Introduction: 5 Piece Cardboard Lounge Chair

Picture of 5 Piece Cardboard Lounge Chair

This lounge chair is made entirely out of cardboard! No fasteners, no glued joints, just friction and slots. With two and a half 4'X4' sheets of heavy duty cardboard, paper templates, and a box cutter, you can make this comfortable and sturdy piece in a few hours.

Step 1: Design

Picture of Design

I went with the Barcelona Pavillion Chair's dimensions as a starting point. Chair design is such a dense topic that I've been sticking with the posture and dimensions of this chair as a way to focus on material and structure experimentation. Also, I find the chair to be really comfortable. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

After deciding on the general parameters of the chair, I moved on to thinking about assembly. Since cardboard is rigid and flexible, I didn't see any reason to use glue or fasteners for the joints. I designed the chair to be press-fit with slot joints, hoping that the friction between the parts and the semi-rigidity of the planes would keep everything in place.

After measuring the thickness of the cardboard, I came up with a few iterations in the computer before I decided on one. The last iteration seemed the best one to me for a number of reasons. I was inspired by Chairigami for this project, and it looked to me like this was they way they were making their awesome furniture.

  1. With this design, none of the parts are longer than 47 inches when cut out, which means I was able to work with 4X4 sheets instead of larger ones.
  2. It seemed the most rigid since it had four slot joint locations instead of three.
  3. I liked it better from an aesthetic point of view- it seemed more balanced in the side profile.

The Fusion 360 file is attached in this step in case you want to make your own tweaks to the design. It's free for students and hobbyists, and there's a ton of educational support on it. If you want to learn to 3D model the kind of work I do, I think this is the best choice on the market. Click the links below to sign up:



Step 2: Laminating & Cutting

Picture of Laminating & Cutting

To get a really sturdy result, I decided to make my own 3-ply sheets. When I was done with the project, I found out you can just buy it that way! Here's a link to it at Uline.

The "template" PDF file can be printed to scale and serve as a template that you can stick to the surface and follow with a box cutter. The DWG file is a CAD file that can be used for lastercutting or any other CNC cut.

I used out Metabeam laser cutter for most of this project, but I'm demonstrating here how to do it by hand. It's totally doable with a straight edge and a boxcutter with templates, it's just takes longer. Here are the steps for doing it by hand:

  1. Cut down the 5X10 sheets of cardboard to manageable sizes (no more than 48" in either dimension).
  2. Go Jackson Pollock with a tube of glue on one side of a sheet.
  3. Press on the next sheet. IMPORTANT: the corrugation needs to be oriented in the same direction on all the sheets your'e laminating. This allows you to crease it without much trouble.
  4. Repeat step 3, then put something heavy and flat (like a 1/2 sheet of 3/4" plywood) for a few hours.
  5. Print the templates at full scale, 1:1. The sheets are 4X4, which any professional print shop that does construction printing will be able to handle. You can either get the prints on cheap bond paper and use Super 45 spray glue to attach them for cutting, or you can print on sticky back material, like I did here.
  6. Use a good straight edge and a sharp box cutter, and cut out the pieces. You'll get straighter cuts with a fresh blade, so for best results replace the blade frequently.

Step 3: UPDATE: Creasing Jig

Picture of UPDATE: Creasing Jig

Coolteper asked for some more info on the creasing jig. I didn't document making it, but the drawing in this step should explain it pretty clearly.

There are two parts: the block that you clamp to the table and the arm that pivots on a bolt through the block.


The block is made of three 3/4" plywood pieces: one 3/4" X 6" X 6" piece for the middle and two 3/4" X 6" X 12" pieces that make the sides. The gap in the middle is for the arm to slot into.


The arm is a piece of 3/4" plywood that's 6" deep by about 48" long. There's a an angled cut at the pivoting end so it doesn't bind to the block and a 45º miter cut along the length of the arm. This cut gives you a sharp edge to do the creasing. There's a bolt through drilled holes in the block and arm that the arm pivots on. I used a 1/4"Ø bolt for this and a locknut to keep it from unscrewing on its own.

I used a pressure clamp to attach the block to the work table and adjusted it so that the edge is perfectly flush with the table.

Step 4: Creasing

Picture of Creasing

To get the creases even and clean, I whipped up the creasing jig shown in the photos. It's just 3 pieces of plywood with a gap in the middle, and a bolt through a hole in the top that turns the arm into a lever. The arm has a 45º miter on its edge (that I cut on the table saw) that makes for a nice sharp crease.

