGlass said 6 years ago

    What a great post! When my son was younger, cardboard was his favourite thing; he could build worlds for himself with all kinds of electronics, dashboards, etc. all out of cardboard. One year he got a huge roll of cardboard and some scissors and tape as a gift, and couldn't have been happier!

  • BemusingBaubles

    Sarah Laguna from BemusingBaubles said 6 years ago

    Cardboard boxes will always be amazingly fun. I used to make doll houses out of them when I was little, as well as playgrounds for my cats.

  • aressa

    aressa from OriginalBridalHanger said 6 years ago

    Wow! I didn't know you could do so much with cardboard!! Really neat!

  • ArcanaAntiquities

    ArcanaAntiquities from ArcanaAntiquities said 6 years ago

    Creative and cool - thanks for the inspiration!

  • caitlinborck

    Caitlin Borck from TheSprightlyHound said 6 years ago

    I would never have thought cardboard could be so useful and beautiful...thank you!

  • TheresasGourmet

    Theresa Ryales from TheresasGourmet said 6 years ago

    Absolutely Amazing!!!

  • EriMill

    Erin Miller from ThreePoisonApples said 6 years ago

    Inspiration heaven. And they're so clean looking!! So smart, so creative, geniuses at work.

  • EriMill

    Erin Miller from ThreePoisonApples said 6 years ago

    Super Inspiration. They are so clean! So smart, so creative, geniuses at work!

  • mariashacreaw

    Maria Shacreaw from StarlightBags said 6 years ago


  • richardlithgow

    Richard Lithgow from RichardLithgow said 6 years ago


  • HairAccents

    Charm Accents from CharmAccents said 6 years ago

    I live in total awe about those who can create such lovely and detailed items from card board. Totally genius and fabulous artistic talent!


    VINTAGE NOW from ESTATENOW said 6 years ago

    Love it, Beautiful..

  • marcgounard

    Marc Gounard from marcgounard said 6 years ago

    Loving the shoes!! just dont step in too many puddles...thanks for the inspiration, googled" recycle cardboard furniture" and there is so much to do that can be very practical, cheap, fun and so much better that ikea.

  • abenakcreation

    Virpi Irene Bendandi from ABenakCreation said 6 years ago

    My children are very creative and when they were small cardboard boxes of all sizes were turned into castles, vehicles, helmets, shields etc. One time they got hold of several large appliance boxes and built an elaborate castle, that several children could play inside. We also made a doll house that was nice enough to give away as a present to some little girls. These "toys" encouraged creativity, were free, provided hours of fun and when finally no longer used, easily disposed without too much remorse.

  • ShoppeDeziLu

    Desiree from ShoppeDeziLu said 6 years ago

    How fun. Love the Polaroid camera!

  • mkasonen

    Merle Kasonen from Mekadorn said 6 years ago

    My cat loves cardboard boxes the most. She designs them into new forms and things (maybe castles, mousetraps...I wouldn't know). Anyway, new design every day!

  • bigbluebed

    Alix Beech from Bigbluebed said 6 years ago

    Great ideas! I hope to make the ships at the after school club where I work. The children are amazingly inventive so I am sure they can think of things too. I do love the shoes.

  • hayleypearcey

    hayley from BabysGotCakeGifts said 6 years ago

    I love the desk organiser! so simple and functional. I save all of my cardboard to store my ribbons, lace trims and Bias tape. I just cut notches in the ends and wind away.

  • khateraahmad1

    Khatera Ahmad from Khatera9 said 6 years ago

    This is really cool. Congrats. There's a piece for everyone.

  • underneaththeoaktree

    Natalie Atkins from underneaththeoaktree said 6 years ago

    Cardboard - what dreams are made of.....who ever knew!

  • MagpieWorkshop

    Jeanne Berg from MagpieWorkshop said 6 years ago

    LOVE this feature. I am a cardboard horder. This has fuelled my imagination.

  • ASParkerJewellery

    Amy Sarah Parker from ASParkerJewellery said 6 years ago

    Wow cool! What Cool and creative projects! :D

  • emilyandauditchaos

    Emily Godden Audit Chaos said 6 years ago

    Cardboard is amazing, please check out my blog for cardboard briefcases, filing cabinet and typewriters:

  • LinaNstich

    Lina Rodogianni from LinaNstitch said 6 years ago

    Ok this is seriously AWESOME!!!

  • gescate

    Gino Escate from Gygante said 6 years ago

    Great Ideas! I'll definitely try some of these!

  • stoneaddict

    Dana Evans from danaevansstudio said 6 years ago

    These are great ;) Back when I was in architecture school, we made a LOT of cardboard (and chipboard) models. Wish I had kept some!!

  • MoonYoonits

    Norola Morgan from MoonYoonitsStudios said 6 years ago

    I do love me some paper, especially cardboard! Thanks for the awesome ideas!

  • CharmingShopLove

    Marissa Howes from CharmingShopLove said 6 years ago

    Incredible pieces! Love it!

  • honeycombstudio

    Courtney Hamill from honeycombstudio said 6 years ago

    Oh my god, that cardboard robot is out-of-control awesome! Now I'm eyeing all of my shipping boxes in a different light :)

  • Dogdohr

    Joanne Dohr from Dogdohr said 6 years ago

    Good ideas to use, especially during Spring break!

  • bunnyandclutch

    Megan Bustamante from BunnyandClutch said 6 years ago

    Too cool!

