Introduction: Paper Container

Picture of Paper Container

Very low cost folded paper container, for holding small items (such as screws) during repair, assembly, construction etc.

Can also be used as an envelope for carrying items securely.

It's disposable, recyclable, sustainable, environmentally friendly plus widely and freely available.

Step 1: Making a Paper Square From a Rectangular Sheet

Picture of Making a Paper Square From a Rectangular Sheet

Take a rectangular sheet of paper. In America this could come from a legal pad, or in Europe an A4 notepad.

You are going to use basic paper folding techniques to crop it square.

Use your finger/thumb nails to form sharp, straight creases. If your nails are too short, use the edge of something like a credit card or a plastic ruler.

Step 2: First Corner Fold

Picture of First Corner Fold

Turn down the top right corner, aligning the short edge of the paper accurately with the left, long edge.

If you have made a paper aeroplane, or tried some basic Origami, this move should be famliar to you. Or you may be lucky enough to have some square paper already.

Step 3: Folding the Waste Piece

Picture of Folding the Waste Piece

Open out the diagonal fold you have just made.

Turn up the bottom short edge to make a horizontal fold. This should be parallel to the top edge of the paper. A square will be created when this horizontal fold intersects the bottom right end of the first diagonal crease.

Step 4: Tear Off a Strip

Picture of Tear Off a Strip

Open out the paper, then remove the waste portion, leaving a square with only one crease in it, the diagonal one. Tear or cut, as you prefer. If tearing, don't worry about any slightly rough edges.

(If you were making a paper aeroplane, the piece you are now discarding would form its tail).

Step 5: Diamond Shape

Picture of Diamond Shape

Rotate the square to form a diamong shape, with the single crease horizontal.

Step 6: Triangle

Picture of Triangle

Lift the bottom point of the diamond up, to meet the top point.

Crease the centre fold sharply.

Step 7: Left Side

Picture of Left Side

Bring the left point of the triangle across to meet and stop at the right, sloping edge. Keep what was the lower left edge of the double skin of paper parallel to the base of the triangle.

Step 8: Right Side

Picture of Right Side

Repeat the previous step, but this time do it for the right side, bringing it over and on top of the left side flap.

Make all the creases sharp, to keep the flaps in place as much as they will. Thinner papers will behave better than thick ones at this stage.

Step 9: Front Top Flap

Picture of Front Top Flap

Fold the top front flap down, over the two side flaps, keeping the fold in line with the points at each side, creasing it sharply to hold them in place. The point will line up with the apex of the small triangle which has appeared by itself at the base of the container.

The top front flap locks things down.

Step 10: Rear Flap

Picture of Rear Flap

Turn the whole assembly over and fld down the rear flap.

The container is flat at tis stage and you are going to open it out, gently, and squeeze it into a cup shape, or a truncated cone, rather like the ones used in some office drinking water dispensers.

Step 11: Dent the Base

Picture of Dent the Base

Push your thumb into the base of the container, to make a dimple. It may help to put two or three fingers into the mouth of the cup, to oppose the force of your thumb pushing the paper in..

Step 12: Squeeze Into Shape

Picture of Squeeze Into Shape

Squeeze the folded seams of the sides of the container together, making a cup shape.

The conainer is not free-standing but will lean quite happily against something else.

It's now ready to store those pesky little parts that would otherwise roll off the bench onto the carpet and get lost. You can write notes on it to help you re-assemble things.

Step 13: Envelope

Picture of Envelope

You can squash the container back down almost flat, while keeping its contents inside. Bring the top rear flap over the meet the front flap, forming an envelope.

You can stick the flap down for greater security in transit.

This container has many uses. With the right paper, it will even hold water long enough for you to drink from.

You might also try making some of these from larger sheets of paper, such as newsprint. With the appropriate choice of materials, you can easily fashion silly hats, or create temporary plant pots for example.


AyricaL made it! (author)2016-05-16

Thank you! I needed a small co Rainer for chocolates and have nothing in the jet! Perfect little cup! ✈️

peterbryenton (author)AyricaL2016-08-02

Neat solution, thanks.

alund5 made it! (author)2015-10-31

super simple quick container ?

Puzzledd (author)2011-01-09

Great 'ible, thanks, with very clear and thorough instructions. .. and what good comments, too :)

peterbryenton (author)Puzzledd2011-01-10

Thank you.

Ninzerbean (author)2010-03-03

Very easy directions to follow though I am sure they were far from easy to write out. I was able to make my cup happily stand up just by folding the little points on the bottom inwards, though it will probably fall down if I put too much in to it. This is great and thank you for sharing.

peterbryenton (author)Ninzerbean2010-03-03

Thank you. Glad yours stood up on its points.

