Introduction: Live Edge Cardboard Night Table

Do you need a night stand? Do you have a bed with drawers, unknowingly prohibiting your enjoyment of regular nightstands? Do you order from Amazon way too much? Do you have too much time on your hands? If so, I have the PERFECT project for you!



- Two small boxes that are basically the same size these will be the shelf, so the bottom, three sides, and lid need to be in sound order

- Several cardboard sheets I had one box about 4x2 and used most of that

- Thin cardboard, like a coke can box, about two

- Thin cardboard tube I used an aluminum roll

- Brown packaging paper Reflecting, a paper grocery bag might work better because it's thicker.


- Kraft glue or white glue I used both for the same application when I ran out. Not going out in this mess for glue!

- Wood glue

- Hot glue/gun


- Large sharp scissors

- utility knife mine was actually not sharp at all, so I didn't use it. It would be SO much easier if you have it

- L brackets, two

- short screws, 4

- 3/4" screws, 4

- Duct Tape

- Tape Measure/Ruler


- Burnt Sienna, Acrylic

- Brown, Acrylic

- Black, Acrylic

- Parchment, Acrylic

- Spray Polyurethane

Step 1: Creating the Drawer

Is it really a drawer if it doesn't have a.. uhh.. drawer? Maybe it's a shelf. Who knows. Anyway, I thought having the drawer complete would help me gauge the right size for the top. I had a little wiggle room at the place I would install it, so it was a natural place to start. Using several smaller boxes, I found two that would fit into one another and seemed rather sturdy. I cut one long side off, then dry measured. There seemed to be a gap between the two, so I filled it with cardboard pieces.

I glued the bottom flaps down on the bottom piece, and added extra cardboard in to make a sturdy floor. I glued in the second box, and some extra pieces on one side because it was still wiggly in my dry measure, and made a solid floor with the second box as well. I left the taps open and uncut so I could make the decision later, once I have the top done.

Step 2: Making the Topper

So a few things. Due to the 'live edge', I cut every piece about 1/8" shorter than the previous one. I used the same size cardboard, and about 8-10 pieces? I used kraft glue, then white glue when I ran out. It didn't seem to make a difference on hold, but kraft glue was far superior - it dried without wrinkles rather easily.

I cut each piece to size. Contrary to the picture, all the pieces I ended up using was straight and without folds. I dry fit a few times, then glued each piece to the others, careful to put the glue on the smaller piece. I topped the pile with a Very Large Book No, seriously, it's like 30 pounds. I make have wrenched my wrist moving this book.

Now... I did something horrible. I thought the laptop table I was using had a backer the same size as the topper I was creating. It didn't. As such, the top 3-4 pieces are askew on the back. I had to fix this later on. Be careful about how they line up.

Let this dry overnight at least.

Step 3: "Veneer"

Okay, cool, cardboard nightstand. One problem: That ugly cardboard edging. Solution: Veneer. Open a cardboard coke box and cut off the flaps and the one edge with a line. I used two boxes.

I attached this while the nightstand is still in two pieces. I had to move it around multiple times, and cut several pieces off. In my case, my nightstand is pushed against the bed on one side, so I made the hole of the box on that side. This was one of the more difficult parts, but it all glued together well in the end. This will also need to dry overnight.

Step 4: The Top.

The top was worse. I should have found a partner well.. April 2020 you can't.. however, the maybe if you had clamps it would do better.

I started by gluing the sides' veneer. This wasn't a problem, but hid the ugly end of the cardboard.

The top piece: I folded the veneer bottom over top, ensuring that piece would reach the end of the top. Had I had a partner, I would have been able to hold the thin cardboard down while it glued correctly, without bumps. It's super important to dry measure this multiple times. I wanted a straight piece that went from the bottom of the live edge to the back of the board. Unfortunately, I didn't have a piece long enough to drop down the back.

I let this dry overnight. There were some gaps in the 'veneer', so I filled them with wood filler and let it dry overnight (again).

I actually really hated this thing, so I covered it in brown paper from amazon packages. Honestly, not the best. I changed the color scheme of my night stand in order to hide it.

Step 5: Outlet Hole

I measured my largest charger (watch) and drew a rectangle it can fit through. Using short and thin strokes, I cut the hole out. If you jab it in, the whole thing could fall apart. I don't know why this needs its own step.

Step 6: Attach!!

Dry measure the shelf and top, a few times. Cut off the excess flap, dry measure again. It's glue time. This time I used wood glue. I need that strong hold it make sure they stay together. Let dry at least overnight.

Step 7: Paint!

You can probably use markers if you like. I'm much better at painting, so that's what I did.

First, I mixed burnt sienna and brown. I covered the entire thing with this. I also used some black and parchment to trace my preliminary (base) coat. This gives it depth.

I then used black to create wood lines in the cardboard with a thin brush.

I used a wide brush with a small amount of black to cover the top. The idea is that it gently covers some of the top. Once that dries, I did the same with a brown-sienna mix.

After this, I did about three thin coats of spray polyurethane. This is for protection and water resistance.

Step 8: Decor!

I was looking for a modern farmhouse vibe, so I used a cardboard tube painted black to create a "pipe". I cut it in half, then on one half I cut the angle. I attached this with wood glue, because it will essentially be hanging there without support.

Step 9: Mount!

Somehow I think it lost like 6 inches in mounting. I used drywall anchors to the wall, and tiny screws for the top of the cardboard. I didn't make it deeper because I knew I would be attaching via corner braces. The farther from the wall the stand gets, the more likely it will break.

Next steps? I found some bark from a log that looks cool. I'd love to make a plant shelf with live bark, and it might as well be out of cardboard. We aren't getting out of the house anytime soon.

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