How to Build a Cardboard Desk

How to Build a Cardboard Desk

How to Build a Cardboard Desk


Building a cardboard desk can be a fun and affordable way to create a custom workspace. Cardboard is an inexpensive and versatile material that allows you to design a desk specifically tailored to your needs. With a few simple tools and techniques, I can make a sturdy cardboard desk that will serve as a convenient surface for working, studying, or computing.

Planning the Design

Before I start construction, I need to plan out the design. Here are some things I consider:

  • Intended use: Will this desk be used for computer work, art projects, home office tasks, or studying? The intended use will impact the design.

  • Size: Measure the space where the desk will go. I want the desktop size to fit the space appropriately. Standard desk height is 28-30 inches.

  • Shape: A simple rectangular desktop is easiest, but I can create other shapes for a customized look.

  • Features: Determine what features would be useful, like shelves, drawers, or a keyboard tray. Simplicity is best to start.

  • Aesthetics: Consider a decorative pattern or finish for the visible outer sides of the desk. Colored duct tape, paint, or wallpaper can customize the look.

Gathering Materials

To build a cardboard desk, I need:

  • Cardboard boxes and sheets
  • Utility knife or box cutter
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue (hot glue gun or craft glue)
  • Braces: Dowels, wooden sticks, or thin wood boards for support
  • Decorative materials (colored tape, paint, etc.) *optional
  • Sandpaper *optional

I want corrugated cardboard at least 1/4″ thick for the top and outer sides. The smooth cardboard found inside shipping boxes also works for the desktop surface. Gather enough large boxes and cardboard sheets to achieve the planned size.

Cutting the Cardboard Pieces

Now I can start cutting out the main components:

  • Desktop – Cut a large rectangular piece for the top work surface.
  • Side panels – Cut 4 pieces that are the height and depth of the desk.
  • Back panel – Cut 1 piece the width and height of the desk back.
  • Braces – Cut 2-3 dowels or wooden rods to fit tightly inside the desk box for front-to-back support.

Use the ruler and pencil to measure and mark straight cutting lines on the cardboard. Use the utility knife to cut along the lines through each layer of cardboard, making a few passes to cut all the way through. Change the blade as needed while cutting.

Tip: Place a cutting mat or wood board underneath when cutting to protect the floor.

Assembling the Frame

With the main pieces cut out, I can now assemble them into a box frame:

  1. Apply glue to the edges of the side panels.
  2. Attach the side panels to the back panel at 90 degree angles.
  3. Glue the front edges of the side panels together.
  4. Allow the glue to dry completely.
  5. Insert the braces horizontally along the inside bottom, spacing them evenly to support the desktop.

The braces prevent the cardboard box from sagging when weight is applied. I may need clamps, tape, or weights to hold the pieces together while the glue dries.

Adding the Desktop

Once the frame is assembled, I can attach the desktop:

  • Place the desktop piece on top to test the fit. Trim any overhanging edges.
  • Apply glue to the top edges of the desk box frame.
  • Place the desktop on the glue and press down firmly.
  • Use weights like books to weigh down the desktop while the glue dries. Allow several hours at least.

The desktop should form a sturdy bond with the supporting frame underneath.

Finishing Touches

To complete my new cardboard desk, I add some finishing touches:

  • Sand rough edges smooth using sandpaper.
  • Cover the outer sides with colored duct tape, contact paper, or spray paint for a finished look.
  • Stencil or draw designs onto the desktop surface with markers.
  • Add shelves or drawers as desired for storage.

The end result is a customized cardboard desk made completely from recycled materials! It can be painted, decorated, and modified to suit any space or style. With a simple carboard furniture design, I can create an eco-friendly workspace on a budget.

Maintaining a Cardboard Desk

My cardboard desk is lightweight and movable, but still requires some maintenance:

  • Avoid excessive moisture that can weaken cardboard. Use indoor spaces.
  • Reapply glue to joints if needed to reinforce loosening.
  • Replace desktop surface if it sags over time.
  • Repair damage right away with tape or glue.
  • Spot clean with damp cloth and wipe drips/spills quickly.
  • Consider applying clear sealer on desktop for durability.
  • Use protective pads under any equipment to prevent damaging the cardboard surface.

With proper care and reinforcement, a cardboard desk can last for several years! It’s an inexpensive and customizable workspace solution.


Building a desk from cardboard is an easy craft project that results in sturdy, functional furniture. With some simple tools, techniques, and a little creativity, I can construct a customized cardboard desk tailored to my needs. The end result provides an affordable, eco-friendly workspace that looks great and serves its purpose. With planning, patience, and these step-by-step instructions, anyone can build durable cardboard furniture.