Introduction: Make Beautiful Paper From Waste Cardboard

About: Hey! I'm Henri and I love making things

Welcome to my instructable. I have always thought about what could be done with all the cardboard we throw into the recycling. So here is my attempt - I hope you like it.

Step 1: Mold & Deckle

The first part of the instructable will be the making of the 'mold and deckle'. This will be the device used to shape the paper. The only thing I needed to buy was the mesh which cost me £1.50. If you don't have a drill or a jigsaw a great alternative to this method would be to get yourself two identical wooden picture frames - I was going to do it with picture frames until I found this piece of ply.


For the mold and deckle you will need:

- 18mm ply wood 600mm x 300mm (or something similar)

- Fine metal mesh 240mm x 200mm (or something similar)

- Duct tape

- Drill

- Jigsaw

- Staple gun


I began with an 18mm piece of ply, 600mm x 300mm. I cut it in half to make two pieces 300mm x 300mm. I centred the metal mesh, drew around it and then offset the perimeter by 5mm. Using a 16mm drill bit I made a hole so that I could use the jigsaw to cut out the middle of the ply.

With this frame made I then placed the fine mesh over the hole. I then used the staple gun to secure the mesh to the frame; trying as far a possible to pull the mesh tight. For safety reasons *cough! - not to hide my hideous stapling - cough!* I then taped around the edge of the mesh since it is sharp. There you have the deckle. The mold is exactly the same, expect there is no mesh.

Mold and deckle complete.

Step 2: Collect Some Cardboard

Go raid the recycling bins for some cardboard. I figured the wider the variety of colours and coatings the more interesting the paper would be.

Step 3: Make Some Pulp

Making the pulp you will need:

- A paper shredder

- A food processor

- A mixture of cardboard (cereal packets, toilet roll tubes, corrugated cardboard etc.)


Shred what you have collected - you'll make life a lot easier for your food processor. Place a couple of handfuls of the shredded cardboard in the processor with 1-2 pints of water. Well done, you've made some pulp!

Step 4: Make Some Paper...the Wrong Way

I put this step in here even though it didn't go to plan. It is important though to share the failures as well as the success.

Fill a large tub enough to fully submerge the mold and deckle. Submerged it enough that there is water over the mesh but not over the mold, pour in your pulp.

I thought this would be a good way to evenly distribute the pulp, I was wrong. Maybe if the mix was thinner, i.e. more water, it might have worked. Anyway, go to the next step to see a much better method.

Step 5: Make Paper...the Right Way!

Instead I found that tipping the pulp straight into the tub to be much more effective. This way the cardboard pulp spreads evenly through the water and you simply submerge the deckle and mold, scoop up some water/pulp mix, and you come away with an even piece of formed pulp. I found that having lots of water and not much pulp way better, you achieve a nice thin piece of paper this way.

Step 6: Wet Paper!

Once you get the deckle and mold out of the water/pulp mix drain off as much water as you can. Lie it flat remove the mold, you should be left with a nicely formed pulp mix sitting on the mesh. Place a piece of cloth (bigger than your piece of paper) on a flat surface and flip your deckle over so that the pulp mix comes into contact with the cloth. Try and do that fairly quickly so the pulp doesn't have a chance to slide off. Take something absorbent and sponge excess moisture out of the paper through the mesh. When you are happy you have got as much water as you can carefully lift the deckle, hopefully your paper is left behind on the cloth.

Leave the paper somewhere warm and well ventilated to dry. Speed up the drying process with a fan.

Step 7: Finished Paper!

Great! We've made some paper from waste cardboard. I really love being able to see snippets of text from the packaging I used. At the moment I am not sure weather I am totally satisfied with the grey colour of the paper. Perhaps you could add dye?

Step 8: Does It Work Though?

My little sister is a really talented artist so I asked her to try out the paper. She approves :)


I hope you have enjoyed this instructable, if you have I would really appreciate it if you could vote for me in the cardboard competition. Thanks for looking and happy making to you all!

Cardboard Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
Cardboard Contest 2016