Introduction: Fake Wood, Cardboard Table

Make this "wood" (but actually cardboard) table!

Features include:

  • only $25 in materials
  • strong enough to sit on
  • easy to take apart
  • light enough to easily pick up with one hand
  • Looks like wood!

Step 1: Gather Your Materials


  • Drill & 5/16" drill bit
  • Box cutter (or other knife/razor blade)
  • Small metal file


Step 2: Cut the Cardboard

Cut board into two 40" x 24" pieces using the box cutter.

Cut the tubes to the length you want the legs to be. I recommend 18-19" long.

Step 3: Drill Holes

Stack the two pieces of cardboard on top of each other. These will form the table top.

We want the legs inset from the edges of the table top by a few inches on each side.

Mark a hole 4" from both edges of each 90 degree corner.

Drill the holes with a 5/16" bit, making sure you drill through all 2" of table.

Step 4: Apply Wood "veneer"

Unroll the wood-patterned vinyl.

Make sure that the two sheets of cardboard are neatly stacked.

Cut the vinyl to the length of the table with 6" off each end to fold over.

To fit the width of the table you'll end up needing two sheets.

Remove the adhesive backing on one piece and carefully apply it.

Match the grain on the second piece as you remove the backing and apply it.

Apply carefully to the table.

Step 5: File the Washer Into a Square

File the washer, so the hole in the center is square and big enough for the bolt to go through.

This is to keep the bolt and washer rotating together.

Don't worry. Each washer only takes 3 minutes to file.

Step 6: Put the Washer/bolt Into the Table.

Feel or measure to find the hole in the cardboard that you covered with vinyl. Remember, it's 4" from each side.

Pierce through the vinyl and put the bolt down through the square washer into the top of the table.

The top of the table now looks complete.

Do this for all four washer/bolt pairs.

The last image is what it should look like underneath.

Step 7: Prepare Printed Parts

Print out your parts. If you have a 3d printer, you can find the designs free to use/remix here:

If you don't have a printer, you can buy the parts from shapeways here:

Alternatively, you can cut out a circle of 1/2" or thicker wood that fits inside the tube.

Now that you have the parts, put a nut in each of them.

To keep the nut from falling out while we're putting everything together, add tape to hold the nut temporarily to the printed part. This will keep the nut from falling out until we screw it into the rest of the table (where the bolt will then hold it in)

Step 8: Measure the Legs

Mark 1.5" down the side of each of the legs.

Make a mark every 90 degrees.

Drill pilot holes

Line the printed part up with the pilot holes with the nut side facing down.

Use your drill to drive the screws through the legs into the printed part.

Step 9: Screw the Legs on to the Table.

Line each leg up with a bolt in the table top and rotate the leg to screw the leg onto the bolt.

Screw the legs on.

Make sure the bolts grab on to the nut inside the legs.

While turning the legs, hold the corresponding washer and bolt pair on the top of the table and keep it from turning.

Turn until tight and not wobbly. If you make it too tight, the pressure will make marks in the table in the next few days.

Step 10: Done! Enjoy Your Table

Amaze your friends with your new faux-wood cardboard table.

It's light enough to push around without much effort and will happily support many times its own weight.

Step 11: Epilogue

Originally I wanted to make the table using glued pieces of regular cardboard. While it worked in being a rigid, heavy board, the result was too curved to look nice.Maybe the weight of all the adhesive necessary to keep the many layers together caused it to bow like that.

I then went through many iterations of the leg holders, trying expansion joints to hold the print to the tube. They would always slip. I tried rubber to keep them from slipping, but that too wasn't good enough. Finally I realized that screws would be a perfect way to keep the print from moving up in the tube causing the leg to wobble.

This is all just to illustrate that nothing is right the first time around. As with all projects, you have to keep reiterating and redesigning. Show me the cool cardboard furniture you can design by posting pictures in the comments.

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