Simple knock-down cardboard end table (flat pack)

Picture of Simple knock-down cardboard end table (flat pack)
This is a relatively easy to make, knock-down (flatpack) end table made from one cardboard box (it could also be made from multiple boxes or pieces as well). There are four pieces held together with slots, as well as simple mortise and tenon type holes.

I am posting this as I could not find any other cardboard tables on Instructables that can be taken apart (for storage or transporting). I made this one temporarily for my  kids to use prior to a recent move, and it has now been repurposed as a smaller end table for a spare bedroom.
*I have uploaded a Sketchup 3D file used for the diagrams.

Materials used
- One large 3-ply cardboard box (80W x 64H x 23D cm)
- Wood glue (any normal glue should suffice)

Tools used
- Pencil
- Straight edge (solid metal ruler)
- Utility knife (boxcutter with breakable blades)
- Cutting mat (I used the self-healing type)
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Step 1: Fitting the layout onto the cardboard box

Picture of Fitting the layout onto the cardboard box
I used just one large box ((80W x 64H x 23D cm), but this table could also of course be made from multiple boxes or pieces of cardboard.
This particular box was made from 3-ply cardboard which is quite heavy duty (7.5 mm thick). Doubled up it was 1.5 cm thick.
If you are using thinner cardboard (e.g. single layer type), I would recommend using at least 3 layers so it has some strength.
*For the legs, make sure the corrugated "flutes" are vertical (if they are horizontal it can collapse easily).

In the first illustration (front of the box) you can see two tabs at the bottom of both leg pieces.
The tabs will fit into holes in the bottom of the table top, like a mortise and tenon system (see the second illustration, shows the table top, with holes for the tabs). *I did not cut out the holes for the tabs until immediately before assembling.
The horizontal support piece slots into both legs.
You can adjust the length and width of pieces to accommodate the box or cardboard pieces you have available.
canuckinjapan (author) 5 months ago

Hi Tweetyb1,

Feel free to use this design for your project.
If you don't have 2-ply or 3-ply cardboard available, I would recommend at least gluing two layers together, as one layer of cardboard will not provide sufficient strength. Good luck!

I see dimensions and measurements for the box, but not for the individual pieces? Also the sketchup file, is this just for 3d reference or is there some type of dimensions available in the file? I opened it but it just seems to be a fancy 3d look at the pieces with no real-time reference to the size of each piece ? Please do help me to figure this out, I'd love to make the table but I am clearly missing something here. Thanks. :)

canuckinjapan (author)  Saiber77.17 days ago

@Saiber77 - The Sketchup file is just for reference. I put dimensions of the box in
the illustration to give an idea of the box size that I used, but if you
have Sketchup, you can use the tape measure tool to get the exact

LoL, my bad... I just realized I was using Sketchup viewer.... eyeroll....
No wonder I could not find the tape tool.

What name would you like us to use in the acknowledgments?

thanks so much

Tweetyb15 months ago

hello @canuckinjapan i am currently in school and am required to produce a science fair project. would you mind if I used your concept of a cardboard desk and embellished on it for my project. (I will acknowledge you of course)

Please reply as i need your permission to do so otherwise i can be accused of plagarism.

how much weight can this hold?

canuckinjapan (author)  constructiveMedia11 months ago

It depends on the thickness of the cardboard, and the size. I used triple-ply cardboard which is quite strong, and folded it over so it's six layers in total. It could probably hold 10 - 15 lbs (4 - 7 kg) I suppose.

rnola1 year ago
effiesque2 years ago
Absolutely epic. So many ways you can use this....
22tpring3 years ago
EXCELLENT project and I love the additional picture of the crayon holder added by another. LOVE cardboard furniture (is it a disease?)
Very nice. I love doing simple things like this with cardboard.
canuckinjapan (author)  jessyratfink3 years ago
Thanks. I try to recycle whenever possible.
Here is another example of a cardboard box that got new life as a pencil crayon holder for my daughter's 500 piece set.
EarningH3 years ago