I clamped it to the table so that the edge was flat on the table top, and used it to make the creases. This part's really easy and goes very quickly.

Step 5: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

Assembly is the easy part! All you have to do is align the folded surfaces with the proper slots and put them together. Each piece makes it sturdier, and when you insert the last one you end up with a rock solid chair made of paper!

The pieces only fit together one way, and the creases (obviously) have to be edge-out, so you can't mess this up if everything was cut properly.

Step 6: Finished Product

Picture of Finished Product

The chair is very sturdy


erp7031 (author)2017-12-08

How do we print to do the chair?

what do we print and how?

JON-A-TRON (author)erp70312017-12-09

Print the PDF files provided in step 2 at any print shop that will do large format printing (Kinko's in the US will do it). Print the sheets on 48" X 48" paper at 100% scale and they will be the correct size. If they can't do exactly 48" X 48", any sheet size that's bigger than that will work as long as they print the PDF files at 100% scale.

alkalah74 (author)2017-07-19

Perfecto amigo

MasterJ10 (author)2017-03-21

i really love the design, but i can't get to a print shop and autocad is not being very nice right now
do you by any chance have the dimensions yet?
i really need them
thanks :D

dasnervt (author)2017-01-23

Great design! I've problems to figure out the
dimensions, there are three PDF. Two of them have a paper size of
1219x1219 mm and the other one just 216x279 mm; I've just looked into
the properties with my PDF viewer. So on what scale should I print the
templates? You read something about templates and sheets but I don't
get it... :D ... If I would know the size of paper I have to print the
three templates on it would help me a lot! Thanks for sharing your design!

Sharonay (author)2016-10-10


It looks like a lovely design however as a senior with back issues I need something straight backed or slanting slightly forward. I it possible to tweek the design with that in mind or would I have to start all over? Sharonspearls

JON-A-TRON (author)Sharonay2017-01-19

You could tweak it to make the back come forward, but you'd need to adjust all the dimensions to make this work.

Friderik made it! (author)2017-01-10

Thank you very much for this cardboard chair :D. I made several mistakes but I can to sit :D. I used the Autocad file, measures after measures. It was long but I'm very happy :D

JON-A-TRON (author)Friderik2017-01-19

Well done! I like your take on it with the back leg.

ManjunathP (author)2016-09-08

Do you have dimensions for the templates as i want to draw on the sheets directly and cut

JON-A-TRON (author)ManjunathP2016-09-08

Sorry, I don't have time to dimension out every part.

If you want dimensions, you can download the AutoCAD (in step 2) file and use the free DWG Viewer:

With that program, you can measure the parts yourself and lay out the cuts by hand if you'd rather do it that way. Hope this helps!

Nidhjin (author)2016-06-01

Thanks for sharing this! Great design job! Will be very helpful for a lot of people for sure!

Louie CarloD made it! (author)2016-05-20

Made it!! Very sturdy and nice to look at :)) Will be using as our final requirement in a math subject ^_^

JON-A-TRON (author)Louie CarloD2016-05-20

Awesome! Tell me more about your math subject!

Kaitlyn3 (author)2016-05-02

What would the dimensions be for a sheet of cardboard that is 4x7?

JON-A-TRON (author)Kaitlyn32016-05-02

The dimensions wouldn't change. The three PDFs in the instructable are for 4X4 sheets, so if you're working with 4X7 sheets you'll just have leftovers.

Fleder (author)2016-03-31

Really great, i love this!

It is really expensive to get cardboard that big here, where i live and 47 inches is pretty big. So, may i alter your plans and split some of those parts into smaller ones? Like the rest and seating parts?

JON-A-TRON (author)Fleder2016-03-31

That seems feasible- what sheet sizes are available where you are?

MasterP5 (author)2016-03-24

Thanks a lot !!!

JON-A-TRON (author)2015-12-17

I don't know off the top of my head. All of the parts can be cut from three 4'X4' pieces of 3-ply corrugated cardboard. The templates are all you'll need.

TylerT21 (author)JON-A-TRON2015-12-17

Ok thanks

jclardy1 (author)2015-07-10

these are the boxes i have

JON-A-TRON (author)jclardy12015-12-17

Sorry it took so long to reply! I think you're going to have a hard time with used boxes. You're better off buying sheets at a shipping supply place (they're usually about $15 for a 4'X8').

jclardy1 (author)2015-07-10

i have a bunch shipping.boxes is there any way this???? please reply. thanks ahead

JON-A-TRON (author)2015-07-06

armchair_enthusiast, good idea! First, you'd need to make sure the thickness of the plastic was the same as the cardboard- the dimensions of the slots all depend on the thickness of the material.

