Introduction: Cardboard Shelves & Storage

Picture of Cardboard Shelves & Storage

I like free, easy, earth friendly, and practical projects. So this instructable is in that vein.
Make shelves and storage options with free existing cardboard boxes. You can turn it up a notch by painting or using contact paper to decorate the boxes if you choose to spend the extra time & resources, but for me simple works just fine. Also, sometimes the graphic on the boxes can actually be quite cool by itself.

This project makes going green easy. The material is readily available (for free), the equipment is basic if any, and the labor is minimal. The finished product is durable and still recyclable; my projects shown here have lasted more than a year with moderate use, and if I ever move, I'll just recycle the boxes and save on moving expenses and gas for the moving truck (reducing my carbon footprint).

Going green is very simple with a little imagination!

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Picture of Gather Supplies

Collect the appropriate boxes. A good source for boxes is your local BJs/Sams/Costco warehouse clubs. For this project I chose grape boxes, but you can pick any type of box to use as long as they are sturdy enough for what you plan to put in them. What is important is that the boxes are all the same so they can fit/stack together well.
Get out your handsaw or hacksaw, or anything that will allow you to cut through cardboard cleanly.

Step 2: Cut

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Mark the middle of each box and take a handsaw and cut each box into half.

Step 3: Complete

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Stack the cut halves and voila you have a shelf. Store your papers or shoes! In this picture I stack the half of the top box upside down to put my scanner on and use the rest to store my papers.

Step 4: Example 1

Picture of Example 1

Here is an example where I found a smaller box to use as a "drawer" in my shelf. You can then stick a label on each "drawer" to note contents.

Step 5: Example 2

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Here is my shoe rack. After a certain height you might have to reinforce it, but then I doubt anybody has as many shoes as me.

Step 6: "Just Right" Boxes 1

Picture of "Just Right" Boxes 1

If you don't want to use a handsaw you can find "just right" boxes. Here is a box I use to store my magazines.

Step 7: "Just Right" Boxes 2

Picture of "Just Right" Boxes 2

Another "just right" box. Here are the boxes I use to sort my laundry.

Step 8: "Just Right" Boxes 3

Picture of "Just Right" Boxes 3

Another "just right" box. Here are the boxes I use to sort my paper (shred, recycle, trash).


NathanDavidson (author)2016-04-25

I agree to take it up a notch and paint the cardboard boxes or cover them over with fabrics to liven up the whole storage shelving. Nevertheless, the idea is still remarkable though quite straightforward yet practical. I wonder how high you can really go to stack up your entire collection of shoes.

Pinky212 (author)2010-02-24

At last count, I had 43 pair, including fashion boots.  I really need this!!!

adidame (author)2009-07-22

I also would like good shoe storage. The best part is it is not plastic and my sweaty shoes can breathe. Thanks!

bcclear10 (author)2009-05-25

i need a shoe rack i gotta try this:-)glad i found this

chotii (author)2008-12-26

Interesting, though limited to lightweight things that merely need binning to tidy up (small toys, for instance, or stuffed animals, or shoes as shown). I think I'll make some for my closet to tidy up the out-of-size kids' shoes that are in the process of being grown into, or out of!!

humoogous (author)2008-09-15

I really like 'Just right Box 1'. I'd like to do this for the kids room some time.

InsaneMage (author)2008-06-24

Like Gomiboy said, a little paint can go a long way. Now if your concern are roaches or other cardboard bugs you can always use contact paper. :D

munchkiny2k (author)2008-06-11

I was just wondering, if we recycle cardboard boxes, how do we keep cockroaches away? I love all these ideas, expecially this one, but I couldn't stomach a roach in my home.

st (author)munchkiny2k2008-06-13

munchkiny2k, Usually, the items are in cans or very well wrapped in plastic boxes. Unless some customer breaks/spills something in the box, the boxes are usually very clean and quite new (the turnover at these places is tremendous). I have had no problems with any pests.

munchkiny2k (author)st2008-06-14

st Thank you. I feel better about doing these projects now. I can't wait to move into a new place and start doing some of these. I really like this one. I would put contact paper of wallpaper on all the boxes though.

StellaBean (author)2008-06-13

Great project!! You could really dress them up with some contact paper or wallpaper. You can often find misc. rolls of wallpaper at dollar stores or places like Big Lots or Job Lot. Sometimes places like Lowes or Home Depot has marked down rolls of discontinued designs.

TheWomanMonster (author)2008-06-05

Ooh! Love!! I was just thinking about doing something like this with old shoeboxes for makeup and what not storage.

bradpowers (author)2008-06-05

mmmm, drawers full of Tuna...

gomiboy (author)2008-06-05

Great use of materials! Some paint might make it even more appealing, but they're great in-closet storage as-is. Remember, November is coming, and with a presidential election that's sure to be contentious, there will be LOTS of road spam to harvest, to make even more durable, long-lasting shelving.

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More by st:Make your own "Cloche Dome" (individual plant greenhouse) with bonus pot saucer from recycled water cooler containers.Cardboard shelves & storage
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