Circular Cardboard Shadowbox (Hot-glue Method)




Introduction: Circular Cardboard Shadowbox (Hot-glue Method)

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.

Step 1: 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

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

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

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.

Step 5: Decorating - Waterproofing 2

2. Next cover the shadowbox with joint compound or crack filla. I made my own using PVA glue, water and bit of cement mix (calcium carbonate). I blended it to a smooth mix.

The ratio was 1:1:1. Dry overnight

The next day it dried to a solid, rock solid surface.

File and sand down. I only filed the edges and left the rest quite lumpy and bumpy for a rustic look.

Step 6: Decorating - Add Colour 3

The cardboard surface is now ready for painting.

I used acrylic paint and will paint another layer then file down again soon.

The next day I chose a light cerise blue to cover the darker green layer.
I mixed pva glue, water and acrylic paints.
It looks a lot cheerful now I think.

1 Person Made This Project!


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10 years ago on Introduction

Can I use masking tape instead of gummed tape or is there any other substitute to gummed tape


Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

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.


10 years ago on Introduction

do I really need the gummed tape and can I just make a larger version and glue it inside a box


11 years ago on Introduction

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


Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

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!


11 years ago on Introduction

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?


Reply 11 years ago on Introduction


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.