I was spending a lot of time at Techshop while Anton was prototyping the OruKayak, and one thing I noticed was that he was using the shopbot to cut out the top layer and the ribs of the material in order to get more steep folds.

This could be a problem if you were trying to make a fold across three sheets. On the other hand, corrugated plastic sheet is a lot more sturdy, so you probably wouldn't need multiple layers. The templates I've provided here will only work if the thickness is the same as the cardboard I used, so you'd need to redesign it.

Hope this helps!

armchair_enthusiast (author)2015-07-06

This looks great! Would this work as well using corrugated plastic instead? This is the stuff that US postal bins (and the Oru kayak) are made of. That would make it rainproof, and longer lasting.

DoctorDIY (author)2015-06-26

what are the dimensions of each piece?
i cant open the file attached to the instructable

JON-A-TRON (author)DoctorDIY2015-06-26

There should be 3 PDF files now, you can open those in Adobe Reader. They don't have dimensions on them since they're meant to be printed at full size, stuck to the cardboard with Super 45 spray adhesive, and cut out that way.

If you want dimensions, you can download the AutoCAD (in step 2) file and use DWG Viewer:

With that (free) program, you can measure the parts yourself and lay out the cuts by hand if you'd rather do it that way. Hope this helps!

emmajg (author)JON-A-TRON2015-07-03

I've opened the PDF files and they're not to scale on my pc and I've imported the dwg file in to our cad software and the width of the board is measuring at 23mm if you could let me know the width of the chair I can scale the pieces many thanks

JON-A-TRON (author)emmajg2015-07-04

The seat, back, and leg pieces are all the same width, 23". See the picture attached here.

AikkuL (author)JON-A-TRON2015-06-29

Hi, I can't open the file either. I have PDF but that is not PDF file.

Cool chair and very ecological. Thank you!

Greetings from Helsinki

JON-A-TRON (author)AikkuL2015-06-29

Thanks for the compliment! The files should be up now in Step 2. Remember the units for the PDF files are inches!

AikkuL (author)JON-A-TRON2015-07-02

Okay, thank you! :)

I think I could try to do it as a doll size first and if it works then I could try normal size since I'd need a lot of heavy board for that. :)

JON-A-TRON (author)DoctorDIY2015-06-26

Sorry about that- Just uploaded the 2nd and 3rd template to Step 2. You should have all the templates you need now. Please post and iMadeIt!

emmajg (author)2015-07-02

Love it. Will see if i can make at work we have a cutting table and lots of board :)

ianheavy (author)2015-06-30

I think this is a great project, what would be fun if companies that pack large items put your design printed on the inside of the cartons to make a chair.

leo.cardoso.564 (author)2015-06-29

Hello. I really enjoyed the project.You can support up to how much weight? Thanks.

You'd be surprised at how much weight it can take. I tested it to about 280 LB (114 KG), and I would guess that it could take up to 350 LB (160 KG).

awia7 (author)2015-06-28

Fantastic recyclable chair I will definitely make

JON-A-TRON (author)awia72015-06-29

Please do! And post an iMadeIt if you'd be so kind.

awia7 (author)JON-A-TRON2015-06-29

Thanks definitely will do

YaënD (author)2015-06-28

Supa Great ! I Love this, I'm gonna find some cardboard in trash.

JON-A-TRON (author)YaënD2015-06-29

Awesome! Remember to make sure the corrugation goes in the same direction when you glue the pieces together.

vermilk (author)2015-06-29

I once made the mistake of calling this material "cardboard" in front of a group of people who make "cardboard" for a living. I deeply insulted them (no joke). They were quick to correct me that what I was referring to was "corrugated board". Thought you would appreciate some humor to go with your "5 Piece Corrugated Board Lounge Chair" instructable!

JON-A-TRON (author)vermilk2015-06-29

Good to know. I've made mistakes like that with plastics people before- they lose respect for you immediately.

mgomes11 (author)2015-06-29


JON-A-TRON (author)mgomes112015-06-29


awia7 (author)2015-06-28


KorinaH (author)2015-06-28


EvgenR (author)2015-06-24

it looks really nice, good work!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a full-time Designer at the Instructables Design Studio (best job ever). My background is in residential architecture, film set design, film animatronics, media ... More »
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