Introduction: Cardboard Tube Cabinet

Cardboard Tube Cabinet

The Background

Story 1:

I'm working in a huge company. We have to print a lot in different DIN formats. From time to time these paper rolls are empty. What is left are strong Cardboard Tubes. Some of them are used as Mailing Tubes and the rest is stored next to my office before they are thrown away.

I see these tubes every single day and I often think "These tubes are so cool and just too good to be thrown away". Now it is the time to use them. I saved them in my office and brought them home.

Story 2:

My kids have a huge collection of Lego bricks. And on every birthday and Christmas is getting more and more. At the moment the Lego is "stored" in a huge box. If you want to build something new, you have to search for it. Maybe you find the right brick, maybe not. So it would be cool to create a storage system for the most needed bricks.

Story 3:

As you maybe know, I'm a huge cardboard fan. I recently created two projects (Card Feeder and Card Sorter).

To cut a long story short, I want to combine the three stories and create a cabinet with drawers out of Cardboard Tubes. As I said before, I had access to some tubes, but sadly these are not enough. I needed at around 17m of tubes during this project. Luckily I found some very cheap tubes with the perfect size of 455mm.
Perfect size? Yes, If you cut a DIN A0 paper roll in half, you will have ~455mm.

Let's go!
In this Instructables I want to show you - How to built a cabinet out of Cardboard Tubes.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Tools and Materials



  • 17m Cardboard Tube (25x 455mm, 64mm diameter)
  • 4x 1000mm M6 threaded rod
  • M6 lock nut and M6 hex nut
  • 3mm Cardboard
  • PLA filament (not on the picture)
  • Solvent-containing adhesives (UHU HART)
  • 12x O-ring RO3

Step 2: Jigs


(You can find the Jigs as an stl in the attachment!)

There are a lot of similar activities in this project. To save some time and brainpower I decided to create some Jigs that help me out. Because I want to get more familiar with 3D Printing, I decided to create the Jigs in Fusion360 and print them out.


The 1st Jig is a simple piece to hold the Cardboard Tube in place. I used it also to mark the holes for the Drill Station.
I created a simple square 75 x 75 x 17,5mm with a 64mm hole in the middle (the diameter of my Cardboard Tubes). With a construction layer I cut the whole block in half and printed them twice on my Wanhao Duplicator i3.


Miter cuts on round objects are very tricky. If they rotate just a bit during sawing or during repositioning, the edges will not fit together. So it is very important, that they stay in the same position during the whole sawing process.

The 2nd Jig is based on the first one. 75 x 75 x 10mm, with a 65mm hole in the middle. I created a small 2mm gap and two hooks on the right side. With that mechanism and two rubber bands I can clamp down the tube. I printed them twice on my printer.

Step 3: Design


I'm very very bad in sketching. Even my little kids can create better drawings than me. :) But I try my best and practice a lot. The Instructables Sketching Class helped a lot.

I tried to sketch the idea which raised in my head. Because I don't know how to draw different things in 3D, I switched very soon to Fusion360. Here it is much easier for me to create the first prototypes and ideas.

I created a 455mm tube with 60mm inside and 64mm outside diameter. I copied, rotated and moved this tube 7 times and so created the left shape.

The cabinet base is created from two tubes in an 90° angle to the side. The right side of the cabinet is a copy of the left side (8 tubes).

To create the top of the cabinet, I copied the bottom tubes to the top and inserted 5 more.

I created 6x M6 threaded rods

  • 4 from top to bottom, 2 one each side, 600mm
  • 2 in the top, from back to front, 400mm

and secured them with M6 hex nuts. This is the main mechanism to hold everything together. The rods are placed at 32mm from the edge of the tube.

I decided to close all the tubes with cardboard circles. 3mm thick and 64mm in diameter.

After the basic shape was finished, I worked on the drawers. I used 4 tubes (64mm diameter) with miter cuts. 435mm for the long sides and 340mm for the short ones. On the bottom of the tube rectangle is a 3mm slot. A box with 385 x 290mm will fit perfectly into it.

In the end I brought everything together. There will be space for 3 drawers and one tray.

Step 4: Drilling


I used my TubeDrillJig the hold the tube (455 x 64mm) in place.

I made a mark at 32mm from the edge of the tube. Then I used the TubeDrillJig to mark two points on the opposite site of the tube. As a result I had two points directly in the middle. I did the same on the other end of the tube.

After I marked all tubes, I put them on my drill station. Because I had to drill a lot of holes with the same settings, I created another jig. It is a construction out of two vices and a piece of scrap wood. I mounted all of them on my machine vise on the drill station. With one vise and the scrap wood I set the right depth to drill the holes (32mm). The second vise and the TubeDrillJig secured the tube while drilling.

Brain off and drilling. :)

I used a 6mm wood drill bit.
To avoid tear out on the inside of the tube it would be the best if you had some scrap wood as a counterpart. I didn't have one, so I had to do a bit more sanding.

Step 5: Sanding


The outer surface was already very good. There was not much sanding
necessary. On the inside I had some tear out around the drill hole. But this was not a problem, just more work with sanding.

I used a 240 grip sandpaper and a round file to get a nice and even surface.

To wear a mask is always a good idea, even when you work with cardboard. Sawing, drilling and sanding will create a lot of dust.

Step 6: Mounting Part 1

Mounting Part 1

I prepared all four 1000mm threaded rods. To do so, I cut them at a length of 600mm with a small hand saw and removed all sharp edges with a file. The other parts (400mm) are used in a later step.

In the end I had four 600mm rods. Two of them were mounted in one tube.

To avoid loosening while using the cabinet I used lock nuts in the base of the cabinet. One disadvantage of using lock nuts is that you can not rotate it with your hands. You need wrenches.

I used my drill to avoid this problem. I clamped one end of the threaded rod into the drill chuck. With that mechanism I could rotate it via drill. On the other side I used a wrench. So it was very easy and fast to tighten the lock nut.

I used two lock nuts inside the feet of the cabinet. On the outside I used another nut to secure the rod. This additional nut can also be used as height adjustment.

I prepared the two feet for the cabinet in the same way.

Step 7: Mounting Part 2

Mounting Part 2

As the base was finished, I placed the feet of the cabinet on my workbench and moved one tube after each other onto the threaded rods. Slowly but surely the cabinet took on its final form.

So the cabinet has 2 tubes as feet and 8 tubes on each side which will created left and right side of the cabinet.

Step 8: Mounting Part 3

Mounting Part 3

In the next step I created the top of the cabinet.

455mm (length of the tube) can not by divided by 64mm (diameter of the tube). It is a bit more than 7 (7,109375). This means for my cabinet, that I need some spacers between the tubes to fill out this little gap.

I used O-rings (RO3) between the tubes.

The last tube on each side has two holes in an 90° angle, not 180° as it is on the other tubes.

I used two threaded rods (400mm) to screw all tubes together. On one side I used lock nuts and on the other side normal hex nuts.

After the top was finished, I mounted it to the cabinet.
Sorry for the wrong photos. The top has to be rotated by 90°. My mind was not focused at this moment.

Step 9: Drawers Part 1

Drawers Part 1

I used the same tubes (455 x 64mm) to create three drawers. These drawers fit perfectly between two tubes on the left and right side of the cabinet. So the tube structure on the sides serve as a kind of rail for the drawers.

I decided to use four tubes, with miter cuts, as handles.

I used my SawDrillJig to hold the tubes in place. With two rubber bands I could clamp it down really tight. I set my Miter Saw to an 45° angle. I added a stop block to the saw, so I didn't have to measure every time.

6x 435mm for the long sides and 6x 340mm for the short ones.

After everything was cut, I clamped the short piece of the tube in the SawDrillJig, put some UHU Hart on the edge and glued the long side to it.
While I'm writing these lines, I realized that it would be better to clamp the long side and move the short side. :)

With a right angle I checked the correct position.

I did this whole procedure 6 times. In the end I had 6 "tube angles". From this I created, with the help of UHU hart, three tube rectangles, which are my Drawers.

Step 10: Drawers Part 2

Drawers Part 2

It is perfect. Cardboard is available in 3mm and I had a 3mm blade on my table saw. So why not use this advantage.

After the glue was dry, I cut a 3mm thick slot with my table saw in all four bottom sides of the drawer. I sanded the surfaces and slots and put a box into it.

The box (385 x 290 x 110mm) is made out of 3mm cardboard and fits perfectly in this gap.

Step 11: Finishing Touch

Finishing Touch

For a nice look and to hide the threaded rods, I created a lot of cardboard circles with a diameter of 64mm and glued them to each tube.

Step 12: Don't Waste Any Cardboard

Don't waste any cardboard

During the creation of the cabinet I created a lot of scrap pieces. But these are still useful. So don't throw them away. I used it to create some boxes to store small parts.

I sanded the edges and glued a 64mm cardboard circle onto the bottom.

Step 13: The End

The End

Cardboard Cabinet finished!

I've created a video in which I show you how I built it. I hope you like it.

I love the look and the way how the Cardboard Cabinet works, but I also want to share my own criticism with you:

  1. You will see it in the video, it is a bit wobbly. It is not a problem. It's still working correctly, but one or two stabilization rods in the mid area would be a good idea. If there is new knowledge about this, I will update this Instructables.
  2. Some mm more on the short side of the drawers would be also a good idea. In my case it is very close to the limit. If the drawer is loaded with heavy stuff, it can slide down.

Of course, you can use the main idea (Cardboard Tubes to build furniture) for many things. If you create something, I really would like to see your ideas and solutions.

I would appreciate any criticism, comments or improvements. Whether in relation to the Cabinet, Photos, Skills, Writing or Language.

If you do not want to wait until the next update, you can see some news on Instagram.

Thank you for taking time to read about my project!

Have a great time.
Servus and cu next time!

Step 14: Attachment


Here you can find additional files.

If you need anything else, feel free to ask!

Step 15: Change Log

Change Log

  • V0.0
    • 2019-01-29 Project published
Cardboard Challenge

First Prize in the
Cardboard Challenge