There are some useful suggestions amngst the comments about this 'ible.

josefu0 (author)2008-08-08

it like a cup.

peterbryenton (author)josefu02008-08-09

Yes, it's a paper cup too, thanks josefu0.

yokonga (author)2008-05-13

that's cool...

jukie (author)2008-01-20

I haven't read through all the comments so I don't know if these things have been mentioned, but I make these for my kids' snacks sometimes and don't have time to cut or tear off the bottom of the magazine page that I've used. So I just leave it attached (keep it folded up and just continue with the folding. Also, I don't use tape and it holds just fine.

peterbryenton (author)jukie2008-01-20

Thanks. Your snack sacks also sound like a good way to encourage young readers. Peter

Mintyhippo (author)2008-01-16

i have been making these since 3 years ago! I was just about to post mine until i saw this. Mine has a cup holder, should i still post?

peterbryenton (author)Mintyhippo2008-01-18

Of course you should post. The great wonder of people is their different approaches to the same ideas. I look forward to seeing your version. Regards, Peter Bryenton

Mintyhippo (author)peterbryenton2008-01-18

thanks, and i will give you partial credit if you want.

Phoenix2602 (author)2007-10-23

These would be great for holding your dice at an RPG gaming session!

Especially if your character was a magician called Origami.

AdamK (author)2007-08-09

Great instructable. I tried printer paper when I did this, only to find that it leaked through the paper itself. I then discovered that I could filter sugar water (but not salt water) with my make-shift filtering cup. Could be a very useful application by chemists if they have the right type of paper. Or even to drain starch out of pasta? Haha

peterbryenton (author)AdamK2007-09-18

Shame about the salt water: I suddenly had a vision of a gigantic, eco-friendly ocean-based desalination plant.

mailkd7 (author)2007-08-10

I just made it, and I am eating Cheesz-Its Out of it right now. Good Instructable! Mmm.... Cheese...

peterbryenton (author)mailkd72007-09-18

Ah, the old calorie-free container with the calorie-loaded filling trick, eh?

blooper (author)2007-03-14

woo-hoo! let's hear it for silly paper hats!

Tomton (author)blooper2007-07-18


gnose (author)2007-07-05

if youre using it for drinking/food and the sheet you have is printed on one side: when you reach step 6 make sure the printed on side faces outwards. when youre done, the inside surface of the cup is blank :)

I HACK (author)2007-05-18

lol great idea thanks

lifelong-newbie (author)2007-05-06

Brilliant idea
Tried it at home went into the kitchen, i managed to refill it from tap 8 times, and after that the only damage was a small leak from the bottom, i can imagine this was only bec8ause the water from the tap was hitting it hard. 8 times refill from standardd white A4 paper. Genius.

Good, thanks.

PVC marxman (author)2007-05-02

when Im thirsty in school i use these lol

Me too.

Cornflower (author)2007-05-02

Used the idea for years. Just to add to it, you can get away without the tape if you flip the right side (step 8) behind the cup, not over the left side, and then in steps 9 and 10 you can tuck the top flaps inside the right and left flaps with the whole thing holding together.

Another thing, I sometimes make a second one out of wax paper or tin foil if I need a drink of water, and put it inside the paper one. Kept the two in my back pocket when visiting another city a few years ago.

peterbryenton (author)Cornflower2007-05-03

Elegant solutions, thank you. Peter Bryenton

origamimavin (author)2007-02-24

you know, it wouldn't last too long, but that can also hold water. if you make it out of wax paper or something, it'd hold for a while. the only thing keeping it from holding it longer is whatever paper you use.

Good suggestion, thanks.

iPodTouchMaster08 (author)2007-04-01

WATER CAN GO IN THIS!!!!!!! no i'm serious..

Yes, the wax paper comment here is so much "greener" than plastic cups. Folds back flat again too, for re-use: sustainable!

gowithflo (author)2007-03-30

I think this would be great for starting seedlings in too, then just plant right in the soil. I'm going to try it.

peterbryenton (author)gowithflo2007-04-02

Thanks: yours is one of the most unusual suggestions I've heard about this in years. I'll tell my friends at the local college of horticulture what you said. Let me know how your seedlings turn out -- maybe some pictures too? Peter Bryenton

Ben.land101 (author)2007-02-12


Thank you.

blindmen (author)2007-02-11

very good and usefull idea

peterbryenton (author)blindmen2007-02-12

Thank you.

lucashaley (author)2007-02-06

You can make these free-standing by folding the bottom corners into the middle. They then stand quite nicely. Great tutorial!

peterbryenton (author)lucashaley2007-02-06

Thank you. I'll have a go, then photograph & publish the result.

Jackie (author)2007-01-21

That is Great . Can't wait to show my Grandson.

The Leo (author)2007-01-07

It's a very neat solution. It shouldn't be too hard to make it free-standing. After denting in the base, flatten the points into triangles and fold them up to the base. Pinch round the corners to make them more defined. If you push the dent up more this may work better.

peterbryenton (author)The Leo2007-01-08

Useful suggestion, thanks. I tried it this morning and your ideas worked well.

Trans_Am (author)2007-01-06

Definite thumbs up.

peterbryenton (author)Trans_Am2007-01-07


trinit (author)2007-01-05

That piece of tape isn't necessary. The side flaps are open at the top; you can actually tuck the top flap into this opening. This simple extra step keeps the sides from unfolding and makes the final product look significantly better.

peterbryenton (author)trinit2007-01-06

Excellent point. I tried your suggestion and it worked pefectly, thanks. I like the idea of sharing stuff here, then getting something positive back, quite unexpectedly.

About This Instructable




More by peterbryenton:A Safer Rotary Cutter Edge Guide for SewingPhone camera macro setupSmartphone  eCards
Add instructable to: