Circular Cardboard Shadowbox (Hot-glue method)

Picture of Circular Cardboard Shadowbox (Hot-glue method)
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This mini cardboard shadowbox is a template for a much larger Circular Bookshelf.
Its durable and great for holding your most memorable and treasured miniature items.
When I'm able to find more cardboard, I'll put up images of the larger bookshelf, using these instructions.
In the meanwhile, enjoy the mini version!

It was based on an educated guess of how it MIGHT be constructed with -
lots of glue and a bit of planning. It took a couple hours only to glue. Then took just two days
to waterproof with DIY ingredients and decorate. 

The shape was greatly influenced by Elsa Paige bookshelf designs.

The construction concepts were learnt from Eric Guiomar.
Instead of using frets like Eric Guiomar likes to use,
I used polyurethane glue and external frets to give strong support to each shelf.

For visual learners, here is the speedy rundown of this instructable on video below.

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Step 1: What you will need

Picture of What you will need
A small cardboard box
Gummed watercolour tape
Metal ruler
Sharp cutter
Strong glue


Trace a circular object the preferred size of your shadowbox. Cut with sharp knife.

Draw with marker where you wish to glue the shelves.

Step 2: Bend Cardboard to Curves

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Cut rectangular pieces. 

The height of each piece will determine the depth of your box.

Bend over a tube shape or edge of a table to create a neat curve.

Step 3: Attaching Shelf Layer

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Use either hot glue or polyurethane glue, which will dry quickly under pressure, to join the rectangular pieces  to the circular backing.

Use gummed tape to cover holey edges.

Step 4: Decorating - Waterproofing

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This step is really important to create a waterproof product.

There are three layers - PVA, joint compound and paint.

1. The first layer is a 1:1 mix of pva glue and water. Cover the entire surface of your shadowbox, including the open holes. Leave to dry overnight.

AlexB50 made it!25 days ago

I'm almost finished with mine, just need to neaten up some of the painting...Thanks 50Theo, I copied your design, which worked really well :)

Thanks so much for this instructable - this shelf is the perfect thing to complete my room. The colours match my decor - a mural, ad three paintings, in blue, green and pink.

A few tips for anyone doing this project:

I just used PVA glue to stick the shelves down, and then papier mache to make it stronger, seems to work fine

I painted just the back of the shelves, not the walls; in hindsight, doing this is easier before you stick the shelves down, because then you don't get paint everywhere, which means you don't have to paint white paint over the walls again. In other words, plannign really helps, so you can do the hard bits first


Wow Great job!

50Theo1 year ago
50Theo1 year ago
Thank you !!!
pkan3 years ago
Can I use masking tape instead of gummed tape or is there any other substitute to gummed tape
Scriptone (author)  pkan3 years ago
Yes, you noticed how impossible masking tape is to remove off postage packs or cardboard boxes, that would make it a really sturdy join. Also the masking tape I would use is the brown lightweight, plasticky type rather than the yellow papery type sometimes comes off.
pkan3 years ago
do I really need the gummed tape and can I just make a larger version and glue it inside a box
mollybermea3 years ago
so I love this and it's starting to get a lot of attention over on Pinterest btw...

I am confused by your images and content. You say it's a small version of what the big one looks like.... the brown and very nice looking finished one looks like a large wall version with shelves that will at least hold cd size items/books.

Is that the full version finished?? I can't tell. THe video only seems to finish up the blue version which looks quite rough.

Would love to make this... just wanted to know how you got such a beautiful finish on the brown larger (I am assuming) version.

Thanks! New to this site, finally signed up. - Molly
Scriptone (author)  mollybermea3 years ago
hi! the unpainted full sized shelf is by Elsa Paige. My blue version looks pretty rustic because I covered it with unusual watercolour tape, (as I wanted to quickly make this instructable).

It is quite small, around 60cm wide and can fit light items. Hence shadowbox!

To have a neater finish I would do the edges properly with another type of watercolour tape.

If you wanted to make the larger one for books the link above shows another French Artist who uses 3 lots of 3 ply cardboard for an ultra strong cupboard. Everything is support by the strong glue you need to attach shelves and surrounding cardboard to the BACKING. good luck!
tyro474 years ago
Hi, first I have to say that I absolutely love the bookshelf. It is a splendid take on an a mundane piece of furniture. Love It!

I was just wondering, what deviations/alterations you made in the preparation of the bookshelf vs the mini-shadow box?
Scriptone (author)  tyro474 years ago

the difference between the mushroom bookshelf and the circular one is the central curve which greatly supports the whole structure.

I think its a lot stronger than the mushroom one.

I tried to add lots of layers to make it stronger. This is the replacement for Eric Guiomar struts technique.

Otherwise, I think that circular shapes tend to be stronger than straight edged boxy types.