Introduction: Cardboard Desk Lamp: DIY, Easy and Functional

The idea behind this lamp is to re-use a cardboard box and create and adjustable desk lamp with minimal tools. This is a simple and useful project that takes around 2-3 hours and everybody can replicate at home with low budget.


  • Big cardboard box (22 ¾ X 18 X6 inches or approx. 56x48x17 centimeters)
  • Large Rule or Square(better) – I used 24in (approx. 61cm) square
  • Regular Rule or square(better) – I used 8(approx. 20 cm) in square that
  • Cutter
  • Pencil
  • White Glue
  • White L.E.D. strip and power supply (If you want, you can use an RGB LED strip and controller that is normally included with the strip.)
  • 1 bolt of 1 ¼ in. large (I use bolt with diameter 8) + 2 wahers + 1 nut
  • Screwdriver of the same type of your bolt
  • Drill and drillbit of the same diameter of your screw.

Step 1: Cutting the Parts


Unfold the box in a surface that you can use to cut (I did it on the floor).


Using the pencil and large square draw the following elements on the cardboard and cut them:

  • 2 rectangles of 20 x 2 in. (approx. 50 x 5 cm) - Center of the long arm
  • 2 rectangles of 22 x 2 in. ((approx. 55 x 5 cm)) – Top and bottom of the long arm
  • 2 rectangles of 16 x 1 ½ in. (approx. 40 x5 cm) – Center of the short arm
  • 2 rectangles of 14 x 1 ½ in (approx. 50 x5 cm) – Top and bottom of the short arm
  • 1 rectangle x 14 x ¾ in – Support for L.E.D. strip
  • 6 squares of 6 inches by 6 inches - Clamp

Step 2: Measure Your Desk

Before to cut and glue the final form of the clamp(C shape), you need to know the height of the tabletop of your desk. For example, my desk is 5 centimeters high (approx. 2 inches).

Step 3: Creating the Clamp/base


In one of the 6 squares, from one of the sides draw a rectangle of 6in (10 cm) width by the height of measure you took from your desk (for me, it is 2in or 5cm). See pictures "Step3 A" and "Step3 A second picture".


Cut the rectangle drawn in the square, to create a C shape form. See picture "Step3 B".

Verify if this C shape can be attached to your desk, this should not be inserted by applying excessive force or bending the cardboard. Also, the C shape should be stable enough to keep itself stable in the desk. If the shape is to tight or loose, you would need to adjust the size by cutting more material or redrawing and cutting a new one square and giving it C shape form again.See picture "Step3 C".

Once you have the right size of your C shape, use that piece as a template to give the same form to the other 5 remaining squares.


Using white glue, paste all the C shape forms one over the other to create just one thicker form. When glue has finished to dry, our Clamp is ready. See picture "Step3 E".

Step 4: Create the Arm and Support for LEDs

To create the shorter arm, paste the paste the 2 rectangles of 16 x 1 ½ in. together, then paste each of the 2 rectangles of 14 x 1 ½ in. one on top and one on the bottom of the previous union. See top of the picture “Step4”.

B) To create the long arm, paste the 2 rectangles of 20 x 2 in. together, then paste the 2 rectangles of 22 x 2 in. one on top and one on the bottom of this latest union. (See bottom of the picture “Step4” and "Step4 second picture").

Step 5: Final Assembly

Insert the endpoints of the short arm and long arm to create a 90-degree angle. Do not glue them.

B) Using the drill and drill bit, make a hole in the center of the union of both arms.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS OPTION: BUT IN CASE YOU DO NOT HAVE A DRILL, the hole could be made using a pencil or scissors by holing each segment at one time. Unless you are using a drill, do not try to complete the hole in all the layers at once.


Using washers at the top and bottom of the long arm, insert the bolt in the hole using and screwdriver. Also secure the bolt with the proper nut at the back. See picture "Step5 C".


Glue the C clamp and the long arm.


Glue the shorter arm and the support for L.E.D. strip (rectangle of 14 x ¾).


Mount L.E.D. strip on its support by using the adhesive that the strip has included. Notice the connector for power supply should be left on the extreme that is closer to the longer arm. See picture "Step5 F".


Mount your lamp in your desk.Then, connect the power supply to the Power strip AND THERE WAS LIGHT!

(See picture 1, 2 and 3).


Hope you like this instructable! Also, check this notes to improve your Lamp:

  • Since the lamp is made of cardboard, you can easy personalize your our lamp, you can paint it, draw on it, apply stikers, etc.
  • You can use R.G.B. L.E.D. strip and a controller as I showed in picture of materials, instead of white strip. If that is the case, you will need to connect the strip to the controller and then the controller to the power supply. All these connections can be hidden behind the long arm and controller can be mounted using double sided tape.
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