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How To: Make Lumber out of Cardboard

Written By: DW_Wood - Feb• 11•11

How To: Make Lumber out of Cardboardboxes for making cardboard lumberThis falls under the category of “this is so cool, how come I never thought of it”. Now before we get into it, lets make it clear you will not be creating lumber that you can build a house with. It should work well for light tables, chairs, shelves that won’t hold alot of weight and I think it may be perfect for building a ground level playhouse for the kids.

Materials List:

* lots of cardboard

* lots and lots of glue (wallpaper paste will also work and is affordable)

* a saw, preferably powered to save on labor

Gather Your Cardboard:

You will need a good amount of cardboard. Of coarse the amount will be determined by how much lumber you want to create. After seeing the entire post and what is needed to make various size pieces, you will have a better idea on the amount of cardboard you will need.

Cardboard is one of those materials that you can most definitely get for free and in large amounts. Places to visit are any corner store, grocery story, liquor shop, furniture store, appliance center, Walmart or any store you can think of. The retailers are only going to send it our for recycling anyway. So in most cases they will not have a problem with you recycling it for them at the same time giving you the material you need for your lumber. Always be sure to tell the retailer your getting the cardboard from what it will be used for. Knowing that it will be going into a “green” project will make them all that more willing to help you out.

Lets Get Started Already:

1) Cut your cardboard in to manageable widths as seen in the picture below.

cutting cardboard to make lumber

2) Stack the cardboard till you get the desired height

3) Mix your glue. If you are using a powered glue or paste, now is the time to mix it up. Start by mixing up at least a gallon. In the original instructions, it was suggested you could buy wood glue by the gallon at your local hardware store and dilute it with water to a ratio of 1:1. Which ever glue you choose, try to only mix up what you think you can use to save on waste. Of coarse this determination of the exact amount needed will come with practice and experience as you add to your cardboard lumber collection.

4) Lay out your cardboard in your basement, garage or yard and using a paint roller start gluing the top side of your project. Carefully lay the next piece on top of the glued one and then glue the top of that piece and repeat till you used up all your pre-measured amount of cardboard.

Note: I would suggest putting each layer of the cardboard facing a different direction. This should give it strength as this is the same process used in making plywood.

gluing cardboard for lumber

5) Once you reached your desired thickness, clamp your project down using clamps on a table, or I what I find best is to lay a big piece of plywood over the top and then loading it up with weights evenly across the surface. Read the instructions on the glue you are using for drying times, then give it another hour or two past that just to be safe.

6) Using a straight edge, level or T-square, measure and cut your new lumber block into the finished length and width you desire.

cutting your cardboard lumber

That’s it your done. You know have strong lumber made from recycling cardboard!

Here is a picture of a table project that was made with the cardboard lumber.

table made from cardboard lumber

This how to I originally found on and you can click on the link/name to see more great pictures and comments on this project. Credit for the pictures also goes to the author of the posts on

So there you have it, free lumber (almost) with little effort on your part. Now your lumber is ready for you to build with.

If you try to make your own cardboard lumber, comment here and let us know how you made out and any suggestions for improvements you might have.

Someone in another site I belong to posted this boat made of cardboard. Check it out!

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One Comment

  1. It’s amazing how people can see so many different views on things,keeps it interesting.