Introduction: Cardboard and Duct Tape Patio Table

Need an extra table for the yard or patio?  Maybe you occasionally have a few people over and don't want to invest in extra furniture that will only be used a few times.  Or, you just need a special place to set your umbrella drinks.  Most affordable outdoor tables are not very sturdy and at best, on the plain side.

This design for a cardboard and duct tape table admittedly, isn't very sturdy either, but you can use it for at least a season and since you make it out of cardboard and 1/3 - 1/2 a roll of duck tape it is a more cost effective (and also cuter) option.

The center piece is taped in, but still able to be removed, so you could mix it up for different events. The square may be decorated with pretty much anything, covered in clear contact paper and reset in the table. It would be easy to have custom tables for Fourth of July, BBQs, summer birthdays, etc.

Step 1: Prep Cardboard and Cut

Since I am forever feeling bad about throwing out perfectly good boxes, but really have no need for them, I've been checking out the cardboard projects. This project was inspired, in part, by the awesome cardboard lumber Instructable:

Now, I am no where near as hardcore as that, but this table is in a similar spirit (just a tinier one).

So, like the cardboard lumber, you will need to prepare by gluing layers of cardboard together. I opted for three layers for most single pieces. The legs are three pieces of three. Nine layers, plus the duct tape, seem strong enough for a small table.

Start you lumber...
  • Cut boxes into pieces...just follow along natural bends (a couple medium Amazon boxes were used for this project)
  • Stack up in sets of three and glue
  • Set something heavy on top and let dry overnight

You'll need the following pieces (all from the 3 layer cardboard):

9" x 9" squares (2 pieces)

2" x 16" (8 pieces)
2" x 11" (4 pieces)
2" x 3"   (4 pieces)

1" x 7" (8 pieces)

Step 2: Table Top Frame

Cut and glue table top
  • Take one of the cardboard squares and cut out center leaving about a 1" boarder
  • Remove center square and set aside
  • Glue the frame atop the second square
  • Cover the sides table top in primary color
  • Add small rolls of tape to the center

Step 3: Tape Top

The square that was cut from the top piece should be covered in whatever contrasting duct tape color or pattern you like.  I went with blue paisley duct tape...because it is blue paisley duct tape.

Just cover the middle square and set into frame prepared in previous step.

Step 4: Glue Legs

Glue Up Legs
  • Lay a 16" piece down and glue the 3" piece at the bottom
  • Leave a 1" gap and then glue down the longer piece
  • This will allow for the crossbars to connect along the top and bottom of the frame

Step 5: Assemble Frame

Start the Frame
It is easier to begin taping the individual pieces before assembling them, but leave the ends bare for easier gluing.
  • Take two of the legs and two crossbars.  Glue the crossbars into place along the top and bottom gaps that were left in the legs.
  • Repeat for second half of frame
  • Allow sufficient time to dry
Now connect the two halves of the frame
  • Cut slot across the top of each leg - through the piece you glued in just prior (Pics 2 and 3)
  • Cut notches at the bottom of each leg at same height as the other two crossbars (Pics 4 and 5)
  • Put all bars in place and glue
  • Again, allow drying time since the next step is to...
  • Cover the entire frame in duct tape

Step 6: Affix Top to Frame

Attach Table Top
  • Set your table top, top side down, on a flat surface
  • Flip the frame over and center it on the table top
  • Tape pieces together along the inside and outside of the of where the frame meets the table top
  • Flip whole thing over and admire your handiwork!