  • haedron

    Marcos Haedron said 6 years ago

    Awesome! I wish I could do something similar. If possible I would like to make butterflies panapana

  • AppieJackie

    Appie Jackie from Appixie said 6 years ago

    To this day I still use old boxes to make play areas for my cats. (although now some of them are at an age where they'd rather just sleep in them) I like to think of it as a "mini kitty city" because I had houses, a theatre, a grocery store, a hardware store, and all those sorts of things. It not only made a great area for them to hang out (old towels, t-shirts, robes, or pillows I make filled with scrap fabric, all make for excellent beds) but it also gives me a creative way to hide away litter boxes and food and water bowls! Seeing all this made me want to build a new mini kitty city, only more elaborate! I'm thinking a little greenhouse (made out of leftovers from my own greenhouse) with catnip planted around it in little planters made out of some reclaimed barn wood!

  • haedron

    Marcos Haedron said 6 years ago

    Great idea! I wish I will use in my site to compose the art:

  • divinecartomancy

    Bren from PsychicBren said 6 years ago

    Oh My Goodness! Truly I would have never thought that you can create something so beautiful so unique with Card Board...... Typically, We burn Cardboard around This must take patience...Especially the chandelier......Oh my goodness.....If I tried to make something so sophisticated there would be a ton of Do Overs! Very inspiring.......Thank you for sharing your work....Just Gorgeous! Divine.

  • somethinspecial

    Sue Faunt from somethinspecial said 6 years ago

    Fun, I love it! Will definitely try these with my nieces!

  • thevicagirl

    VaLon Frandsen from thevicagirl said 6 years ago

    Cardboard is one of my favorite building materials. It is so versatile. My favorite craft I ever did working as a teacher's aid was the cardboard cars. Just two pieces of cardboard, some markers and hole punches for wheels, and I even had the teenagers making them. Love it.

  • yswlch

    zeng ming from luckycollection said 6 years ago

    It's sound great

  • BrooklynOwl

    Annie from BrooklynOwl said 6 years ago

    Wow! What fun ideas! Thank you!

  • glynniskillen

    Diane and Glynnis from DiGiJewels said 6 years ago

    Well, those are awesome creations! Great ideas... We look forward to trying one maybe two!!

  • FreakyPeas

    FreakyPeas from FreakyPeas said 6 years ago

    love the shoes!

  • collagical

    Cat from Collagical said 6 years ago

    Love it! Great ideas for upcycling your cardboard!

  • itsmesimon

    simon stratford from Itsmesimon said 6 years ago

    Cardboard rocks!

  • Mazizmuse

    Mazizmuse from Mazizmuse said 6 years ago

    It's too bad this man's art was not featured - you'd never know it was cardboard that he uses - AMAZING!!

  • halliefranco

    Hallie Franco from HallieJohanna said 6 years ago

    Never would have thought to make any of these! Cardboard can be a great medium, if you think to use it in the correct ways! My favorite was the hanging picture frames. So creative!

  • dornerfamilyjewels

    Linda Dorner from ActuallyPAPERBeads said 6 years ago

    I remember many hours my brothers and I spent building and designing 1001 things with cardboard through the years. If we weren't doing ornate castles it was western forts with cardboard rifles. One I dearly loved was a puppet theatre....turn it one way was perfect for hand puppets but the other way was for marionettes. I think I will have to see if my grandson wants to do that! I have some puppets I've saved just for that very thing. I'll let you know!

  • GrowingUpWild

    Kelly Engel from GrowingUpWild said 6 years ago

    Such awesome ideas to add to our repertoire! Looking forward to trying some of these out.

  • ArtsBrass

    Metta Haryanti from ArtsofBrass said 6 years ago

    creative and impressive. cardboard great!!

  • jesbrabers

    Jes Brabers from ikstempel said 6 years ago

    How cool are these projects!!! Well done to all cardboard-artists :-)

  • poplovedesigns

    Andrea Hughes from PopLoveHers said 6 years ago

    Eeee! Thank you for this, every time we order groceries we end up with a few spare boxes and it pains me to get rid of them. I think it's a leftover urge from when I was a kid, but something about cardboard boxes makes me feel like it's a crime to get rid of them - they've got just a bit of magic in them ;)

  • lizhutnick

    Liz Hutnick from LizHutnick said 6 years ago


  • deadsetbabes

    dead set babes from deadsetbabes said 6 years ago

    so much fun, thanks for sharing!!!!!!!

  • MerryDay

    Pavinee S from MerryDay said 6 years ago

    These are so inspiring. I have just done a DIY project using toothpaste boxes to make book jacket. I have some cardboard left too, will think about how to create something from it :)

  • amylcherry

    Amy Cherry from RootToVine said 6 years ago

    Such amazing creations!!!

  • eshannon12

    Eric Shannon from BigBarkerDogBeds said 6 years ago

    Wow. Super creative and super talented.

  • nitiparikh

    Niti from HAPPYcardboards said 6 years ago

    Started working with cardboard in Design School, but now I use it in all my product design! Truly my favorite material and easy to reclaim from local businesses too:-)

  • LindoRon

    ana garcia gonzalez del valle from LindoRon said 6 years ago

    great ideas!

  • madebymirjam

    Mirjam from madebymirjam said 6 years ago

    Like this..special the snug-vase

  • SustainableJacquelin

    SustainableJacquelin from SustainableJacquelin said 6 years ago

    :o) Thanks for sharing!

  • rarebeasts

    Brian McNamara from rarebeasts said 6 years ago

    That camera is so cool.

  • MissingTagVintage

    Caroline from MissingTagVintage said 6 years ago

    Cool stuff! So many amazing things to do with cardboard!

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